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How to Get a Faster iPhone Sync: Disabling Backup

July 27, 2008

Tired of enduring those length iPhone to iTunes syncs? Well now you can speed up the process by disabling the backup process (for Mac & Windows users), allowing you to get back to your iPhone and daily life sooner rather than later. Please note, any information that you have stashed on your iPhone only (not sync'd with your iTunes) will NOT back-up, and will be forever lost to the data-abyss upon a restore. Michael at ZeroLogic posts the instructions for Mac users, while eidac from Germany has uncovered a Windows variation. Kudos to these guys for their craftiness... Read below for their detailed instructions (and as always, proceed at your own risk!):

Disable iTunes Backup for Mac users

While I understand that some people like the idea of having a backup of everything on their phone, I'm comfortable knowing that I have backups of all of my important data elsewhere. I use MobileMe for OTA (over the air) syncing, and I have Time Machine running whenever I connect to my wireless network. Text messages, and other stuff on the iPhone just aren't all that important to me. With the introduction of the iPhone 2.0 software and the 3G iPhone, the backup process can take a long time. People have suggested that the time it takes is dependent on the number of applications you've installed from the App Store. I have 30, and it takes forever. My friend Bracken has 4 and it took seconds. I found a way (using the strings command in the terminal) to disable the backup function. This means that YOUR PHONE IS NOT GOING TO GET BACKED UP. Let me repeat that. If you do what I list below, YOUR PHONE WILL NOT GET BACKED UP. This command will change a hidden setting in the iTunes preferences that will force it to skip the backup process. 1. - Quit iTunes. 2. - Open 3. - Copy and paste this in, then hit return: defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true 4. - Open iTunes 5. - Plug in your iPhone (2.0 or 3G) and sync. It will take a few seconds, assuming you don't have a ton of music or podcasts. Changing the 'true' in step 3 to 'false' will re-enable the backup feature. Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment here. I will not be held responsible if your phone takes a crap and you have no backup. :)

Disable iTunes Backup for Windows users

Disabling the slow iTunes Backup on Windows is a little more tricky, but it works. First of all close ITunes and then follow these steps: 1. Locate your iTunesPrefs.xml file. It’s usually located in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes or C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes. Hint: If the folder Application Data does not show up, make sure that hidden files are visible in the Windows Explorer 2. Backup your iTunesPrefs.xml file 3. Open iTunesPrefs.xml using a capable text-editor (e.g. Notepad++, Ultraedit, but not MS Notepad) 4. Search for a section called User Preferences and paste the following snipped into the User Preferences Section after the first <dict>: <key>DeviceBackupsDisabled</key> <data> dHJ1ZQ== </data> After you’ve done that it should exactly look like the screenshot on the left. 5. Save the file and restart iTunes. Backups should now be disabled. To enable backups again delete the XML Snippet from iTunesPrefs.xml file.

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