Speed Up Your iPhone Backups in iTunes

Sometimes backing up the iPhone in iTunes during a sync takes a while. According to Apple, now there's a new way to speed up the process.

Backup times can suffer when there are a large number of photos or videos on the Camera Roll. To speed up your iPhone backup the media files must be imported to your computer, removed from the camera roll, and re-synced to the iPhone.

First import the photos from your iPhone to the computer. On a Mac iPhoto makes this a simple process. Check "Delete Originals" when prompted to remove the transferred media files from the iPhone.

If you're using a Windows machine, use the scanner and camera wizard (XP) or the photo gallery (Vista) to import your iPhone pictures. Make sure the option to erase pictures after copying is selected.

With your media files safely copied to your computer and the Camera Roll empty, now you can sync the photos you want to keep on the iPhone with iTunes.

1. Ensure the iPhone is connected to your computer.
2. Open iTunes.
3. Select the iPhone in the Devices list in the left column.
4. Click the Photos tab.
5. Ensure that "Sync photos from" is enabled and choose the appropriate source from the adjacent pop-up menu. For example, if you imported your photos into an application (like iPhoto) you would select that application in the list. If you imported your photos to a folder (using Image Capture, Scanner and Camera Wizard, or Windows Photo Gallery), you would choose Choose Folder and then the folder in question.
6. Click Apply or Sync.

The photos are now synced to the iPhone photo application. Your backup will run much faster next time you sync, since iTunes will no longer have to backup a large Camera Roll.


Thanks for the great tip. I can't believe how much quicker my sync is after downloading 212 photos from my camera roll, deleting the camera roll on the iPhone and finally adding the photos back to the iPhone as a syncing album in iPhoto. My backup used to take forever. Now things are much quicker. Can't believe such a simple thing made such as difference.

Well, this solution won't help me cuz I don't keep photos on my iPhone. Every time I dock it, I download photos, if there are any. Yet, after 8 hours of synching last night, my iPhone was only 1/4 done. I do have a lot of books in Stanza and the books there do have cover images. However, I don't see why that is a problem because before I upgraded to 3.0, my iPhone used to just zip through synching, and I had more books then than now. Any solution would be helpful. Thanks.

Well, I tried this and there is a very unfortunate side effect of this. I had about 600 pictures on my iPhone 3G and, before removing the photos, I had about 200 MB free. I downloaded the photos which bumped my free space up to about 380 MB free. I then went into my phone sync options and told it to sync the same images I had removed back to my phone. In doing so, I got a warning that I didn't have enough room. It was going to need 430 MB of disk space on my phone to fit 180 MB worth of pictures. It sure didn't need that extra space when they were on there originally.

There's something stupid that the iPhone is doing in storing photos that have been synced from the computer and it eats up a lot of precious space!

By the way, it did actually speed up the sync time...

Another unfortunate side effect here was that I was unable to sync my images back to my phone so when my hard drive crashed (completely unrelated issue) a few days later, all of the images that would have been safely stored on my phone were lost for good...unfortunately, my automated backup hadn't picked up that folder yet...

So by running this method to "sync" camera roll and a photos folder on your computer, does this mean you have to always download new photos that you take on the camera in order to get photos from your phone to the computer?