How to Backup iPhone to Flash Drive or Thumb Drive: 3 Ways

Want to know how to backup iPhone to flash drive, thumb drive, or external hard drive? Read this guide to get 3 methods to make it.


By Lena / Updated on April 8, 2024

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How to back up iPhone to external USB drive.

How do I backup my iPhone 15 to an external USB hard drive?

- Question from Apple Community

Why Do You Want to Backup iPhone to USB Drive?

It’s a good habit to back up iPhone regularly. In this case, you can always have a way to retrieve the lost data as soon as possible. Besides, if you have a backup for your iPhone, you can delete some old data freely to spare more space to store photos, songs, or run interesting games and apps. And because of the following reasons, you want to backup iPhone to flash drive:

● There is no enough storage space on computer to store the whole iPhone backup.
● You may want to store a copy of the iPhone backup on flash drive in case you lose the backup because of computer crashes.
● Or you may want to move the iPhone backup from old computer to new computer through the flash drive.

All in all, it’s a good choice to back iPhone to USB Flash Drive. You can carry the flash drive with you so that you can restore the backup copy to your device anytime and anywhere. The following part will introduce two methods to help you achieve the goal. You can also follow the methods to backup iPhone to thumb drive, jump drive or external hard drive.

Actually, there is no direct way to backup iPhone to USB flash drive via iTunes. Here we provide 3 free tools to let you know how to backup iPhone to flash drive/USB drive on Windows or Mac.

Tools Convenience Difficulty
FoneTool High - It helps to solve how to safely back up iPhone to Flash Drive or back up specific files of your choice on PC. Super Easy  
iTunes Moderate - It helps to back up part of the data on an iPhone to Flash Drive on PC & Mac. Moderate
Finder Moderate - It allows you to back up entire or part of iPhone data to USB drive on Mac. Moderate
enlightened Note: If you need to back up iPhone to flash drive without computer, just go to this Backup iPhone to External Hard Drive Without Comouter guide to make it.

Method 1. How to Backup iPhone to USB with a Professional Tool (PC)

FoneTool is a free iPhone backup tool for Windows PCs, with its powerful features, you can easily back up your iPhone data as you like.

yes You can choose to make a selective or full backup to back up your iPhone data.
yes You can flexibly change the storage location to back up iPhone data to computer, USB drive or other external storage device.
yes Fast backup speed allows you to easily finish the backup process.
yes Its wide compatibility supports all iPhone models including the latest ones.

Get the tool and follow the steps below to see how to backup iPhone to flash drive. You can go to Option 1 to fully back up your iPhone or go to Option 2 to selectively back up your iPhone.

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

Option 1. Fully back up iPhone to Flash Drive

Step 1. Connect your iPhone and Flash Drive to PC.

Step 2. Click Phone Backup > Full Backup and click Get Started.

Full Backup

Step 3. Enable backup encryption and choose the USB flash drive storage path.

Backup Encryption

Step 4. Click Start Backup to back up your iphone to external hard drive.

Start Backup

Step 5. You can go to My Backups to check the backup task and restore the backup files.

Backup Completed

Option 2. Selectively Backup iPhone to USB Flash Drive with FoneTool

★ Check Backup Files Any Time – It allows you to view the backup files anytime you want.
★ Flexible Restore – It enables you to restore selected backup files to any iPhone, iPad, iPod.
★ No Data Loss During Restore – It will not erase any existing data on the device.
★ Supports Files – Contacts, messages, photos, music and videos.

Step 1. Download and launch FoneTool > Connect your iPhone to computer via USB cable.

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

Step 2. Go to Phone Backup > Choose Selective Backup and then you can select the data you want to backup.

Back Up All

Step 3. You can click each icon to preview and select the items. For example, click the Contacts icon to view and select the contacts you want to backup > Click OK to continue.

Preview and Select Contacts

Step 4. Select your flash drive as the storage path > Click the Start Backup button to make it.

Start Backup

enlightened Note: With this powerful tool, you can also transfer photos from iPhone to USB.

📍 Video Tutorial:

Method 2. Backup iPhone to Flash Drive with iTunes (PC and Mac)

You can first make a backup via iTunes on computer > find the iTunes backup > copy the backup files from computer hard drive to flash drive.

Backup iPhone via iTunes

1. Download and install the latest version of iTunes on computer.

2. Connect the source iPhone to computer via the USB cable.

3. Click the Device tab > Select This Computer > Click Back Up Now to start the backup.

Find and Move iTunes Backup to Flash Drive

For Mac (macOS Mojave and earlier versions) :

→ Find the list of your backups: Click the Search icon > Copy and paste this: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ > Press Return.

→ Find a specific backup: Open iTunes > Click iTunes in the menu bar to choose Preferences> Click Devices > Control-click the backup to choose Show in Finder.

Show Backup in Finder

For Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10 PC:

\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

iTunes Backup Location Windows

For Windows XP PC:

\Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\


If you don’t see AppData, it is hidden and you can make it show hidden files. For Windows 10/8: navigate to View at the top of the toolbar in Windows Explorer and check Hidden items. For Windows 7: Open Computer > Click Organize > Go to Folder and Search options > View > Select the option to Show hidden files, folders and drives.

Indeed you can copy the iTunes backup to USB flash drive. However, iTunes backup is not a perfect backup way.

● iTunes only helps you make a whole backup for your iPhone and you are not allowed to view the backup files after the backup. If you need to extract your iTunes backup, just go to this Free iTunes Backup Extractors Guide to get answers!
● When performing the restore, iTunes will first erase all existing data and then restore the whole backup files to the device.

So why not try another flexible way to better manage the iPhone backup? FoneTool is a great choice!

Method 3. Save iPhone Backup to USB Drive with Finder (Mac)

For macOS Catalina and later versions, you can use Finder to back up your iPhone to external hard drive.

Section 1. Back up iPhone on Mac

Step 1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac computer using a USB cable and authorize your iPhone to trust this computer.

Step 2. Open the Finder application.

Step 3. Locate and select your iPhone from the left sidebar in Finder.

Step 4. Click on the General tab in the toolbar and choose "Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac."

Step 5. Click "Back Up Now" to initiate the backup process.

use finder to back up

Section 2. Find the backup files on Mac

Step 1. Launch Finder and simultaneously press Shift + Command + G keys to open the "Go to Folder" window.

Step 2. Copy and paste the following path "~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/" (without quotes) into the field and press Return. This action will display all your iPhone backup files.

Section 3. Copy a specific backup to a USB flash drive

Step 1. On a Mac running macOS Catalina or later, open Finder and select your iPhone.

Step 2. Under the General tab, click "Manage Backups" to view a list of your backups.

Step 3. Highlight the desired backup version, right-click on it, and choose "Show in Finder."

show backup in finder

Now you can connect your USB flash drive to the Mac and follow these steps to transfer the backup:

Step 4. Copy the entire Backup folder or the specific backup file.

Step 5. Paste the copied items onto your USB flash drive.

It's important to note that you should avoid cutting iPhone backups from your Mac to an external flash drive, as this can cause issues when restoring an iPhone from the backup.


That’s all about how to backup iPhone to flash drive, thumb drive or external hard drive. You can move iTunes/Finder backup from computer to flash drive or you can try FoneTool to directly backup iPhone to USB flash drive. Which method do you prefer?