How to Backup iPhone to External Drive: A Step-by-Step Guide

Backing up your iPhone to an external drive is a smart move for anyone who wants to ensure their data is safe. It’s a simple process that involves connecting your iPhone to a computer, using iTunes or Finder to create a backup, and then transferring that backup to an external drive. Let’s dive into the detailed steps, shall we?

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Backup iPhone to External Drive

Before we begin, it’s important to understand that backing up your iPhone to an external drive ensures that you have a separate copy of all your important data. This can be a lifesaver if your phone gets lost, stolen, or damaged.

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer

Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable.

Once connected, you may need to unlock your iPhone and allow the computer to access it. Look for a message on your iPhone’s screen asking for your permission.

Step 2: Open iTunes or Finder

Open iTunes if you’re using a PC or MacOS Mojave or earlier, or open Finder if you’re on MacOS Catalina or later.

iTunes and Finder are the tools provided by Apple to manage your iPhone’s content from your computer. They’re also the gateway to backing up your data.

Step 3: Select your iPhone

In iTunes, click on the device icon near the top left of the window. In Finder, select your iPhone from the sidebar.

This step ensures you’re managing the correct device. Your iPhone’s details should now be visible on the screen.

Step 4: Create a backup

In iTunes, click on “Back Up Now” under the “Manually Back Up and Restore” section. In Finder, click on “Back Up Now” under the “General” tab.

This process may take several minutes to several hours, depending on how much data you have on your iPhone.

Step 5: Locate the backup file on your computer

On a PC, you can find the backup in Users(username)AppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup. On a Mac, it’s in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/.

You may need to show hidden files to see these folders. They contain the backup file, which is what you’ll transfer to your external drive.

Step 6: Transfer the backup to your external drive

Copy the backup folder and paste it onto your external drive.

Make sure your external drive has enough space for the backup. Once the transfer is complete, eject the external drive properly to avoid corrupting the data.

After completing these steps, your iPhone’s data will be safely stored on your external drive. You can now breathe easier knowing that you have a backup in case anything happens to your phone.

Tips: How to Backup iPhone to External Drive

  • Always eject your external drive safely after transferring files to avoid data corruption.
  • Regularly backup your iPhone to keep the backup file up to date.
  • Encrypt your backup by selecting “Encrypt local backup” in iTunes or Finder for added security.
  • Label your external drive backups with the date and device name for easy organization.
  • Keep your external drive in a safe place to protect your data from physical damage or theft.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I backup my iPhone?

You should backup your iPhone as often as you feel is necessary, but at least once a month is a good rule of thumb.

Backing up regularly ensures that you don’t lose too much data if something happens to your phone. Consider the frequency of new data like photos, contacts, and messages when deciding how often to backup.

Can I backup my iPhone without a computer?

Yes, you can use iCloud to backup your iPhone without a computer.

iCloud backups happen automatically when connected to WiFi and plugged into a power source. However, you have limited free storage, so an external drive can offer more space for backups.

What’s the advantage of backing up to an external drive over iCloud?

Backing up to an external drive offers more storage space without additional costs and can be faster than backing up to iCloud, depending on your internet connection.

An external drive backup is also in your physical possession, giving you more control over your data.

Can I backup multiple iPhones to the same external drive?

Yes, you can backup multiple iPhones to the same external drive, but make sure to organize the backups in separate folders.

Label each folder clearly with the device name and backup date to avoid confusion.

What should I do if my computer doesn’t recognize my iPhone?

First, check your USB cable and try a different port. If that doesn’t work, update your iTunes or macOS, restart your computer and iPhone, and try again.

If your computer still doesn’t recognize your iPhone, contact Apple Support for further assistance.


  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. Open iTunes or Finder.
  3. Select your iPhone.
  4. Create a backup.
  5. Locate the backup file on your computer.
  6. Transfer the backup to your external drive.


Backing up your iPhone to an external drive is a straightforward process that can provide you with peace of mind. With your data securely stored, you won’t have to worry about losing precious memories or vital information. Remember, technology can be unpredictable, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So why not take a few minutes to backup your iPhone today? Your future self will thank you. If you ever find yourself in a pickle, wondering how to backup iPhone to external drive, just revisit these steps, and you’ll be sorted in no time.

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