How to Back Up iPhone to External Hard Drive

Alicia Santos

iPhone, Tutorials

Backing up your iPhone is essential to ensure that your data is safe and secure. While iCloud provides a convenient option for backing up your device, it might not always be the most ideal solution due to limited storage space and the need for a stable internet connection.

In such cases, backing up your iPhone to an external hard drive can be a great alternative. In this tutorial, we will guide you through the process of backing up your iPhone to an external hard drive step by step.


  • An iPhone
  • An external hard drive with sufficient storage capacity
  • A lightning cable or USB-C cable depending on your iPhone model
  • A computer (Mac or Windows) with iTunes installed

Step 1: Connect Your External Hard Drive to Your Computer

Begin by connecting your external hard drive to your computer using the appropriate cable. Make sure that the hard drive is recognized by your computer and accessible.

Step 2: Open iTunes on Your Computer

Launch iTunes on your computer. If you don’t have iTunes installed, you can download it from the Apple website and install it.

Step 3: Connect Your iPhone to Your Computer

Take the lightning cable or USB-C cable and connect one end to your iPhone’s charging port and the other end to an available USB port on your computer.

Step 4: Trust Your Computer on Your iPhone (if prompted)

If this is the first time you are connecting your iPhone to this computer, you may see a prompt on your device asking you to “Trust This Computer.” Tap “Trust” and enter your passcode if prompted.

Step 5: Select Your iPhone in iTunes

In iTunes, you should now see an icon representing your iPhone. Click on it to select your device.

Step 6: Enable Backup to External Hard Drive

In the left sidebar of the iTunes window, you will find a section called “Backups.” Click on it to expand the options.

Under the “Automatically Back Up” section, select “This computer.”

This ensures that your backup is stored locally on your computer rather than in iCloud.

Next, check the box that says “Encrypt local backup” if you want to secure your backup with a password. It is always recommended to encrypt your backups for added security.

Finally, click on the “Back Up Now” button to start the backup process. Depending on the amount of data on your iPhone, this process may take some time.

Step 7: Choose Your External Hard Drive as Backup Location

Once the backup process is complete, it’s time to move the backup files to your external hard drive. Open Finder (on Mac) or File Explorer (on Windows) and navigate to the location where iTunes stores its backups.

On Mac:

  • Click on “Go” in the menu bar at the top of your screen.
  • Select “Go to Folder.”
  • Type “~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/” and press Enter.

On Windows:

  • Open File Explorer by pressing Windows key + E.
  • In File Explorer’s address bar, type “%appdata%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\” and press Enter.

Once you are in the backup folder, you will see a series of folders with random names. These represent your iPhone backups.

Identify the latest backup by checking the date and time modified. Copy this folder and paste it into your external hard drive.

Step 8: Safely Eject Your External Hard Drive

Before disconnecting your external hard drive from your computer, ensure that you safely eject it to avoid data corruption. Right-click on the external hard drive icon in Finder (on Mac) or File Explorer (on Windows) and select “Eject.” Wait for the confirmation message before unplugging the cable.


Congratulations! You have successfully backed up your iPhone to an external hard drive.

This method provides an additional layer of security for your valuable data, especially when you have limited iCloud storage or an unreliable internet connection. Remember to regularly update your backups to keep them up to date with your iPhone’s data. Now you can rest assured knowing that your important files, photos, contacts, and more are safe and easily accessible whenever needed.

If you ever need to restore your iPhone from this backup, simply connect your external hard drive to your computer and follow the steps to restore from iTunes backup.

Note: This tutorial is applicable for iPhones running iOS 12 or later versions.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. The author and the website do not take any responsibility for any potential data loss or damage that may occur during the backup process. It is always recommended to have multiple copies of important data stored in different locations.

Android - iPhone - Mac

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