By Dylan / Last update June 9, 2023

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How to backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows 10

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 10. Thanks for any help.

- Question from iPhone user

iTunes Logo

When iPhone storage is going to be used up or there is important data on it, you need to backup iPhone to safely release iPhone storage and never lose the important iPhone data.

To give double insurance to your iPhone data you can move iPhone backup to external hard drive or flash drive. However, every time iTunes creates an iPhone backup, a folder of over 7GB will be saved to C drive so it is not a good long-term plan for backing up iPhone.

This is not the only disadvantage of iTunes, if you have ever used iTunes to import photos to iPhone, you would find that photos synced from iTunes will be removed when you use iCloud Photos.

To avoid your C drive being occupied, you can change iTunes backup location to external hard drive on Windows 10.

How to backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows 11/10/8/7

Here we provide 2 tools to move iPhone data to an external hard drive on Windows 10, 8, 7 computer or laptop. You can either iTunes or powerful backup software. But you may need to change the backup location if you want to backup with iTunes. And the steps would be completed.

Method 1. Backup 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 10/8/7/11.

Step 1. Download iTunes to your Windows PC.

Step 2. Connect iPhone to the computer with a USB cable and plug external hard drive into the computer.

Now 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.

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 your iPhone backup has been saved 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 (Easy way)

Method 1 is effective, but if you are not familiar with Command Prompt, it may be not suitable for you. Besides, When you restore an iPhone from an iTunes backup, it requires you to erase all data on the iPhone.

To avoid these issues, you can turn to FoneTool, which is professional iPhone backup software. It can be the best way to backup an iPhone to an external hard drive on Windows 11, 10, 8, 7 PC easily with its intuitive interface. You can move your iPhone to an HDD, SSD, USB drive within a few clicks.

● Support multiple file types: This tool can help you to backup photos, videos, messages, contacts, and other data to external hard drive on Windows PC.
● Fully and Selective backup: You can choose one file type and one or several files to backup. Or backup everything on iPhone to 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 14/13/12/11 Pro/SE 2022/2020 and previous iOS devices. You can easily move all your iOS files to an external drive or any location on your computer.

Download FoneTool to computer, plug your external hard drive into computer, connect iPhone to computer with a USB cable. We will guide you on how to backup iPhone photos, videos, contacts, music, and other data to external hard drive in Windows 11/10/8/7 computer.

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.

Fully backup iPhone to an external drive

Step 1. Run FoneTool on your computer, and click Phone Backup on the left interface. Click Full Backup.

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

Selective 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 click the "Transfer to Computer" option to transfer photos, videos, contacts, music from iPhone to computer/external hard drive.

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

Select iPhone Data

Step 3. Click the Backup Storage Path change iPhone backup location to external hard drive on Windows 10 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

Tips: To restore backup, you can enter Backup History and click 3-dot icon > "Restore".

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 your 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, 8, 7, and save the backup files to external drive makes them safer and easy 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 export what you want with one click. You can also change iTunes backup location but it is a little complicated.

FoneTool Runs Perfectly on

iOS Versions
  • iOS 16/15/14/13/12/11 and former
  • iPadOS 16/15/14/13/12/11 and former
iOS Devices
  • iPhone 14/14 Pro (Max), 13/13 mini/Pro (Max), iPhone 12/12 mini/Pro (Max), iPhone 11/11 Pro (Max)
  • iPhone X/XR/XS/XS Max, iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone 7/7 Plus, iPhone 6/6s/6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st, 2nd, 3rd generations)
  • iPod touch 1/2/3/4/5/6/7
  • All models of iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPad