Note that my desktop PC runs 64-bit Windows 7. This tip may or may not be useful for people running Macs.
My C: drive is a solid state drive. The suckers are expensive compared to traditional drives and come in much smaller sizes. Mine is 224 gigabytes.
I’ve got things set up so that only programs go on that drive. I’ve moved my Documents folder over to my E: drive so when I’m saving files, by default they’ll go there instead of on C. Some programs save data to the C:/Users/xxx folder without asking, and with many you don’t have the option to choose another drive. Lazy programming, I call it.
Anyway, I noticed today that my C: drive was running out of space. I do have a lot of programs installed but even so, I didn’t think I possibly have 210 gigs worth of programs sitting there. I searched through the drive manually (I know there are programs to help with this but I don’t have any).
What did I find? The back-ups for all of my various iOS devices were eating up more than 80 gigabytes of the 224 gig drive. And that was including back-ups for devices I had long since sold off. iTunes doesn’t know you’ve sold something off and no longer need the back-up; you have to manually delete the back-up yourself.
You’ll find the folder in YourName/AppData/Roaming/Apple Computer/MobileSync. iTunes won’t let you move the back-up to another drive and the individual backup folders have “helpful” names like b0d32fecd8d1fb3c8c4efb152f1dc243a2f27798. At least they have timestamps on them, so I figured I could safely delete the old ones.
I have 4 active iOS devices – my gf and I each have an iPhone and an iPad. Fortunately iTunes doesn’t back up everything – that would have destroyed my hard disk. Even so, the back-up for my 128 gig iPad (which has about 80 gigs of stuff on it at the moment) takes up 20 gigs. On the other hand, the back-up of my gf’s 64 gig iPhone took just 600 meg.
I now have just 4 back-up folders there, one for each device, each device newly backed up in the past hour. The total file size has gone down from over 80 gigs to 33; more than 45 gigs of space freed up.
I could “archive” these to another drive and then “restore” them if and when needed. But then every time I go to sync, (which I do almost daily) iTunes will think there’s no backup at all and do a new one and the deleting/archive process takes a little bit of time. I’ve recovered enough space on my C: drive for now, so I’ll let them remain. I’ve got 65 gig free now – also because the last time I created a new Lightroom catalog I wasn’t paying attention and that ended up on my C drive, but that was easy enough to fix.
So anyway, if you’ve ever sold off an iPhone or iPad, find the backup folder and see how much space you can recover this way.