Backup iPhone to External Hard Drive on Windows 11/10

When you need to backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows 11/10, find ways in this article! You can easily copy iPhone backup with or without iTunes to make it.


By Dylan / Updated on March 6, 2024

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How to backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows 11.

My iPhone needs to be backed up now, and I would like to save the backup files to my Seagate external hard drive. I have an iPhone X and a Dell PC running Windows 11. Thanks for any help.

- Question from iPhone user

The security of iPhone data is still a concern because of the possibility of data loss involving important content such as photos, videos, contacts, and messages. Protecting against these potential hazards requires proactively creating iPhone backups. Probably to save PC storage, you will want to backup iPhone to external hard drive.

In addition, having an iPhone backup can also help when you get a new iPhone. You can easily restore iPhone Backup to your iPhone to perform iPhone data migration.

Next, you can refer to the following part, we will walk you through how to create an iPhone backup on your external hard drive.

backup iphone to external hard drive

Here we provide 2 tools to move iPhone data to an external hard drive on Windows 11/10 computer or laptop. You can either iTunes or powerful backup software- FoneTool.

Method 1 - iTunes is suitable for those who know how to use command lines. Because iTunes saves a backup on the C drive of a PC by default, you need to change the path using Command Prompts.

Method 2 - FoneTool can be the best choice for most users. It comes with an intuitive (GUI) interface, so everyone can easily complete the backup operation. 

Method 1. Copy iPhone to external hard drive with iTunes

iTunes is a strict software. You can just make a full backup of iPhone (some local data in apps and all the settings) and you can’t view what’s inside of it, but you can have an overview of what iTunes backup includes.

Changing iTunes backup location is a little complicated. There are no options in iTunes to do that, so you can only use Windows CMD to force iTunes to save iPhone backup to another partition. If you just need the pictures, it will be very easy to backup iPhone photos to external hard drive in Windows 10/11.

Step 1. Download iTunes to your Windows PC.

download itunes

Step 2. Connect iPhone to the computer with a USB cable and plug the external hard drive into the computer. Now you can change iTunes backup location to external hard drive.

Step 3. Open Windows File Explorer and then go to C:\Users\[PC name]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\ MobileSync. That's the default location where iTunes saves your iPhone backup on computer.

Step 4. Delete the content in the folder Backup and then create an empty folder called MobileSync in your external drive.

backup using itunes

Step 5. Press Win + R and input “cmd” in the box. Press enter to open Windows Command Processor.

Step 6. In the window, enter mklink /J “C:\Users\[PC name]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “E:\MobileSync” and press Enter. You should be aware whether E is the drive letter of your external drive, or you need to modify the command. If it runs successfully, go to the next step.

CMD Change iTunes Backup Location

If you don’t see AppData, it is hidden. You should navigate to View at the top of the toolbar in Windows Explorer and check Hidden items.

Step 7. Launch iTunes and connect your iPhone to computer. Remember to tap Trust This iPhone to allow this computer to scan it.

Step 8. Click the phone-shape icon in the upper left corner > Summary > Back Up Now. It could take several minutes to complete the task.


After the task is finished, you need to check whether you have moved iTunes backup to external hard drive. In fact, you could find the iPhone backup both in C:\Users\[PC name]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\ MobileSync and your external destination, but then it is actually stored in your external hard drive and doesn’t use the space of C Drive.

Method 2. Backup iPhone to external hard drive without iTunes for free (GUI interface)

iTunes is working, but if you are not familiar with Command Prompt, it may be not suitable for you. Besides, iTunes can't selectively backup iPhone data.

To most users,  a professional backup software named FoneTool can help. It can be the best way to backup an iPhone directly to an external hard drive on Windows 11/10 PC. With its intuitive interface,  you can move your iPhone to an HDD, SSD, USB drive without command prompts. Just a few clicks, anyone can easily complete an iPhone backup.

Besides, it comes with various advantages, like

★Main advantages of FoneTool
Full and Selective backup: You can choose one file type and one or several files to backup. For instance, you can only backup iPhone photo library to external drive or backup everything on iPhone to an external drive.
Fast speed: Compared with other tools, like iTunes, iCloud, FoneTool can help you to process a backup in a very short time.
Widely Compatible: FoneTool supports iPhone 15/14/13/12/11 Pro/SE 2022/2020 and previous iOS devices. And it supports all brands of storage devices. You can back up your iPhone to Seagate, WD, Samsung, etc. hard drive.
Easy view and management: FoneTool offers logical data management. You can easily locate, delete, and restore your backups.
Universal Restore: You can also restore your iPhone backup to other iOS devices without any Apple ID limitation. 

Download FoneTool to computer, plug your external hard drive into computer, and connect iPhone to computer with a USB cable. We will guide you on how to copy iPhone backup to external drive on Windows 10/11 including photos, videos, contacts, music, and other data with FoneTool.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Here we separately introduce the Full Backup and Selective Backup features of FoneTool to help you backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows 11/10.

1. Fully backup iPhone to an external drive

Step 1. Run FoneTool on your computer, and click Phone Backup on the left interface. Go to Full Backup > Click Get Started to continue.

full backup

Step 2. Click Backup Storage Path to choose your external hard drive as the backup location. If you need, you can enable the backup encryption. Then click Start Backup.

start backup

2. Selectively backup iPhone to external hard drive

Step 1. Select Phone Backup on the FoneTool interface, and choose Selective Backup. Click "Get Started".

Custom Backup iPhone

✍Note: You can also go to Phone Transfer > Choose iPhone to PC to transfer photos, videos, contacts and music from iPhone to computer/external hard drive.

Step 2. Click each icon to preview iPhone data. Select what you need and click OK.

Select iPhone Data

Step 3. Click the Backup Storage Path to change iPhone backup location to external hard drive on Windows 10/11 and then click Start Backup to copy everything you have selected to external drive. In this step, you could backup iPhone to NAS or network drive if you have mapped it into a local drive.

Change Path

Tip: To restore the backup, you can enter My Backups and click the Restore dot to finish the process. With restoring full backup, you can transfer everything from your iPhone to an external hard drive.

Restore to Device

Further reading: How to backup iPhone to external hard drive using Mac

If you are using a Macbook, you can refer to this part to backup iPhone to USB drive / external storage device on macOS. 

Mac Finder can help you create an iPhone backup on Macbook. If you want to backup to external drive, you need to change iPhone backup location. Here are the steps.

Backup iPhone to external hard drive using Macbook

1. First, add terminal utility to your Mac: Click Apple icon on your Mac > Choose System Preferences. >Security & Privacy > Choose Privacy tab > Click the lock icon to make the change > Choose Full Disk Access and click Plus > Find the Terminal and choose it.

2. Connect your external disk to Mac. Run Terminal, and type this code:

ln -s /Volumes/**your external hard drive name**/ios_backup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup/

3. Exit Terminal.

4. Now connect your iPhone to the Mac. Run Finder. Choose your iPhone on the left side. Tick "Back up all the data on your iPhone to this Mac", and click "Back Up Now".

Move iPhone backup to external hard drive

If you have backed up your iPhone to Mac, you can move the backup to external drive by following the steps below.

1. Open Finder on your Macbook, and open Backup folder.

2. Drag the iPhone backup you need to the external hard drive. Click OK to confirm. You can find the external hard drive under Locations in the Finder sidebar.

move backup to external hard drive

3. Enter the admin password if it asks. And wait for the transfer process completed. 


Storage shortage on computer might drive you to backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows 11/10, and saving the backup files to external drive makes them safer and easier to use. These 2 methods can be also applied for backing up files from iPad to external drive.

FoneTool is the most convenient iPhone backup software to backup or move iOS/iPhone files to an external hard drive on Windows 10 computer. It supports all the popular external hard drives and exports what you want with one click. You can also change iTunes backup location but it is a little complicated.

FAQs about backup iPhone to external hard drive

Can I directly move iPhone backup to external hard drive without computer?
Yes, you can. If you want to directly back up iPhone to external hard drive, you can connect your external hard drive to your iPhone via a USB-to-lighting adapter. But it is recommended only when you backup certain files like several photos and videos. It is inappropriate to back up most iPhone data.
Here is how to directly save iPhone backup to external hard drive with computer:
Step 1. Connect an external hard drive to your iPhone via a USB-to-lighting adapter.
Step 2.  Go to your photos, videos, messages, files, etc. you want to backup and select.
Step 3.  Choose share.
Step 4.  Select the external hard drive and tap save. 
How can I move iPhone backup to external hard drive?
You may already have an iPhone backup and want to move the backup to your external storage. Just follow the steps below.
►How to move iPhone (iTunes) backup to external hard drive on Windows
Step 1. Connect your external hard drive to your Windows PC.
Step 2. Find the iTunes backup on File Explorer. The iTunes backup will be located at  "C:\Users\user\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" by default.
Step 3. Copy the backup and paste it to your external hard dive.
►How to move iPhone (Finder) backup to external hard drive on Mac
Step 1. After connecting the external drive to your Macbook, run Finder and tap the device.
Step 2. Click "Manage Backups..." and right-click on the backup you want to move.
Step 3. Click "Show in Finder". Then copy the backup to the external hard drive. 
Can I only backup photos library to external hard drive?
Yes, you can. FoneTool is one of the best iPhone backup software for PC that provides the Selective Backup features allowing you to only backup the photos. And you can select specific items to backup. You can choose "Phone Backup" on the FoneTool > Choose "Selective Backup" > Select photos > Choose the external hard drive as the backup location. And click "Start Backup".
Can you backup iPhone to external hard drive without computer?
If you don't have or don't want to use a computer, it is still possible to backup your iPhone to an external hard drive. And you need to prepare a USB-C connector or Apple's Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.
Step 1. Attach the adapter to the Lightning port on your iPhone> Connect the external hard drive to the USB port on the adapter.
Step 2. Navigate to your iPhone and select the photos, videos, or other documents you wish to move to your external hard drive. Next, tap the Share icon located in the lower-left corner.
Step 3. Opt for your external hard drive as the destination and tap Save. Your files will then be copied to the external hard drive.