iTunes: Delete Old Device Backups to Save Space

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If you’ve ever backed up your devices to iTunes, it’s important to know that those old backups may still live on your computer, and they could be taking up a ton of space. Wanna check and see if you have any? Sure you do, and here’s how. Open iTunes, and then choose iTunes > Preferences from the menus at the top. 

When the Preferences window opens, choose the “Devices” tab.

I’ve only got one backup in there (and it’s of my current iPhone), but if you have a bunch and some aren’t relevant anymore, you can get rid of them. To do so, select one and click the “Delete Backup” button I’ve called out in red above.

There are a few more cool things you can do within this dialog box, though. If you right- or Control-click on a certain backup, you’ll see some handy options.

That “Show in Finder” choice, for example, can be used along with Finder’s Get Info command to determine how big the backup in question is. 

That’s actually pretty large considering how cleaned off I keep my iPhone.

Alternatively, you can use the “Archive” option within that contextual menu to create date-stamped snapshots, as Dave Hamilton explained a while back.

And finally, one more nifty thing you can do within Preferences > Devices is hover your cursor over any of the backups, and you’ll see some information about the device it was made from (like, say, the serial number).

I’ve found that info useful when I needed to identify a piece of equipment I no longer own, like when I recently got a refund for the unused portion of AppleCare I had on my old iPhone 6 Plus. I mean, you’d think that I would keep records of that kind of thing as an efficient businessperson, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

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Lee Dronick

That is an excellent tip and I am going to check it out.

Lee Dronick

It wasn’t bad. I guess the backups for my old devices are on the old iMac.


Great reminder, Melissa.

I had intended to clear out old iPhone and iPad backups a few weeks ago, but didn’t get around to it until I saw your article today. Hadn’t swept out that rubbish since 2010.

Bought me a quite a few GB on the cheap.


I did this just last week. I removed backups from 8-10 old devices going back about 5 years, and recovered over 50 GB of disk space. Yowza!

If you’re doing what you should be doing, your Mac backup will also have a copy of those files. You shouldn’t worry about those—that’s what those backups are for—but they could also be removed from Time Machine or similar time-sliced backups to save space in them.  Just make sure that these are files you’ll NEVER want to see again.

Catherine Fei

Thank you, Melissa! I aslo find some tips to free up iphone space directly.

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