If I were to buy a computer for the sole purpose of backing up and syncing my iPhone, what would be my cheapest possible option? The only requirements are that it needs at least 32GB worth of free space (plus a little more), it needs to be capable of connecting to the Internet, and it needs to be capable of running iTunes (and that too a version of iTunes recent enough to support the iPhone 7).

I think the cheapest possible computers are Chromebooks, i.e. computers that run Chrome OS, but iTunes doesn't support Chrome OS. The other option is getting an Intel Compute Stick, which is like 100 or 200 dollars, and then inserting an SD card to expand its storage space.

Now I'm aware I could just back my phone to iCloud, but there are two problems with that. First, you have to pay if you want more than 5GB worth of storage. And second, in iCloud you can't do certain things you can do in iTunes, like like putting an app in your "purchased apps" list so that your phone can get the last compatible version of the app.

  • It might be easier to get something like this phone-flashdrive-usb-esque device from SanDisk.. You don't really need an entire computer to backup one phone. They're out of stock from Newegg and Amazon, but you can get the 32GB version from Newegg Buisness here. Unless... you really want a laptop, in which case something like a chromebook would probably be suitable. – 0-60FPS Feb 21 '17 at 4:21
  • Agreed. All you need is something that has the storage capacity of what personal files you have on your device. Note that there are also online storage options. Heck, you could even build an inexpensive linux based system with a Raspberry Pi 3, a high capacity USB-2 thumb drive for storage (as the OS is on a MicroSD card) and that would do it lol. – NZKshatriya Feb 21 '17 at 5:16
  • @0-60FPS But can I use this to do things like backing up my phone and restoring my phone from backup? Regarding Chromebooks, iTunes doesn't support Chrome OS. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 21 '17 at 6:08
  • @NZKshatriya Anything I have to "build" doesn't sound very attractive to me. In any case, I want some solution that allows me to sync with iTunes. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 21 '17 at 6:10
  • I would like to make note that with iCloud if you want to have just 32GB then you can use the 50GB plan at $0.99/month for 200 months or about 16 years for $200, which is quite a bit. – Rubydesic Feb 24 '18 at 22:14

I see on ebay used & refurbished Dell optiplex and other HP stuff for as low as $24.

a legit copy of Windows 10 (32-bit) I've never seen for less than $99.

Whatever hardware you get if it doesn't include windows, then you could go with a free linux OS like CentOS, SuSe or ubuntu. And because you mention itunes, you would need to install WINE and you can read about that here: https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-use-itunes-on-linux-1999251

I also see refurb's on rottenegg for $44 and that apparently includes win10 but i'd be weary (it probably only means there's a windows authenticity sticker on the case).

FYI with any dell hardware if you can get a Dell Restore CD, that has windows on it and you could simply reinstall windows cleanly from that dell restore cd, a huge + going with Dell hardware.


I got the N22 chromebook rather cheap with 32 GB and by the way some versions of this model are sold with Windows and 64 GB but I don't know how patient you are waiting for a Celeron processor and eMMC or slow SD cards to finish the job. In theory, if you are very patient you can install Linux next to Chrome OS (not chroot) to install VintualBox to host a Windows VM which runs iTunes and backs up to SD card. I ran a Windows VM on my new Asus Flip C302, but the Celerons are also VT-x capable but 4 GB RAM would be required for such a setup I guess. So if you can, better get a version which already runs Windows and get a fast and reliable SD card. I have never used iTunes on Windows and never backed up/owned an iPhone, so I have no experience with that, I expect Windows behaves the way I know it does.

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    Usually with backups, the best thing to do is just do it while you sleep lol. You recharge, phone recharges, win win. – NZKshatriya Feb 21 '17 at 5:17
  • To wake up and find out that the backup process failed and the phone is out of juice? :) Sorry I'm expecting the worst because I have seen many things in my career so far. But chromebooks are luxurious powerbanks. Sidenote I just searched a bit around and found some tutorial about idevicebackup2/libimobiledevice but many people recommended to use a VM instead. – LiveWireBT Feb 21 '17 at 5:23
  • You have had phones die on you while hooked up to a charger (USB or wall)? There is a reason why I use a dumb puck phone, and keep my computer oriented crap on a laptop lol. Much less to go wrong. Not to mention the security nightmare that are smartphones lol. – NZKshatriya Feb 21 '17 at 5:27
  • @NZKshatriya A smartphone may consume more than 500mW which USB ports were initially designed to deliver, but many cheap cables are too long to transfer as much, which can led to software on the phone consuming more power than charged over the cable to the device. It gets more complex with new standards (USB PD), semi standards (Quick Charge) and more cheap non-certified stuff. semiaccurate.com/2016/11/11/… If you are interested in technology you should look at how these things work (to control them) instead of avoiding them. :) /OT – LiveWireBT Feb 21 '17 at 6:19

You can build a low budget PC for this work to run windows 10

Check the PC build below

Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 1200 = $60

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-A320M-S2H = $55

RAM: G.Skill RIPJAWS-V 4GB 2666bus Desktop RAM = $18

SSD: PNY CS2030 2280" 240GB M.2 2280 PCIe Nvme Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) = $35

CASE: Any decent Desktop case with power supply = $20

This build will cost you around $190

  • Don't buy power supplys so cheap, they are probably unstable – Irsu85 Jun 11 at 7:50

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