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How to Delete Old iTunes Library Backups
Did you know each time you connect your iOS device to iTunes, it creates a full backup of this device? All these backups are stored on your Mac, and over time they can pile up and take up valuable disk space.
Why does this happen? Each time you connect your iOS device to iTunes, it creates a full backup from scratch instead of adding new files to the existing backup. Which is great if your latest backup has crashed or you can’t restore it. But what if you have backups from previous years or from devices you don’t have anymore? Full iOS backups take up a significant amount of space, so if you have years-old iOS backups and run out of disk space, it’s high time you removed them.
You might not even be aware of how many old backups are stored on your computer. If you use a Mac, you can remove iTunes backups either manually or via the iTunes interface. iTunes for Windows doesn’t have this interface, so if you are a Windows user, you’ll need to find the backup files manually and remove them.
Removing iOS Backups using iTunes (for macOS only)
iTunes for Mac has an additional interface to easily locate and remove iOS backups. Launch iTunes and go to Preferences.
Next, click on the Devices tab, where you’ll see your backups list. This tab also shows the device names and the dates of the backups created.
Select the ones you’d like to remove and click the Delete Backup button.
Removing iOS Backups Manually (for Windows)
If you run Windows, removing old backups manually is the only option. iTunes for Windows has no additional interface to remove old backups. However, you can locate the folder containing old iOS backups.
Windows stores backups in the folder located at:
where %username% is your Windows user account name.
The Backup folder contains subfolders with alphanumeric strings for the names.Because it’s unclear which backups are the oldest, you should sort them by name. For this, you’ll need the device’s Unique Device Identifier number, known as UDID.
This is an identifier, like the serial number of your device, containing letters and numbers. The UDID is unique for every device. If you backed up several devices, the UDID will help you identify them. You can find the UDID in iTunes: plug in your device into iTunes and open the Summary page. You’ll see a Serial Number entry.
Click on the Serial Number and it will change into UDID.
When iTunes creates a backup, it names the backup folder with the device’s UDID. The name will look something like this:
When you create another backup, iTunes names it with the device’s UDID again, renaming the previous backup with the device’s UDID + backup date. It will look like this:
Look for the folder named with the alphanumeric string without a date. This will be the most recent backup of your device.
The first folder with no date stamp in the name is the latest backup. If you see other backups with various dates, select the ones you no longer need and remove them.
In this case, the iOS backup belongs to iPod touch and takes up 12.5GB of storage. Running another backup will take up an additional 12.5GB of storage and so on. So if you’re used to backing up your devices to iTunes regularly, these folders can take up a large amount of space. Things get worse if you back up several devices regularly. But with this trick you now know how to free up extra space on your hard drive.
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