Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tutorial: How to Disable iPhone Backup?

Since the iPhone 2.0 firmware, iTunes can backup your iPhone for up to 2 hours (I had experience that took me more than 3 hours). One of the reasons is iTunes tries to copy every single files from the iPhone to the hard drive. I have about 40 applications are installed and the backup folder (/Users//Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup) shows I have more than 5000 files in the backup archieve. According to my observation, it takes about 1-2 seconds to copy 2 files from the iPhone to my computer (PowerMac Dual G5 2.0GHz with 4GB RAM).

Seriously, have Apple heard of rsync? Why they want to copy every single files from my phone back to the computer? I can restore the application via the AppStore, right? I think iTunes just need to save the application's SQLite database files only if they have been modified. That will definetely speed up the backup process. (Yeah, again, rsync Apple!!!!)

Before Apple fixes this problem, I guess we have to live with the slow backup process. I used to sync my iPhone 1.x with my computer mutliple times a day. Now, I may only sync my iPhone if I have calendar update (yes, MobileMe does not support subscribed calendars yet) or updating the music/podcasts.

If you are brave enough, you can hit the "x" button to skip the backup and force iTunes just to sync your other files instead. However, that always create corrupted backup archives. If you see multiple backup folders within /Users//Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup, highly possible your backup is corrupted. To fix it, just simple delete /Users//Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup and restart iTunes again. It will force iTunes to create a brand new backup archieve.

The other way to skip the backup process is modifying iTunes configuration. No, you cannot find it in the iTunes Preference. You have to manually modifying the system settings by typing

defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

in the Terminal application on the Mac and restart iTunes. If you want to perform the backup again, issue the same command but replacing "true" to "false" (I highly recommend to do the backup at least 1 time a week). For Windows users, sorry, may be the similar settings are hidden in the registry and I have no idea where to find it yet.

1 comment:

MicroSECONDS said...

I have written a small FREE Windows program called "iPhone Backup Switch". The program will allow you to enable and disable the iPhone backup feature in iTunes. I have tested it pretty well in Windows XP and VISTA. There is a backup feature that will backup the iTunes configuration and let you restore a previous version, if something goes wrong. Comes complete with installer and uninstaller.

Get it here: