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Backing up an iPad to where you want

Apple, in their great wisdom, do not permit you to specify a location for your iPad(/iPod/iPhone) backups. They are automatically placed in:
C:\Documents and Settings\your_username\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup with Windows XP, and in: C:\Users\your_username\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup with later versions of Windows.

Additionally, purchased applications will be stored in: C:\Documents and Settings\your_username\iTunes\iTunes Media\Mobile Applications (or something like that, depending on system configuration)


As it happens, "My Documents" on my machine points to D:\RickMisc in order that I could move all of my "stuff" off of the small (4Gb) SSD that is now struggling to hold Windows (and not helped by all the rubbish iTunes dumped in there!).


So, what do we have? A C: drive with about 200Mb free and a D: drive with about 500Mb free. Certainly not enough to back up an iPad, given the iPad's storage (16Gb) is more than the 4Gb+8Gb in the eeePC!
There's also a 500Gb USB harddisc with a mite under 200Gb free. Now that seems an ideal place to put data, don't you think?


<rubs chin dramatically>

As it happens, there is a solution, and it is a solution that works because all of the devices are using NTFS. In order to make this very clear, your expansion harddisc MUST be formatted NTFS. FAT32 won't cut it.

Obtaining the necessary software

The first thing to do - go here and download "junction.zip" and then unpack the file (junction.exe) to the root of the expansion harddisc. From henceforth, the expansion harddisc will be referred to as "G:" drive.

What we are going to do is create junction points. This is essentially Microsoft dialect for what the rest of us know as symbolic links (or "symlinks"). In other words, an object that points at something else. This is quite common with Unix (indeed most of the common mount points for media are probably symlinks as it is a lot easier to look at /sdcard than whatever that would be correctly mounted as); however as a concept it is rare with Windows.


Preparing the folders

Quit iTunes.

We are assuming you have not taken a full backup of your iThingy yet. If this is the case, the two folders quoted below will contain fragments as iTunes is programmed to try to backup regardless and this scatters rubbish around. In this case, you can delete the fragments. Incomplete backups are useless.
If you have taken a full backup, do not delete the folders. Instead, rename them.

So, the next step to do is to find the two folders referenced above (...\MobileSync\Backup and ...\iTunes Media\Mobile Applications) and delete them (or rename if live backups exist).

Now on G: (your USB harddisc), create the folder "iPad backup" and within that, create the folders "Backup" and "iTunes Media", like this:

Making the folders


Setting the junction points

You can probably guess how this is going to work. We are going to tell Windows that when a program wants to access C:\Documents and Settings\your_username\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup, it should really access G:\iPad backup\Backup (and likewise for the apps).

In order to do this, we shall create two batch files within the G:\iPad backup folder. Yeah, .BAT programming, something I bet most of you haven't thought about since Windows95 left MS-DOS 6.22 behind! Back in the day I was quite the BAT programmer, because it was a pain in the rear end to do stuff in TurboPascal and the only other option was QuickBASIC which was a whole new level of suck. So, menus and scripts and stuff were created using insane batch files. It's not a patch on Obey files (RISC OS) and both of those pale in comparison to the average Unix shell script, but for my needs than and our needs now, it does the job.

Here's the first file - make_junction.bat:

@ECHO Setting junction point for Apple iTunes backup
@IF EXIST "C:\Documents and Settings\Rick\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" GOTO ohcrap

@G:\junction "C:\Documents and Settings\Rick\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "G:\iPad backup\Backup"
@GOTO done

@ECHO Unable to set junction point, the required directory already exists!
@ECHO (have you already run this batch file?)

You will need to edit the original paths to reflect your system.

The first test, the IF EXIST is to bomb out if the folder already exists. It cannot exist, as when you create a junction point, this will look, to everything, like the folder itself. Hence, you can't create "Backup" if "Backup" already exists.

And now for the second file - break_junction.bat:

@ECHO Removing junction point for Apple iTunes backup
@IF NOT EXIST "C:\Documents and Settings\Rick_2\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" GOTO ohcrap

@G:\junction -d "C:\Documents and Settings\Rick_2\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup"
@GOTO done

@ECHO Unable to remove junction point, the required directory does not exist!

The test, this time, is IF NOT EXIST, to bomb out if the expected folder doesn't exist.


Using this modification

Ensure iTunes is not running.

Double-click on make_junction.bat.

Run iTunes.

If this is your first time, you will need to set up iTunes, as follows: Open up the "Edit" menu, click on "Preferences" and then click on the "Advanced" tab. You want to Change... the location of the media folder to the "iTunes Media" folder you created just now.

Changing the location of the media
You only need to do this the one time.

Now, click on the button to access your iPad via iTunes. This'll be the button on the upper-right of the iTunes window that says "iPad". ☺

In the middle of the window, a bit of gumph about backups.
You want to back up with encryption. This will store passwords and such, making a restoration process a lot simpler. DO NOT FORGET THE PASSWORD YOU PROVIDE, things get a bit sticky if you do (you need to enter your password to remove password protection, see?).
If you and you alone know your iTunes password, you might want to consider using that? Okay, it is a security weakness, but on the other hand having dozens of different passwords greatly increases the risk of you either 1, forgetting it or 2, obliterating security by writing it down. I found a credit card a while back that had a note taped to the back. The note read "PIN = 1496". Need I say more? ☺

Preparing backup

At this point, a backup will be prepared and transmitted to the host computer:

The backup in progress

Do not look in the backup folder. iTunes really did just copy some six thousand files adding up to about 1.8Gb (exact amounts will depend upon your device).

If you had the pop-up "Backing up" window (as shown above), then the backup will be "incomplete". You should click on the "Back up now" button. This ought to skip the actual backup (iTunes at least being smart enough not to run a full backup twice in a row) but it will begin the sync process - a part of which is to "Transfer your purchases". This is a fancy way of saying that it will back up your apps.
If it won't do it for any reason, you can force this by opening the File menu, and in the Devices submenu, click on "Transfer purchases from "devicename" option. It is not fast, so give it time... It looks as if the iPad zips up each app to send to the host.

If you are asked about automatic backups, be sure to click on the Not now option.. If you want to know why, Google has released a new version of Google Drive that - if you sign in - will sign you in equally on all other Google apps you may be running. This is not desired and it is not wanted (for example, Google Drive uses the same GMail account that I use with Android, while YouTube uses my website address for uploading videos for my blog). Additionally, it is a bit of a reach to say that if I log into 'X' then I want to be logged in to everything else. I do not plan to upgrade, and frankly if I have no choice than the method of upgrading will be to abandon Google Drive.

You have to be wary of what Google introduces in updates


Backup caveats

Your backup is still incomplete.

You see in the window above, where it says "A full backup of your iPad will be stored on this computer"? Well Apple apologists will provide you with a dozen reasons why the backup is seriously incomplete.
Your photos might be backed up (I have 1.2Gb of photos/videos in a 1.76Gb backup - reaslistic or not?). Your music won't be. The logic here is that your music is synced with iTunes so can easily be replaced.
But... Did you copy videos into the VLC app? Did you place a bunch of PDFs into the Adobe Reader app? Does your QuickOffice app contain files?
Well... That stuff is not copied.

You'll need to do it manually.

I expected either a dump of the filesystem or a dump of the flash memory. I didn't expect all of these "pieces" that add up to something rather less than a whole. I can create content with QuickOffice. The backup, apparently, won't back up this content.


When you're done

Quit iTunes, then run the break_junction.bat file.

An issue of note is that you cannot make junction points on shared networked drives. I would imagine that the results could be "interesting" if you made a junction to a drive that might no longer be present. Or, having an active junction may mean that Windows will refuse to allow you to "remove" the device. All in all, it is probably best to break the linkage when it is no longer required.


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