iTunes: Permanently Disable iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch Backup Process

The iTunes backup process while syncing takes a large chunk of time when syncing with an Apple device. If you don’t give a hoot about backing up your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch data, you can permanently disable the backup process in iTunes using these steps.


iTunes 10 and newer

1. Close out of the iTunes application.

2. Navigate to location of your iTunesPrefs.xml file.

Windows XP:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes

Windows 7 or Vista:

C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes

iTunesPrefs-xml file

3. Open the iTunesPrefs.xml file using a text editor such as Notepad or Wordpad.

4. Scroll down to where is says:

<key>User Preferences</key>

5. Below that line, type the following:


iTunes disable backup in xml file

6. Close and save the iTunesPrefs.xml file.

When you launch iTunes again, backups for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices will be disabled. If you wish to enable backups again, simply remove the data typed above from the iTunesPrefs.xml file.


Older versions

1. Close out of iTunes.

2. Press Windows Key + R, or click Start > Run.

3. Type:

“%CommonProgramFiles%\Apple\Mobile Device Support\defaults.exe” write AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

then press Enter.

iTunes command to disable backups

Note: If you copy and paste this command, you may need to retype the quotes.

iTunes backups are now disabled. If you wish to enable backups again, use the command below:

“%CommonProgramFiles%\Apple\Mobile Device Support\bin\defaults.exe” write AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool false



1. Close iTunes.

2. Open the Utilities folder and launch Terminal.

3. Type  defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true then press Enter.

If you wish to enable backups again, use the terminal command defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool false to turn backups back on.


  1. Liselot says

    Hi Mitch, I have somehow solved the problem. I had two files, the modified one and a copy of the original named …-copy.xml. After deletion of this second file in the folder it somehow worked and didnt rewrite automaticalle the deleted disable-command in the file. Strange, but happy now.

  2. Liselot says

    Hi Mitch, I have found your advice very helpful to diable the automatic backup. Now I need to mack a backup and I cannot enable it anymore. You wrote just cancel the code, but somehow Itunes reputs the code in the ItunesPrefs.xml file when restarting. Any Ideas how to solve this? In Itunes the manual-backup button is also not “pressable”. Thank you.

  3. Mitch says

    No idea. That section is in ever iTunesPrefs.xml file I have ever looked at. Are you searching the document? Maybe try that to be sure.

  4. Nic says

    Hi Mitch, helpful site. I’m trying this disable on itunes on my windows xp system. I’ve opened the XML for editing in Notepad++ which is an XML viewing software; as well as in Windows WordPad,But all I see is a bunch of encrypted jargon, and the “user preferences” section is not there as in your screenshot. I know where it should be, but it’s not there. Any ideas?

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