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How to Backup iPhone to External Hard Drive on Windows and Mac

Usually while you back up iPhone through iTunes on Windows or Mac, the backup file will be automatically saved in default location on the limited disk space. In order to release the disk space the backup files occupy, you can backup iPhone to external hard drive instead.

This post will tell you how to backup iPhone to external hard drive, such as USB flash drive without software on Windows and Mac.

Before manually backup iPhone to external hard drive, please make a copy of original backups that have been ever saved on the default backup location. And then delete this folder "Backup".

delete backup folder from default itunes backup location

Part 1: How to backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows


1. Format USB flash drive to Windows NT file system (NTFS)
2. Create a new folder called "iPhoneBackup" in the root of USB flash drive

Step 1: Change iPhone backup location with Command Prompt

You just need to simply create a symbolic (virtual) link in Windows, to a folder on your external hard drive. Connect prepared USB flash drive to Windows computer. If a mklink symlink creation error appears, see how to fix it at first.

1. Close iTunes and run Command Prompt as administrator on Windows computer.

2. Type following command lines and press Enter.

mklink /J "C:\Users\isunshare\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "H:\iPhoneBackup"

change iphone backup location on windows computer


  1. Default iPhone backup location: C:\Users\isunshare\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup
  2. New backup location for iPhone later: H:\iPhoneBackup

3. Instantly you will see there is a new folder called "Backup" created with an arrow on it in the default iPhone backup location.

successfully change itunes backup location to external hard drive

Step 2: Back up iPhone in iTunes to USB flash drive on Windows

Connect your iPhone to Windows computer, and open iTunes. When iPhone is checked by iTunes, click on its icon and tap on Back Up Now to wait for backing iPhone to connected USB flash drive.

back up iphone in itunes

As long as you don’t cancel the Mklink routing to the external drive with command below, the iTunes backup will be stored on external drive from then on.

mklink /J "C:\Users\yourWindowsusername\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "C:\Users\yourWindowsusername\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup"

successfully backup iphone to external hard drive


Part 2: How to backup iPhone to external drive on Mac

1. Connect your USB flash drive to Mac.

2. Format USB flash drive in MS-DOS (FAT) on Mac.

While you find USB flash drive is read-only on Mac, please run Disk Utility to erase it with format MS-DOS (FAT). It will allow you to read and write files in USB flash drive on Mac.

3. Create a new folder iPhoneBackup in the root of USB flash drive.

4. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities and choose Terminal to run on Mac.

5. Type following commands to tell iTunes the new locations of your iPhone backups.

ln –s /Volumes/External/iPhoneBackup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync

change iphone backup location to external drive on mac


Make sure you have deleted the Backup folder from ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync before running Terminal. "External" means the name of your external drive. Then the process of backing up iPhone to external drive on Mac is similar to descriptions on Windows.

How can you copy file or folder path in Mac OS X?

Right click the target file or folder, press and hold on Option key, then choose Copy "xxx" as Pathname from context menu. Paste it on a text and you can get the file or folder path. It is better for you to directly paste the folder path in Terminal than typing path manually.


This is an effective tutorial of backing up iPhone to external hard drive on Windows and Mac computer. It is also a useful guide for you to change iTunes backup location, save and move iPhone backup to external drive without any software.


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