How to Disable the iTunes Backup For iOS Devices Completely

May 15, 2012 - 12 Comments

Anytime an iOS device is connected to a computer it will sync and backup the device, and though the syncing process can be annoying sometimes, the backup process should be considered crucial so that you always have a way to restore your iPhone, iPad, or iPod should anything go wrong.

With that said, there are a few limited situations where some users may want to disable the iTunes & iOS backup process completely, which is different than stopping iTunes from automatically syncing because it continues to allow for device syncing but minus the backing up aspect.

We’ll show you how to turn off backups, but we want to warn everyone this is not a good idea unless you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, leaving this option best for select jailbreakers or just for demonstration purposes.

Disable iTunes Backups for iOS Devices

  • Quit out of iTunes and launch the Terminal, then enter the following defaults write command:
  • defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool YES

  • Relaunch iTunes, connecting iOS devices will sync but without a backup copying over

With backups disabled nothing will be added to the local directory or iCloud, and anything already there can be deleted through iTunes or manually. Remember, disabling this feature removes the ability to restore an iOS device should you need to, which for 99.9% of people is a bad thing.

Re-Enable iTunes & iOS Backups

  • Quit iTunes again and launch Terminal, entering the following defaults command:
  • defaults delete DeviceBackupsDisabled

  • Relaunch iTunes and connect an iOS device to confirm backups are working again

The instructions above are intended for Mac OS X, but Windows users can disable the device backups by launching iTunes with a flag attached to it, this can be executed from the Run menu or by right-clicking iTunes:

"%ProgramFiles%\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt DeviceBackupsDisabled 1

To reenable backups with windows, change the 1 to a 0 and run iTunes exe again.

Thanks to Jeremy for the tips.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. mohab says:

    “%ProgramFiles%\iTunes\iTunes.exe” /setPrefInt DeviceBackupsDisabled 1

    thanks this command worked for me just fine

    • mohab says:

      “%ProgramFiles%\iTunes\iTunes.exe” /setPrefInt DeviceBackupsDisabled 0 to enable backup

      this worked for me thanks

  2. Rebecca says:

    This hasn’t seemed to work for me, whenever I type the above into Terminal it comes up with an error saying Domain ( not found.
    Defaults have not been changed

    Any other ideas?

    Thanks in advance!

  3. Brittany says:

    Thank you so much! I seriously spent 3 hours talking to Apple Support and they could not figure out how to fix my issue

  4. […] it.. and here we go.. Looks like i disabled the function a few month ago. Fortunately the same link that helped me disable backup also shows how to re-enable […]

  5. […] a backup of your iOS device and its settings is important, so rather than completely disabling iOS backups in iTunes, you can choose to selectively disable only the automatic backup process. This is a much […]

  6. Marcus says:

    Thank You!!!! Sometimes I just want to load up some Podcasts and get out the door, fast. This was unbearably slow with my iPod Touch. I would sometimes click the “x” to try and skip that stage, but would often not respond or skip too many steps, ending up missing the sync and missing my train yikes!. Now I don’t have to sit through that time-consuming backup. Thank you!

    • Paul says:

      Be sure to back up in some other fashion, or else you will have no backups if you need to restore!

  7. Dean says:

    Yes,thanks Matt,a much better alternative

  8. matt says:

    rather than disabling backups entirely, what you should do is disable AUTOMATIC backups when you sync with this command:
    defaults write AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

    then you can still right-click the device in iTunes sidebar and backup on demand when you want to.

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