[Full Guide] How to Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive?

2023-10-27 20:13:14/Posted by Alleny Gavinto iOS Transfer Topic/Follow @ MobiKin

The security of iPhone data is a persistent concern, given the potential for data loss, including critical content like photos, videos, contacts, and messages. To mitigate these risks, proactive iPhone backups are crucial. External hard drives offer a practical solution, saving valuable PC storage and providing resilience against viruses and attacks. These backups not only safeguard your data but also simplify the transition to a new iPhone. This guide will walk you through the process of how to backup iPhone to external hard drive, ensuring your data remains secure and easily accessible.

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Part 1: Why Use an External Hard Drive to Back up Your iPhone Data?

Using an external hard drive to back up your iPhone data offers several advantages and is a good practice for data security and management. Here are some reasons why you might want to use an external hard drive for iPhone backups:

  • Data Security: External hard drives are typically offline and not connected to the internet, making it less susceptible to hacking or unauthorized access compared to cloud-based storage solutions.
  • Larger Storage Capacity: External hard drives often have much larger storage capacities than your iPhone, allowing you to keep multiple backups and store other data like photos, videos, documents, and more.
  • Faster Restores: If you need to restore your iPhone from a backup, it can be faster to do so from a local external hard drive compared to downloading data from the cloud, especially if you have a slow or unreliable internet connection.
  • No Subscription Costs: Many cloud-based backup services come with subscription fees, while external hard drives have a one-time cost. Over time, this can be more cost-effective.
  • No Internet Dependency: You can create backups even without an internet connection. This is especially useful when you're in an area with limited or no internet access.

It's important to note that while external hard drives offer many advantages, they are also susceptible to physical damage, loss, or theft. To enhance data security, consider keeping the external drive in a secure location and possibly creating multiple backups in different locations. Additionally, regular backups are crucial to ensure that your data is up to date in case of any unexpected incidents. Can you back up iPhone to external hard drive? The following content tells you how.

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Part 2: How to Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive with Assistant for iOS [Windows/Mac]

To make it simple for all users to back up their iPhone data to an external hard drive, we'll begin with the easiest solution. You'll need a third-party application for this task, and one recommended option is MobiKin Assistant for iOS. This software is a comprehensive iOS phone manager that allows you to perform various iOS-related tasks without relying on iTunes. With MobiKin Assistant for iOS, you can effortlessly back up your iPhone's music, photos, videos, and more to an external hard drive with minimal effort. It streamlines the process, ensuring that you can back up both individual files and entire folders to your external hard drive in just a few clicks.

One-stop Tool to Backup iPhone Data with One Click

  • Supports backing up iPhone/iPad data to computer, iTunes and external hard drive.
  • Restore data from backup to iOS device with one click.
  • Allows you to preview any items, and selectively back up and restore iOS devices.
  • No data loss during the backup and restore.
  • Supports almost all iOS data types, including Video, Photo, Music, eBooks, Contacts, Text Messages, Notes, Safari Bookmarks, Voice Memo, Podcasts, Ringtone, Playlist, etc.
  • Fully compatible with iPhone 15/14/13/12/12 Pro (Max), iPhone 11/11 Pro/11 Pro Max, iPhone X/XR/XS/XS Max, iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone 7/7 Plus, iPhone 6/6S/6 Plus, iPod touch, iPad, etc.

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A quick tutorial you can follow to back up iPhone/iPad to external hard drive with Assistant for iOS.

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to computer

After getting the MobiKin Assistant for iOS downloaded and installed on your PC or Mac computer, launch it and connect your iPhone and the external hard drive to the computer. Once connected, Assistant for iOS will recognize your iPhone automatically.

run assistant for ios

Step 2: Select the iPhone data to back up

On the next page of the Assistant for iOS, you can see all accessible file types are listed on the left sidebar. Go ahead to preview and select the files you want to back up by ticking them off.

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Step 3: Backup iPhone to external HD

After selecting all the iPhone data you need, you can click on the "Export" button on the top menu, choose the connected external hard drive as the output location. After that, all the selected iPhone files will be saved to the external drive automatically.

Part 3: How to Move iPhone Backup to External Drive with Finder [Mac]

If you're using iOS 13 and macOS Catalina or newer versions, the process of how to back up iPhone to external hard drive on Mac is relatively straightforward. You can now back up iPhone directly to external hard drive using the Finder application. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Backup iPhone data to Mac

  • Begin by connecting your iPhone and the external hard drive to your Mac.
  • Locate the Finder application on your dock or use the Command + Spacebar shortcut to access Spotlight Search and search for "Finder."
  • In the left panel, find the "Location" section and select your iPhone.
  • Under the "General" tab, check the option that says, "Back up all the data on your iPhone to this Mac."
  • backup iphone to mac via finder

  • If required, tap the "Trust Computer" button on your iPhone.
  • Now, click on the "Back Up Now" button.

Step 2: Transfer iPhone backup from Mac to the external drive

  • Once the backup process is complete, click on the "Manage Backups" button.
  • Control-click on your backup and choose the "Show in Finder" option. (Where is your iPhone backup?)
  • find iphone backup from mac

  • Control-click on your backup folder and select "Copy."
  • Locate your external drive in the left panel and paste the copied backup.
  • Alternatively, you can access the "Go" menu and choose "Go to Folder."
  • where is my iphone backup stored on mac with macos mojave or earlier

  • Paste the following path: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup.
  • Now, copy and paste the folder onto your external hard drive.

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Part 4: How to Save iPhone Backup to External Hard Drive with iTunes [Windows]

A more conventional method for creating a backup of your iPhone data on an external hard drive from your Windows computer involves utilizing iTunes. This approach consists of two primary stages: transferring your iPhone data to your Windows PC via iTunes and subsequently relocating the iPhone backup to the external hard drive.

  • Commence by connecting your iPhone to your Windows computer using the Lightning to USB cable. If it's your initial pairing of the iPhone with your PC, your iPhone might request permission to 'Trust' the computer.
  • Open iTunes on your computer and click on the Device icon positioned in the top-left corner of the iTunes interface, representing your iPhone.
  • Within the "Automatically Back Up" section, opt for the "This Computer" choice. Initiate the backup procedure by selecting the "Back Up Now" button.
  • back up iphone to itunes

  • The duration of the process may vary depending on the size of your backup. You can track the backup's progress from the top section of the iTunes window.
  • After your iPhone data has been effectively backed up on your computer, disconnect your iPhone and establish a connection with your external hard drive. You can then generate a dedicated folder on the external hard drive for the clear identification of your backed-up data.
  • Input "%appdata%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" in the File Explorer folder's address bar to find the iPhone backup data. Then, proceed to copy the backup data and paste it into the designated folder on your external hard drive.

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Part 5: FAQs about Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive

Q1: Can I just back up my photo library to an external hard drive?

Yes, you can. MobiKin Assistant for iOS provides selective backup functionality, allowing you to back up only the file types you want to back up. If you just want to back up your photo library, you can select just the photos, then select the external hard drive as the backup location, and finally click "Export" to start the backup.

Q2: Why is my iTunes not recognizing my iPhone?

When you connect your iPhone to your computer, a few key factors come into play. Firstly, it's essential to ensure that your iPhone is unlocked. Furthermore, confirming that you've tapped the "Trust this computer" option on your iPhone is crucial, as it grants iTunes full access.

Should the problem persist, here are some troubleshooting steps you can take:

  • Disconnect your iPhone, then reconnect it to your computer.
  • Force close the iTunes application and initiate a restart.
  • Ensure that you've updated iTunes to the most recent version.
  • Consider updating your iOS operating software to the latest version as well.

Q3: How to Transfer Photos from iCloud to External Hard Drive?

If you find yourself running low on iCloud storage and need to free up space, you can achieve this by transferring your iCloud photos to an external drive. Here's how you can go about it:

  • Begin by opening your web browser and navigating to
  • Enter your login credentials and access your iCloud account by signing in.
  • Double-click on the Photos app to access your photos on
  • Select the photos you wish to transfer and click on the "Download" option located in the top right corner.
  • If you've downloaded multiple images, they will be compressed into a zip file.
  • Now, find the downloaded zip folder and make a copy of it.
  • Finally, paste this zip folder into your external drive.


Backing up your iPhone to an external hard drive is a secure and space-saving choice. This article provides three comprehensive methods for users. We recommend you use MobiKin Assistant for iOS. This approach doesn't occupy your phone storage and offers more portable backups. It can be done through USB or WiFi. While Finder and iTunes offer built-in options for backup, their limitations make third-party apps, like MobiKin Assistant for iOS, a superior choice for control, security, and storage, ensuring your essential iPhone data is well-preserved.

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Alleny Gavin
Alleny GavinChief Editor
A chief editor at MobiKin, brings over a decade of experience in technical writing and holds a B.A. in English Literature. With a background as a Project Manager in the IT industry, he has authored 1000+ articles on, offering expert solutions for iOS issues. Gavin, a tech enthusiast, effortlessly recommends software with passion and extensive expertise in smartphones and software.
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