How to backup iPhone to external hard drive: A step-by-step guide.

Backing up your iPhone to an external hard drive is an excellent way to ensure your data is safe, should anything happen to your phone or iCloud account. The process involves connecting your iPhone to a computer, using iTunes or Finder to create a backup on the computer, and then transferring that backup to an external hard drive. It’s a straightforward process that can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

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

Before starting the backup process, make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed on your computer if you’re using a PC or MacOS Mojave or earlier. For MacOS Catalina or later, you’ll use Finder. Also, ensure your external hard drive is connected to your computer and properly formatted.

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer

Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable.

When you connect your iPhone to your computer, you might see a message asking for your device passcode or to "Trust This Computer." Follow the onscreen steps. If you’ve connected your iPhone to your computer before, it should connect automatically.

Step 2: Open iTunes or Finder

On a PC, or a Mac running MacOS Mojave or earlier, open iTunes. On a Mac running MacOS Catalina or later, open Finder.

iTunes or Finder is where you’ll be able to see your iPhone’s details and create a backup. Make sure you are in the "Devices" section where your iPhone should be listed.

Step 3: Select your iPhone

Click on your iPhone when it appears in iTunes or Finder.

Selecting your iPhone will take you to the summary page, where you can see all the details of your device and the options for backing up.

Step 4: Start the backup process

In iTunes, click "Back Up Now" under the "Manually Back Up and Restore" section. In Finder, click "Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac."

This action will start creating a backup of your iPhone’s data on your computer. Depending on how much data you have, it could take a few minutes to several hours.

Step 5: Locate the backup on your computer

On a PC, you’ll find the backup in Users[username]AppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup. On a Mac, go to Users[username]LibraryApplication SupportMobileSyncBackup.

Keep in mind you might need to enable hidden folders to see these directories. The backup will be in a folder with a long name of random numbers and letters.

Step 6: Copy the backup to your external hard drive

Drag the backup folder to your external hard drive in the Finder or File Explorer window.

Make sure you’ve selected the correct backup folder—transferring the wrong folder could mean you don’t back up the right data.

Once the transfer is complete, you’ll have successfully backed up your iPhone to your external hard drive. This means your data is now stored in two places: your computer and your external drive, which gives you an extra layer of security.

Tips: How to Backup iPhone to External Hard Drive

  • Ensure your external hard drive has enough space to store your iPhone backup.
  • Encrypt your backup by selecting "Encrypt iPhone backup" in iTunes or Finder for extra security.
  • Label your backup clearly on your external hard drive so you can easily find it later.
  • Regularly update your backup, especially before updating iOS or making significant changes to your iPhone.
  • Keep your external hard drive in a safe place to prevent physical damage or loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I backup my iPhone directly to an external hard drive without using a computer?

No, you cannot backup your iPhone directly to an external hard drive. You need to use a computer as an intermediary.

Backing up directly to an external hard drive is not supported by iOS. Your computer serves as the bridge between your iPhone and the external hard drive.

How often should I backup my iPhone?

It’s a good idea to backup your iPhone regularly, such as once a week, or before any significant updates or changes.

Regular backups ensure that you have the most up-to-date version of your data secured. The frequency can vary depending on how often you add new data to your device.

What should I do if I can’t find the backup folder on my computer?

Make sure you have enabled hidden folders. If you still can’t find it, search for "Backup" in the search bar.

Sometimes the backup folder is not immediately visible because it’s in a hidden directory. Ensuring hidden folders are visible or using the search function should help you locate it.

Can I use any external hard drive to backup my iPhone?

Yes, as long as the external hard drive is formatted correctly (FAT32 or exFAT for Windows, HFS+ or APFS for Mac) and has enough space.

The external hard drive must be compatible with your computer’s operating system and have sufficient space for the iPhone backup.

What happens if I disconnect my iPhone during the backup process?

If you disconnect your iPhone before the backup is complete, it may corrupt the backup file and you’ll need to start the process again.

To avoid any issues, ensure that your iPhone stays connected until the backup process is fully completed.


  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. Open iTunes or Finder.
  3. Select your iPhone.
  4. Start the backup process.
  5. Locate the backup on your computer.
  6. Copy the backup to your external hard drive.


Backing up your iPhone to an external hard drive is a smart move for anyone who values their data. Whether it’s precious photos, important contacts, or critical documents, having a backup on an external hard drive gives you peace of mind. It takes just a few steps to secure your data, and with the tips provided, you can ensure your backup is safe and easily accessible when you need it. Remember, technology can be unforeseen, and having a backup can save you from the distress of losing your valuable information. So, why not take the time to backup your iPhone to an external hard drive today? It could be the wisest decision you make for your digital life.