We use cookies to ensure that you get the best experience on our website. Click here to learn more. Got it

How to Backup iPhone to External Drive (iOS 16 Supported)

Do you have large amount of data on your iPhone that you think your PC or Mac may not have sufficient storage space to accommodate? Or do you want a separate storage location for the photos and videos on your device?

Backing up your iPhone to an external drive is not only an effective way to have a separate copy of the data on your device, but also a great way to back up some of the more storage-consuming data like photos and videos.

In this article, we are going to look at three different ways to backup your iPhone to an external hard drive.

Way 1: Flexibly Backup iPhone to External Drive without iTunes

One of the best and perhaps the easiest ways to back up your iPhone to an external drive is to use a third-party tool like FoneGeek iOS Data Backup & Restore. This program makes it very easy for you to backup iPhone/iPad to your computer or an external hard drive without using iTunes. Also, you're allowed to preview the contents in the backup file and selectively restore any data from the backup to your iPhone/iPad.

Main Features of FoneGeek iOS Data Backup & Restore

  • You can back up contacts, messages, call history, notes, photos ,videos, WhatsApp, and more data on your iPhone or iPad to your computer in one click.
  • You are able to create new iPhone backup without overwriting the old one and view the data in the backup file with all details.
  • You can preview and selectively restore any data on your backup to an iOS device according to your needs.
  • You won't lose any data on your device. The program guarantees the protection of data on iPhone/iPad during the backup and restore process.
  • You can use this tool on all iOS devices and iOS versions, including the newest iPhone 14/13/12 and iOS 16/15.


Here's how to backup your iPhone to an external drive without iTunes:

Step 1: Download and install this iPhone Data Backup & Restore tool on to your PC or Mac. Launch it after successful installation and then select "Backup & Restore" from the top menu.

backup restore

Step 2: Plug your iPhone or iPad to the computer with USB cable and wait for the iPhone data backup tool to recognize the device. Once the program has detected your device, you should see a list of all the data on the device. Here, select the specific types of file that you wish to back up to the external drive.


Step 3: Click on "Backup" and choose the external drive as the backup file path and then the program will begin the backup process.

backup completed

Step 4: Keep your iPhone/iPad connected to the computer until the backup is complete. You can click "View Backup Data" to see the backup file when the process is complete.

preview backup

Way 2: Copy and Move iTunes Backup to External Hard Drive

If you have ever backed up your iPhone or iPad to iTunes, your backup folders are stored on your computer's internal drive. Luckily, you are able to get these iOS backups off your computer and onto an external hard drive. You can simply do that by copying and pasting the existing iTunes backup to an external drive, and then free up space on your PC or Mac. Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Connect the external drive to the computer and then use the following simple procedure to locate your iTunes backup location:

  • On Windows 7 and Vista: C: /Users/AppData/Roaming/Apple Computer/MobileSync/Backup/
  • On Windows 8/10: C:/Users/YOURUSERNAME/AppData/Roaming/Apple Computer/MobileSync/Backup/
  • On Mac: Hit “Command + Shift + G” on the keyboard, open the "Go to Folder" and then paste in "~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/"

itunes backup location

Step 2: Locate the backup folder, copy it and then paste it somewhere on your external hard drive.

Please Note:

  • This method only works if you have already made an iTunes backup of your iPhone/iPad on your computer.
  • Although you can move the iPhone backup to external hard drive, you still can't access and view the content in the backup files.

Way 3: Backup iPhone to External Drive with Terminal Command

You can also use command line to create a symbolic link (symlink) in iTunes that will automatically save all backups to an external drive rather than the internal drive. This method requires knowledge of the command line and directory structures. Here's how to do it on Windows and Mac:

On MacOS:

  1. Begin by locating the iPhone backup created with iTunes. You can do that by typing "~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync" and then locating the file named "Backup".
  2. Connect the external drive to the computer and then create a folder on the drive. You can name the folder something like "iPhone backup" or "Backup" for easy reference.
  3. Copy the "Backup" folder in iTunes to the new folder on the external folder. Change the name of the "Backup" folder on the Mac to "Old-Backup".
  4. Now go to Applications > Utilities to open the Terminal application. Type the following symlink in "ln -s /Volumes/ [External Drive]/MobileSync/Backup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup", replacing "external drive" with the name of the drive. Hit Return and then close Terminal.

This will redirect the iPhone backup to the external drive instead of the local drive. You can then delete the "Old-Backup" folder on your Mac to create more space.

On Windows:

  1. Connect the external drive to the Windows PC computer and then create a new folder on the drive. You can name it "iOS Backup" or something similar.
  2. Now go to C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup (Username refers to the username on this computer) to locate the iPhone backup folder. Copy it to the new folder on the external drive and then rename it "Old-Backup".
  3. Now hit Windows + R to open the run box on your computer. Type in "cmd" and hit enter.
  4. In the command prompt window that appears, enter the following code "mklink /J "C:\Users\ [Username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "f:\iOSBackup" and then hit enter to run the command. (Remember to change (Username) with your actual username on the computer.

From now on, every time you create a backup of your iPhone on iTunes, the backup file will be redirected to the external drive.


You may need to backup iPhone to an external drive as a way to save some space on your Mac or PC. Whatever the reason, being able to back up your iPhone to an external drive is a choice each one of us should have.

Choose one of the three methods above and follow the simple steps outlined to implement it correctly. Share your thoughts, comments and questions below and we'll do our best to find you solutions.

Fay J. Melton

Fay J. Melton has explored the area of technology and software for more than 5 years and he is enthusiastic about helping users solve various technology issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

homeHome>Backup & Restore>How to Backup iPhone to External Drive (iOS 16 Supported)
Appoword by

Copyright © 2023 FoneGeek Software Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved