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How do I Store my Decipher TextMessage Data to An External Drive?

Kelly Wilkerson

Categories: Decipher TextMessage | View Comments

Decipher TextMessage saves your iPhone text message and iMessage history in your computer user account's area designated for "app storage" as is recommended for third party apps on macOS and Windows. The great thing about this is that your DTM data is stored in your user account data (protected by your user accounts setup if you share your computer). The not great thing about user account storage is that it's usually on the "primary" hard drive, which can cause you to run into drive-space limitations on the primary drive.

On Windows, your user account data is stored in the %appdata% folder which is usually something like C:\Users\your username\AppData\Roaming but varies by Windows configurations. On macOS, your user account data is stored in ~/Library/Application Support which is usually on the Macintosh HD volume. In either case, the instructions we'll get to shortly will help you find the Decipher TextMessage data on your computer.

A popular way to work around the limitations in using this storage location in the user account data is to use junctions (Windows) or symbolic links (a.k.a. "symlinks" macOS) to redirect a folder to another drive. We can use this same trick to relocate your Decipher TextMessage data to another location if you want to do that.

One quick caveat: If you use symlinks/junctions to redirect to a network-shared drive, please remember your drive connection isn't as stable as a local drive or USB external. Network shared drives tend to have connections that time out or go intermittent, which is ok for copying files to and from usually, but don't work as well for apps expecting a stable consistent connection to read/write.

One quick tangent on that caveat: I absolutely recommend against using this technique to map iTunes backups to a network shared drive, but more on that at the end of this article.

Storing your Decipher TextMessage data to an external drive on Windows using junctions

I am going to refer to your primary drive as C:\ and your external drive as D:\, please change the drive letters appropriately for your main hard drive and external drive letters.

We have to get to your existing Decipher TextMessage stored data (which is the Decipher Media folder in your user account app data section), move it to the drive/location that you want, and then create the junction (link) from the usual app data folder to your real location on the different drive:

  1. Close Decipher TextMessage if it's open now. (Very important, since we're moving around the files it uses!)

  2. Let's get to the Application Data section:

    • Windows 8 and 10: In the Windows search bar type %appdata% (with the percents) and press return/enter. A file browser window will open to the Application Data folder. (or Roaming inside of Application Data/AppData)
    • Windows 7, Vista, XP: From the start menu, select Run. In the run box, type %appdata% (with the percents) and press return/enter. A file browser window will open to the Application Data folder. (or Roaming inside of Application Data)
  3. Inside of the folder that opened, you should see a sub-folder named Decipher Media. This entire folder contains Decipher TextMessage data, so this will be the folder we relocate.

  4. Go to the drive that you would like to store your Decipher TextMessage data on, and move that Decipher Media folder to where you would like to store the data. If you want to start fresh, you could also delete the existing Decipher Media folder, and just create a new empty folder where you would like to store the data. I'm going to assume you moved the existing folder to be D:\Decipher Media -- it can be anywhere and named anything you like though.

  5. And now, we link them together! We want to start a Command Prompt with administrator privilege. (We need admin permission to create a folder junction where we want to make it.)

    Windows 7 and Vista:

    • Open the Start menu by clicking the orb in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.
    • Type cmd in the search bar at the bottom of the menu.
    • Right-click on cmd in the search results for Programs, and select Run as administrator. Depending on your computer settings, you may be asked to provide an administrator password before you can continue.

    Windows 7 opening command prompt

    Windows 8:

    • Move the mouse to the upper right-hand corner of the screen to make the vertical menu bar appear. Click Search.
    • Type cmd in the search bar and hit the Enter key on your keyboard.
    • Right-click on cmd in the search results for Programs, and select Run as administrator. Depending on your computer settings, you may be asked to provide an administrator password before you can continue.

    Windows 8 opening command prompt

    Windows 10:

    • Tap the the magnifying glass (search, next to the windows/start menu button), type in cmd, and a search result will appear for Command Prompt.
    • Right-click on that and select "Run as Administrator." Depending on your computer settings, you may be asked to provide an administrator password before you can continue.
  6. A black box with a flashing cursor will open; this is the Command Prompt.

  7. In the Admistrator Command Prompt, type or paste:

mklink /j D:\"Decipher Media" %appdata%\"Decipher Media"

Note that I am lazy, so instead of typing out the long path to the original Decipher Media folder location, I used the system abbreviation %appdata%, with the percents, to mean the user application data.

Please remember to replace D:\"Decipher Media" with the right drive letter and location of the relocated Decipher Media folder.

To paste into the command prompt window, right-click the window title bar, click Edit on the menu, and click Paste.

You'll see a message like

Junction created for C:\app data stuff\Decipher Media <<===>> D:\Decipher Media

We're going to go find your existing Decipher TextMessage data, move it to the drive you want to store it on, and then setup the symlink to from the original location to your new location.

  1. Close Decipher TextMessage if it's open now. (Very important, since we're moving around files the it uses!)

  2. Open Finder, and select the Go menu at the top of the screen. Hold the Option key and select the Library menu option from the Go menu. (On OS X Lion and above, Library will only appear with the Option key held. On some macOS Sierra configurations, Shift + Option may be needed to get the Library menu item to appear.)

  3. From there, open the folder Application Support. Now we're in the folder "~/Library/Application Support" or your user account's application data folder. You should see a folder named Decipher Media there.

  4. Move that Decipher Media folder to wherever you would prefer to store it. You can also rename to whatever you like (but don't move or rename the files inside of the Decipher Media folder, or DTM may not work correctly later.)

  5. Now let's make the symbolic link! Click the macOS Spotlight search (the magnifying glass in the upper right corner) and type Terminal. Then press enter to open the program Terminal.

  6. In terminal, the command we're going to be typing is:

ln -s YOUR_EXTERNAL_DRIVE_FOLDER ~/Library/Application\ Support/Decipher\ Media

replacing YOUR_EXTERNAL_DRIVE_FOLDER with your moved Decipher Media folder. An easier way to do all of this is the following:

  • Type ln -s followed by a space, and don't press return yet.

  • Drag your Decipher Media folder from the external drive onto the Terminal window this will fill in the location of the external drive for you.

  • Copy and paste ~/Library/Application\ Support/Decipher\ Media and then press return.

Can I store iTunes backups on an external drive this same way?

The answer is yes, you can! I really want to emphasize that you should make sure to use a good quality external drive, be kind to your external drive, and make sure that USB cable is secure if you do this. iTunes doesn't really "notice" when drive connectivity is lost, so using a drive with intermittent/buggy connection is bad news because you won't find out if the drive connection went down while you were making backups. (Hence, I'd much rather write an article helping you move your DTM data than your iTunes backups to help you if you're crunched for space.)

Just another reminder that I absolutely do NOT recommend using a network shared drive for your iTunes backups. On macOS, I've definitely seen network drive timeouts break iTunes backups (without any error message at the time), especially since Sierra.

The process is similar to relocating the Decipher Media folder, and the location of the iTunes backups is actually quite close by! Instead of Decipher Media, you'll be relocating:

  • %appdata%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup on Windows
  • ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup on macOS

Here's a few great references in case you're interested in doing this. It's very similar to the Decipher Media folder relocation so you can use the instructions above to help you with the instructions in these references.

Is it possible to backup iOS devices to an external drive? - Ask Different - macOS

iPhone/iPad back up to different hard drive? - Ask Different - Windows