Disable Automatic iTunes Backups for iPhone, iPad, and iPod

May 16, 2012 - 3 Comments

Disable Automatic Backups in iTunes for iOS Devices

Having 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 better solution because it allows you to create and retain local backups of an iPad, iPhone, or iPod when you want them, but they are no longer initiated on their own during the sync process.

The vast majority of users should retain the default behavior and allow iTunes to manage and back up your devices. This tip is intended for advanced users who have a compelling reason to disable the automated process.

Disable Automatic iTunes Backups

  1. Quit iTunes and then launch Terminal, found in /Applications/Utilities/
  2. Enter the following defaults write command:
  3. defaults write com.apple.iTunes AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

  4. Relaunch iTunes for changes to take effect

Once automatic back ups are disabled, you can backup manually at any point by right-clicking on the device within iTunes sidebar and choosing “Back Up”, and you can continue to use iClouds manual initiation as well.

Re-Enable Automatic iOS Device Backups in iTunes
To reverse the change and re-enable automatic device backups, open Terminal and use the following defaults command before relaunching iTunes:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool false

Both sides of this change should only impact iTunes and have no effect on iCloud behavior.

A big thanks to Matt for the tip left in our comments!


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


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  1. Pieter says:

    I have run this command, but the check mark (dot) still displays under “this computer” and I cannot unselect it (other than to change it to ICloud – which I don’t want as bandwidth is an issue) (Running Mountain Lion on my MacBook Pro)

  2. help please says:

    How to do it with Windows 7?
    Help me please!

  3. demaral says:

    Great tip

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