How to Copy Your iPhone Backups to an External Hard Drive

If you are someone who clicks many photos and stores documents and files on your iPhone, you can also keep multiple backups of your iPhone on the Mac. Since these backups are large in size and Macs have limited storage space, you may want to transfer them to external storage. This will not only free up space on your Mac, but also help you manage backups from different devices to multiple locations for security purposes.

In this article, we will tell you how to copy iPhone backup from Mac to external hard drive.

Can you back up your iPhone directly to an external hard drive?

No. macOS only allows you to back up your iPhone content to local storage on your Mac. There is no option to save these backups directly to an external hard drive, but you can move existing backups from your Mac to your external storage at any time. Moving backups to external storage will help free up space on your Mac for future backups and other files. This way, you can store a bunch of backups of your iPhone and use them to restore your device to any of its previous states.

Related: How to Backup iPhone on Mac

How to Copy Your iPhone Backups to an External Hard Drive

Although macOS doesn’t give you the option to create backups of your iPhone directly to an external hard drive, you can still copy the backups you’ve already created on your Mac and move them to another hard drive. The process involves connecting your iPhone wirelessly via Wi-Fi, finding the iPhone backup on your Mac, and then seamlessly transferring the data to an external hard drive.

If you haven’t created a backup of your iPhone yet, the post we’ve linked below should help you get started.

▶ How to Backup iPhone on Mac

Step 1: Pair your iPhone to Mac wirelessly

Before you can find your iPhone backup, you need to connect your iPhone to the Mac so you can locate its backup location. Although the easiest way to connect your iPhone to the Mac is via a wired connection, you may want to make it more convenient by letting both devices stay connected on the same Wi-Fi network. We have a dedicated article (10 ways to pair your iPhone with Macbook) on the same, so you can follow method #2 to connect your iPhone to Mac wirelessly.

To briefly explain the steps, you can establish a wireless connection between your iPhone and your Mac by first connecting them with a Lightning to USB cable and then opening the Searcher application.

In the Finder, select your iPhone in the left sidebar and check the Show This iPhone When On Wi-Fi box inside the General tab then click Apply.

When you do this, your iPhone will show up in the Finder app even when it’s not connected to the USB cable as long as both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

Step 2: Locate iPhone backup on your Mac

Once you have connected your iPhone to the Mac via Wi-Fi, you can now find where your iPhone backups are saved. To do this, open the Searcher app on macOS.

In the Finder, click your iPhone in the left sidebar under “Places”.

When the selected iPhone loads on the screen, click Manage backups under the General tab.

You’ll see a list of iPhone backups you’ve created on your Mac in the Device Backups box.

To locate the location of a backup, right click on it and select Show in Finder.

A new Finder window will open showing the selected backup folder highlighted among other backups. You must keep this window open to copy content to external storage.

Step 3: Move backup to external hard drive

Once you’ve located your iPhone backup on the Mac, moving it is as easy as copying and pasting the contents from one device to another. First, connect your external hard drive to the Mac using the supplied cable. When the storage device is connected, open it in Searcher and navigate to the location where you want to move the iPhone backup inside.

Now, in the Finder window where your iPhone backup is stored, select any number of backups available in the backup folder on your Mac.

Once selected, drag the selected contents from this folder to the desired location in your external hard drive window.

Your iPhone backups will now be copied to the external storage device and you can use it in the future to restore your iPhone to a previous state.

How to Delete iPhone Backups from Mac

If you copied your iPhone backup to external storage, you might not need to keep it on your Mac anymore. By erasing it, you can not only save storage space for other files, but also create more backups on your iPhone. To erase your iPhone backups from the Mac, open the Searcher app on macOS and locate your iPhone in the left sidebar under “Places”.

When your iPhone loads in Finder, click Manage backups inside of General tab.

You will see all of your existing iPhone backups in the Device Backups dialog box. Here, right-click on the backup you want to delete from your Mac and click on Delete backup.

In the prompt that appears, confirm your decision by clicking Wipe off.

The selected iPhone backup will now be deleted from your Mac. Since you saved a copy of it on your external hard drive, you can move its contents to the backup folder on your Mac to restore it.

How to Move iPhone Backup from External Hard Drive to Mac

If you want to restore your iPhone to an earlier state using a backup that you copied to an external hard drive, the Finder app does not allow you to restore it directly from external storage. Instead, you need to transfer the backup to its original location on your Mac and then perform the restore.

To move an iPhone backup from external storage to your Mac, reconnect the hard drive to your Mac and locate the backup you copied from the Mac before.

Once located, move the backup from the external store to this location on your Mac – ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ by dragging and dropping the backup folder.

If done successfully, the backup should appear in the Finder app when you access your iPhone from the Mac.

That’s all you need to know about copying your iPhone backups to external storage.


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Steven L. Nielsen