9 Replies Latest reply: Jan 17, 2010 6:54 PM by modular747
reppans Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
There tens of thousands of files in my iPhone backup area (Library>Application Support>Mobile Sync>Backup), most with old dates from previous back-ups. It doesn't appear that the backup process overwrites the old files.

Can I delete these old dated back-up files to free up space on my Mac? Can I assume the iPhone backup process is not incremental and a restore would not need these old files?


MBP 2.16, Mac OS X (10.4.8)
  • modular747 Level 6 Level 6 (17,700 points)
    I'm not sure what files you see, but standard backups done when syncing do overwrite the last. The only ones that are saved (and time stamped) are those created when restoring.

    Note that each backup appears as a folder in /MobileSync/Backup, and each backup consists of many individual files.

    To delete backups via iTunes:

    Preferences > Devices > Device Backups. Select what you want to delete and click "Delete Backup."

    Message was edited by: modular747
  • reppans Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have my syncs and backups set on manual. I right click my iPhone device in iTunes to backup.

    Also, going to that iTune device/delete backup screen, I can only see "today's" back-up, although I can see the tens of thousands of files via Finder?
  • wjosten Level 10 Level 10 (93,750 points)
    The backup is actually a SQLite database. iTunes only keeps one backup - it overwrites the previous one (in one sense it merely adds in missing bits, so to speak). The one exception is restore backups, which are time/date stamped and not overwritten. Stay out of this folder, unless you want to screw things up.
  • modular747 Level 6 Level 6 (17,700 points)
    As I said above, each backup consists of many, many files contained in a folder within the Backup folder. The folders for each backup have a long alphanumeric *.mdata name.

    If you see only one backup in Devices, that's all you have - it does contain all those individual files.
  • reppans Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I hear you guys, but this is what is happening (for example):

    The first time I backed up my phone, there were some 3,000 files created in that directory. The next time, after adding some apps, the backup created an incremental 4,000 files with the current date. The next time say another 5,000 files (again after adding some data into the phone). So after three backups, there's now 12,000 files in the directory with three "creation" dates. Nothing is disappearing with each backup - the directory is just growing and growing.

    These cannot be incremental files, can they?
  • modular747 Level 6 Level 6 (17,700 points)
    This only means that there are incrementally more data on your phone being backed up. Remember that all individual app data, contacts, settings, messages, camera roll, recent call list, bookmarks, Safari cache and cookies, etc, etc, are backup up.


    I'm not sure why you're concerned about this. If you're really worried, you can delete the backup folder with all the files, hope for the best, and backup again.
  • Jim VanLeeuwen Level 6 Level 6 (18,820 points)
    I have over 3,000 files in my mobilesync>backup folder. I moved that folder to the trash, emptied the trash, and did an iPhone backup. The new mobilesyncbackup folder has the same 3,000 + files.

    If your profile is correct, you need to upgrade to at least O X 10.4.11 which the iPhone requires. Could that be your problem?
  • reppans Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I'm on 10.4.11.... forgot to update my sig (now updated).

    I'm only concerned about it for eating too much (useless) space on my laptop, and perhaps running into some sort of file number limitations (if any).

    I called Apple support on it and they said it's a result of me manually backing up (I don't auto sync backup due to the time involved, I right click the device to initiate the backup... maybe once a month).

    When you manually backup, they said the system does not delete older backups. They said if you backup manually, the system also expects that you manage your old backup files manually. They said the manual backup files are not incremental - they stand alone each time you do it - so it safe to delete the older dated files, although advised to keep at least the two most recent backups intact.

    Thanks for the input everyone.
  • modular747 Level 6 Level 6 (17,700 points)
    However, you don't actually have more than one backup - all the files are in the same backup folder and only 1 backup shows in Devices in iTunes (as you reported). If you try to selectively delete certain files within that backup, you'll likely corrupt it.

    The info you got is incorrect. "Manually" backing up by right-clicking the device tab and selecting "Back Up" doesn't create multiple backups. It works the same way as when syncing.

    The only time multiple backups are saved is when you "manually" choose to backup when restoring.