How to delete old iPhone backups

By , Aug 2, 2014

erase icloud backup iPhone

Manually backing up your iPhone, or taking advantage of iCloud automatic backups, is the best way to guarantee that you will be able to get all your data back in the event something goes wrong.

Whether you choose to backup via iTunes or iCloud, you might want to delete this backup at some point. Maybe the backup file got corrupted, or maybe you’re running out of storage space on your Mac or in iCloud. Or maybe you have an entirely different reason to want to delete your iPhone or iPad backup file.

Whatever the reason is, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we will learn how to delete an iPhone backup from a Mac and we’ll also see how to delete a backup file from iCloud…

Note that for the purpose of this tutorial, we will look into deleting the backup of an iPhone, but the steps are exactly identical if you were to delete an iPad backup file.

How to delete an iPhone backup in iTunes

If you use iTunes instead of iCloud to backup your iPhone or iPad, the backup file will be stored somewhere on your computer. We’re going to see how to delete this file directly from iTunes.

1) Launch iTunes.

2) In the Menu bar, go to iTunes > Preferences (if you’re on a Windows PC, go to Edit > Preferences).

iTunes Preferences menu

3) In the Preferences, navigate to the Devices tab.

iTunes preferences devices tab

4) You will now see a list of all the backup files that have been made on your computer, from all devices synced with your iTunes account. As you can see here, I have both iPhone and iPad backups, some of them dating all the way back to 2012 for devices I don’t even use anymore. We definitely want to clean up these backups. To do so, select the backup you want to delete. You can select multiple backups at a time by holding the Command key on your keyboard while selecting different files with the mouse.

Select iTunes back up to delete

5) Click on the Delete Backup button. You will see this popup asking you to confirm to delete the backup. Click Delete to confirm.

delete iPhone backup

The backup file has now been deleted from your computer. At this point, it is gone forever.

How to delete an iPhone backup in iCloud on Mac

If you backup your iPhone in iCloud, you can also easily access these backups and delete them directly from your Mac.

1) In the Menu bar of your Mac, go to  > System Preferences.

Mac system Preferences

2) Click on the iCloud icon.

system preferences icloud

3) This will load up your iCloud preferences. Click on the Manage button at the bottom right of the window.

iCloud preferences

4) This will load up all your iCloud content. Select the Backups tab at the top of the list, which will bring up all the iCloud backups from all your devices linked to your iTunes account. As you can see, I have both iPhone and iPad backups made in iCloud. Select the iCloud backup you want to delete.

Mac iCloud backups

5) Click the Delete button. A confirmation message will popup. Click Delete to confirm and erase the backup file once for all.

delete icloud backup mac

You may repeat the process with each backup file you want to delete.

How to delete an iPhone backup in iCloud directly from your iPhone

Now that we’ve seen how to delete a local iPhone or iPad backup and how to delete an iCloud backup from your Mac, we’re going to see how to delete the same iCloud backup files, but this time, directly from your iPhone or iPad.

1) On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage. At the top, you will see all your iOS backups.

manage icloud storage backup

2) Select the backup you want to delete.

icloud backup iPhone

3) Tap Delete Backup.

4) A popup will show up, asking if you want to turn off backup and delete all backup data for the device. Select Turn Off & Delete.

delete icloud backup from iPhone

5) The backup will be deleted but iCloud backup will be turned off too. This is fine if you don’t want to backup to iCloud anymore, but in case you do, make sure you go back in Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > and turn iCloud Backup on.

I hope you will find this guide useful. If you have any question, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

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  • Aneeq Naqvi

    What is that iphone 6 prototype doing there??? Just to tease us! Right!

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you :p

  • David Gitman

    It will help for the new users with theirs iPhone. Good job!

  • http://nurudin.jauhari.net/ Jauhari

    Which one better? iTunes Backup or iCloud Backup?

    • http://www.eazycomputers.com/ PhoneTechJay

      With iCloud it is somewhat more secured with your Apple ID and password, it is however space limited unless you purchase more GB storage from Apple. With iTunes you can restore with out an internet connection and it can be encrypted which keeps the backup pretty safe.

      • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

        Basically completeness VS convenience…

      • Erik

        Not sure “completeness” is the correct word there… I’d say it’s “virtually unlimited space vs convenience”, because as far as what is backed up to iCloud vs iTunes, there is no difference.

    • Jonathan

      Personally, I prefer iCloud. When it first came out, it seems iCloud backed up my photos, and iTunes didn’t (it may have changed now though), so I always stuck with iCloud since it backed up everything (discluding music in my iTunes library)

      Find I find iCloud is much less of a hassle. Never have to worry about it, just plug it in to charge, and it does the rest. While yes, it does limit you to 5 GB that’s free, I have 2 devices backing up to 1 account, and I still have about 2 GB of free space. Mainly because I regularly copy my photos off onto my computer.

      A worst case scenario, my device and computer are in the house and the house burns down, I still haven’t lost any data.

      • http://www.eazycomputers.com/ PhoneTechJay

        This may sound strange but if my house were burning down I’d definitely try and get my phone before getting out lol.

      • Jonathan

        So would I, to be dead honest, lol.

      • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

        The worst, worst, worst, case scenario is an Apple data centre burning down and your house burning down, the chances of both happening being very, very, slim of course…

      • Jonathan

        How about just nuking planet Earth? xD

  • @dongiuj

    Hey, I’ve got a question. How come EVERY time I “wake up” my iPhone the location arrow appears at the top of the screen? I only have Siri location service on. Never had this problem before and it’s damn annoying. Even typing this comment it just came on and now off. I don’t have cellular connection, only wifi.

    • Erik

      It’s probably Passbook or Frequent Locations.
      If you go to the Location Services area of your Settings app quickly enough after seeing the location icon you can tell which service/app is using it.

      • @dongiuj

        Right, I’ll switch that off and see if it does it again.

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