Automatic AMD Backups

/ 15 August 2008

Those of us that are lucky enough to own either an iPhone, iPhone 3G, or iPod Touch (all Apple Mobile Devices, or AMDs) know that these devices are backed up by iTunes before each and every sync. This is a super-useful feature in retrospect. If your device has a settings problem then restoring from this backup may remedy that. They’re also a nice safety feature before any update or before a trip. But, after the 2.0 software update/ upgrade these backups started to take quite a bit longer than they did with the 1.x firmware. This is primarily due to the extra user data that is stored on the AMD with 3rd-party apps, but also due to the fact that the 3rd-party apps themselves get backed up into this locally stored backup. With that, each time you sync your AMD those backups will take longer and longer to complete and they’ll take up more and more room on your Mac’s (or PC’s) hard drive. Ever since iTunes 7.7 was released a hidden preference has existed that will totally disable the backup and restore functionality. That terminal command is as follows (but the Secrets prefpane I blogged about earlier this week can also change it):

defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true Replace "true" with "false" to revert

However, another hidden preference was created in iTunes 7.7.1 that will disable the automatic backups that iTunes performs immediately prior to sync, but will leave the menu item intact (in the contextual menu when the mouse is over the AMD in the iTunes source sidebar) so you can manually perform a backup and restore entirely separate from syncing. That terminal command is:

defaults write AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true Again, replace "true" with "false" to revert

This preference is much more handy (I now have it set) because the AMD syncing will run faster (like if you’re in a hurry to go somewhere or do something), but you can manually choose to back up the AMD on a self-determined interval (like weekly right before you backup your whole Mac). Enjoy, Alex.