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How to backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows?

How to backup iPhone to external hard drive on Windows?

If you are low on space, then one of the many ideas to free up space, is to store (or move) your iPhone backups to an external hard drive on Windows. Here's how to do it!

Are you an iPhone user and you are using Windows 11 (or Windows 10)? If you have lots of stuff in your iPhone, space on Windows will run low pretty fast, given that the iTunes backup includes photos, videos, apps etc.

However, Apple still hasn't made it possible yet to store an iPhone backup to an external hard drive. Well, in this guide, I am going to show you how to store all your iPhone backups on your external hard drive and also, backup your iPhone to your external hard drive automatically!

What do I need to have before getting started?

  • Your Windows computer.
  • An external hard drive or any other external storage device (e.g. USB stick, SD Card etc) with enough storage.
  • An iPhone charging cable.

If you don't have an external storage device in your hands and you are looking to purchase a new one for this purpose, then I have created another article where I explain the best external hard drives options and how to read the specs of each external hard drive here:

Can I backup iPhone to an external hard drive on Windows 11?

Yes. Whether you are using Windows 11, 10 or 8.1, the process will still be the same. Given that Windows 11 has a few changes in the interface, some buttons may be indicated as icons instead of words. Other than that, everything else is the same.

How to backup iPhone to an external hard drive?

Initially, we need to check the capacity of your iPhone and how much of it do you consume already.

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > About.
  • Check the total capacity and how much space you have left.

This will give you an idea on how much space you will need to have available on your external hard drive. For instance, in my case, my iPhone capacity is 256GB and I have available 155GB. This means that the backup should occupy about 100GB. Given that Apple is compressing the backup to occupy less space, it should only occupy about 70GB. However, I would encourage you to have double or triple amount of GB available (in my case, about 210GB), in order for the backups to be done to avoid any potential errors.

Furthermore, if you are considering to update your current external hard drive, I would also like to recommend you my top option:

Crucial 1TB SSD [MX500]

Crucial 1TB SSD [MX500]

Size: 250/500 GB 1/2/4TB
Read Speed: 560 Mbps
Write Speed: 510 Mbps
Buy it from Amazon
Reasons to buy
+Cheaper than other competitors+High reading and writing speeds+Good for almost every purpose
Reasons to avoid
-Needs a SATA to USB cable to connect externally

I've been this for about 3 years now and I didn't have a single problem since. I use this SSD for automatic backups, gaming, and even running Windows 11 externally!

How to show hidden files on Windows?

Usually, the folder where iTunes is storing the backups will be hidden. To unhide it, we need to tell Windows to show us all the hidden files and directories.

How to show hidden files on Windows 10

  • Open File Explorer.
  • Expand the Menu bar if it's not expanded by clicking on the ^ button at the upper right portion of the window.
  • Click on the View tab.
  • Check the "Hidden items" checkbox.

How to show hidden files on Windows 11

  • Open File Explorer.
  • Click on View, then Show and click on Hidden Items.

Now you should see hidden directories and files on every folder you are visiting. Hidden items should appear with a dimmer color to be easier to distinguish.

Where is iTunes storing iPhone backups on Windows?

This depends on where you have downloaded iTunes from.

If you have downloaded iTunes from the Microsoft Store:

  • Go to File Explorer and then go to "This PC".
  • Follow this path: Local Disk > Users > [YOUR USERNAME] > Apple > MobileSync > Backup.

If you have downloaded iTunes from the web:

  • Go to File Explorer and then go to "This PC".
  • Follow this path: Local Disk > Users > [YOUR USERNAME] > AppData > Roaming > Apple Computer > MobileSync > Backup.

In my case, the username is "georg" (yes, I forgot the "e" at the end). So the paths for me are the following:

  • iTunes downloaded from the MS store: C:\Users\georg\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup.
  • iTunes downloaded from the Web: C:\Users\georg\Apple\MobileSync\Backup.

Once you locate the Backup folder, don't quit the File explorer window and keep a note of the path. Keep it and open a new window by either searching for "This PC", or by right clicking on the File Explorer icon on the bottom menu bar and choose "New Window" or "File Explorer".

Move the iPhone backups to the external hard drive

Now is the perfect time to connect your external hard drive (or USB stick) to your computer. Now we need to create a folder on our external hard drive "MobileSync" and copy paste the Backup folder within the new "MobileSync" we have created on the external hard drive.

  • From the new File Explorer window, go to "This PC" and double click on your external hard drive.
  • Create a new folder in your external hard drive and name it as "MobileSync".
  • Go back to the other File Explorer window and copy the Backup folder by clicking once on the folder and then, press the ctrl + C keys at the same time from your keyboard.
  • Go to the new MobileSync folder you have just created on your external hard drive and paste the backup folder by pressing the ctrl + V keys.
  • Go back to the other File Explorer window where you copied the Backup folder. Right click on it and click on cut (or the scissors button).

Now you should have copied your backup folder to your external hard drive and cut the one on your computer.

Backup iPhone to external hard drive

As the final step, all we need to do, is to link the Backup folder from your computer to the pasted backup folder on your external hard drive.

  • Click on Start (windows icon bottom left) and type "command prompt" and launch it.
  • Type the following command:
    • If iTunes is downloaded from the MS Store: MkLink /J "C:\Users\Your User Name\Apple\MobileSync\Backup" "E:\MobileSync\Backup".
    • If iTunes is downloaded from the Web: MkLink /J "C:\Users\Your User Name\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "E:\MobileSync\Backup"
  • Hit enter to run the command.

Please, keep in mind that the letters at the beginning of each path may be different. To avoid this issue, be sure to include the correct letters, so the first path between the quotes (" ") indicates the path to the Backup folder in your computer and the second path, indicates the path to your Backup folder in your external hard drive. Hence, sure the letters correspond to your Local drive and external hard drive respectively.


Awesome! Now every future backup will be done and stored on your external hard drive! Now why not go and give it a shot? Launch iTunes, connect your iPhone and back it up on your computer. Now the latest backup should be stored on your external hard drive. 

Please, do let me know if you have any questions. I understand this guide may contain some technical information, but if you have any questions or you find some of the steps difficult to follow, please do let me know and I will do my best to fix it!

In the meantime, I hope you stay safe and healthy!

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George K.

Admin of TechLunar

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