Full Guide to Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive on Windows & Mac

Why You Need to Backup iPhone to External Hard Drive

Nowadays, smart Phone has become an essential item in our life. We use them to deal with many issues and save amount of data. In case of phone memory running out and data loss, it is necessary to make a backup.

Do you know how to back up your iPhone data? Compared with iTunes and iCloud, external hard drive is also an alternative due to many advantages, such as large capacity and reliability. In a word, it’s absolutely a right choice to make backup for iPhone to external hard drive because you may be not willing to pay much for extra space in iCloud.

In the rest of this post, we’d like to introduce you how to back up iPhone to external hard drive on Windows and Mac computer. Please keep reading.

Part 1. Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive Windows

Before starting backing up iPhone to external hard drive, you need to do some preparations.

Firstly, Install iTunes on Windows.

Search iTunes in Windows Store. Download and install it on your Windows computer.

Secondly, Format the External Hard Drive to NTFS.

① Install MiniTool Partition Wizard on your Windows.

② Launch it to get the main interface. Make sure the connecting external hard drive can be visible in drive list.

③ Choose the external hard drive and click Format Partition feature on left panel.

④ Choose NTFS as file system and click OK. Click Apply on the main interface.

Thirdly, Assign a Drive Letter for the External Hard Drive

You can easily finish it via Windows Disk Management or Partition Wizard. Right click the external hard drive, and then choose Change Drive Letter and Path (Change Drive Letter option in Partition Wizard) to assign a drive letter for it.

Fourthly, Create a New Folder in the External Drive

① Enter File Explorer.

② Double click the external hard drive to open it in File Explorer.

③ Create a new folder. You may name it iPhoneBackup.

Then, let’s begin making iPhone backup to external hard drive.

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Detailed Steps to Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive Windows

Step 1: Type cmd in Windows search bar. Press Enter and choose Run as administrator.

Step 2: In Command Prompt window, copy this command mklink /J “C:\*\isunshare\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “#:\iPhoneBackup” and press Enter. This command is to change the default iPhone backup location on Windows to the new place on the external hard drive. After the command ends, a new folder named Backup will be visible in the iPhone backup location.

Step 3: Connect iPhone to Windows computer. Open iTunes.

Step 4: Make sure your iPhone can be detected by iTunes.

Then, click File tab > Device > Back Up > This Computer > Back Up Now and wait a moment.

After finishing these steps, you can open the folder on external hard drive to check whether there are iPhone backups from iTunes.

Part 2. Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive Mac

Also, you need to make preparations before backing up iPhone to external hard drive. In general, the whole process is very similar to that on Windows.

Preparation 1: Format External Hard Drive to FAT32

① Connect your external hard drive to Mac. Check if its file system is FAT32.

② If not, launch Disk Utility.

③ Click Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

④ On Disk Utility window, click the external hard drive and hit Erase on toolbar. Give a name to it and select MS-DOS (FAT). Click Erase to execute.

Preparation 2: Create a New Folder in External Hard Drive

Like the same operation in part 1, create a new folder and name it properly in the external hard drive.

Preparation 3: Copy Backup Folder to External Drive

You may find the iPhone backup folder created by iTunes by typing this path ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync into Spotlight. Then, copy this Backup folder to the new folder on external drive. Remove the Backup folder from Mac.

Methods to Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive on Mac

Step 1: Launch Terminal by clicking Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

Step 2: In the Terminal window, type and run this command ln -s /Volumes/*/MobileSync/Backup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup.

Step 3: Press Return to exit Terminal.

After completing these steps, your iPhone will be backed up to the external hard drive. Once the backup finishes, you can remove the old backup on Mac to free up storage space.


To sum up, except for iTunes and iCloud, it is a good solution to back up iPhone to external hard drive to keep iPhone data safe and spare more free memory. You can adopt the methods introduced above to make iPhone backup to external hard drive on Windows or Mac computer.

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