Nowadays, lots of precious data are stored on phones. But there is a risk of data loss through theft or damages. So, it is wise to create backups in case of data loss. This post from MiniTool focuses on how to backup iPhone to external hard drive on PC and Mac. Scroll down the post to learn the details.

Why Backup iPhone to External Hard Drive?

Phones have become essential items in today’s life. There is a colossal amount of files stored on them. In case of data loss or memory storage space running out, those files should be backed up to another device soon enough. External hard drives are the ideal devices. Why? The reasons are as follows.

  • The price of large external hard drives is affordable. You can find an 8TB external hard drive at the online store for $149.76.
  • External hard drives are very reliable. Generally, an external hard drive can be used for 3 to 5 years.
  • External hard drives are portable and can take everywhere.
  • External hard drives are separate from your computer. Computer issues like system crash won’t threaten the files from your phone if you back up them to the external hard drive. Moreover, files from the phone can take up a jumbo amount of space on the computer. Low hard drive space on the computer will trigger many troublesome issues.

So, external hard drives are the top ideal device to hold files from your phone.

How to backup iPhone to external hard drive? Keep reading.

Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive on PC

This part will show what you need to complete before the backup and how to create the backup.

Preparations for Backing up iPhone to External Hard Drive on PC

There are preparations you need to complete before backing your iPhone to an external hard drive:

  1. format your external hard drive to NTFS to make backup progress go smoothly.
  2. assign a drive letter to the drive if it doesn’t have one
  3. create a new folder in the root of the drive (you can name it as “iPhoneBackup” or something like this)
  4. install iTunes on your Windows computer.

# Format your external hard drive to NTFS

To ensure the backup progress goes smoothly, you should check whether your external hard drive is an NTFS drive. Connect it to your PC and check its file system. If your external hard drive is not an NTFS drive, format it.

To format your external hard drive to NTFS on Windows, you can try MiniTool Partition Wizard. It is a professional partition manager, skilled in partitioning/formatting/wiping/clone/migrating disk and converting file system from FAT32 to NTFS and vice versa.

Here are steps to format an external hard drive to NTFS using MiniTool Partition Wizard.

Note: Formatting a drive will delete all files on it. So, make sure there is no important file in the drive before the formatting.

Free Download

Step 2: When the download process ends, install it on your computer and launch the software to get its main interface.

Step 3: Highlight the disk and then choose the Format Partition feature from the left panel.

choose Format Partition

Step 4: On the pop-up window, choose NTFS as the file system and then click the OK button.

choose NTFS

Step 5: Click the Apply button on the software main interface to execute changes.

# Assign a drive letter to your external hard drive

The way for backing up iPhone to external hard drive offered in this post will utilize the drive letter of your hard drive. So, if your external hard drive does not have a drive letter, assign one to it.

MiniTool Partition Wizard can also help you assign a drive letter to a drive. Have a try.

Step 1: Highlight your external hard drive and then choose the Change Drive Letter feature from the left panel.

Step 2: On the new pop-up window, choose a drive letter and then click the OK button.

assign a drive letter to a drive

Step 3: Click the Apply button. Your external hard drive will have a drive letter.

# Create a new folder in the root of the external drive

  1. Press Windows + E to open File Explorer.
  2. Double-click your external hard drive in File Explorer.
  3. Create a folder and name it as iPhoneBackup or something like this.

create a new folder

# Install iTunes on your computer

Launch Windows Store, search for iTunes, download it, and install it on your computer.

Start Backing up Your iPhone to Your External Hard Drive on PC

Now, everything ready. You can start to back up your iPhone to your external hard drive.

Step 1: Close iTunes on your PC if you are running it.

Step 2: Run Command Prompt as administrator.

  1. Go to your Windows search bar.
  2. Input Command Prompt.
  3. Right-click the result and then choose the Run as administrator.

Step 3: Once Command Prompt opens, run the following command to replace the default iPhone backup location on Windows (C:\*\isunshare\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup) with the new backup location for your iPhone on the external hard drive (#:\iPhoneBackup).

mklink /J "C:\*\isunshare\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "#:\iPhoneBackup"

Note: The * symbol refers to your user name; the # symbol refers to the drive letter of your external hard drive; change “iPhoneBackup” variable to the name of the folder on the hard drive in which you want to save the backup.

When the replacement is completed, a new folder called “Backup” with an arrow on it will instantly show in the default iPhone backup location.

Step 4: Connect your iPhone to your Windows computer.

Step 5: Open iTunes and wait for iTunes to detect your iPhone.

Step 6: When your iPhone is checked by iTunes, please

  1. click the File tab on the menu bar.
  2. select the Devices option and the Back Upoption.
  3. select the This computer option on the Summary tab.
  4. click the Back Up Now option.

A few seconds later, iTunes will back up your iPhone to your external hard drive. When the backup process ends, open the folder on the external hard drive and you will see the backup files from iTunes. You can delete the old older for iPhone backup to free up your computer space.

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Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive on Mac

The process of backing up iPhone to external hard drive on Mac is similar to that on PC. First, do some preparations. Second, start backing your iPhone to your external hard drive.

Preparations for Backing up iPhone to External Hard Drive on Mac

First, you should format your external hard drive to FAT32. Second, create a new folder for iPhone backup on the root of your external hard drive. Then, copy the folder for iPhone backup made with iTunes to the external hard drive and rename the folder on Mac or delete it.

# format your external hard drive to FAT32

Connect your external hard drive to Mac and then check if it has been formatted to FAT32 via Disk Utility. If not, format it to FAT32 via Disk Utility.

Note: Create a backup for the external hard drive if there are important files on it before the formatting.

To launch Disk Utility, you can:

  1. Click the Finder icon from the dock.
  2. Click the Applications option on the left pane of the Finder window.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Applications window to find the Utilities option and click it.
  4. Locate Disk Utility and click it.

Disk Utility

To format the external hard drive, you should:

  1. On the Disk Utility window, select the external hard drive.
  2. Choose the Erase option from the Disk Utility toolbar.
  3. Give the external hard drive a name and select FAT32 (MS-DOS).
  4. Click the Erase button to start the erasing.

# Create a new folder in the root of the external drive

Create and name a new folder on the formatted external hard drive that will be used for the backup.

# Copy the folder for iPhone backup made by iTunes to the external drive

Type ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync into Spotlight to find the folder called Backup. Then, copy the Backup folder to the new folder you created on the external hard drive. Finally, rename the Backup folder on your Mac or remove it.

Everything is ready. Start backing up your iPhone to the external hard drive.

Start Backing up Your iPhone to External Hard Drive on Mac

Step 1: Launch the Terminal application.

  1. Click the Finder icon on the dock.
  2. Choose the Applications.
  3. Choose the Utilities option.
  4. Find the Terminal application and open it.

Step 2: Run the following command on the Terminal window.

ln -s /Volumes/*/MobileSync/Backup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup

Note: The * symbol refers to your external drive name.

run the command on the Terminal window

Step 3: Hit the Return key and then close Terminal.

Your iPhone will be backed up to the external hard drive. Once the backup process ends, you can remove the old folder for iPhone backup on your Mac to free up its storage space.

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How to backup iPhone to external hard drive? This post is worth reading—it details the backup process on Windows and Mac.Click to Tweet                                                                                                                                                             

I Want Your Voice

Have you backed up your iPhone to an external hard drive?

For clarity on any doubts in this post, feel free to contact us in the comment zone below.

If you have some doubts about formatting the external hard drive to NTFS or assigning a drive letter to it, please contact us via [email protected]. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

How to Backup iPhone to External Hard Drive FAQ

What is the best way to backup an external hard drive?
The best way could be using another external hard drive. Click here to know how to back up an external hard drive to another external hard drive.
What are the 3 types of backups?
The three types of backups are full backup, incremental backup, and differential backup.
  • Full backup is to back up everything. It is the first copy and generally the most reliable copy.
  • Incremental backup is to back up the newly added files since the very last backup.
  • Differential backup only backs the newly added or changed files since the first full backup.
Can I delete files after backing up to external hard drive?
If you make many backups, you can delete files to free up storage space.
How many backups should I keep?
Three backups. Have at least three backups of your data to ensure data safety.
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