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How to Back Up iPhone 6s (Plus) to External Hard Drive

Blake Sullivan Updated on Apr 15, 2022 3:25 PM

Maybe you've backed up your iPhone 6s (Plus) data as well as all of other digital documents on your computer over the years. Or, maybe you don't have enough space on your computer's hard drive, in particular on a MacBook with small storage capacity you would quickly run out of the storage on it. If you want a way to free up precious space, you're in luck — if you carry an external hard drive in your hand luggage, that is. You can back up your iPhone 6s (Plus) on an external hard drive to move the backup off your computer.

The idea of backing up iPhone 6s (Plus) on a portable external hard drive can seem intimidating, but we're going to show you the steps in detail to follow to do that. The first method uses Apple's software, and another utilizes a straightforward third-party tool.

Back up iPhone 6s (Plus) to an external hard drive using iTunes or Finder

iTunes or Finder is a generally reliable platform that assists you to move the backup of iPhone 6s (Plus) over to the external hard drive when the file size is too large to back up to your internal drive. Even though this is not an Apple recommended method, you can still carry out this task if you insist on using external hard drive.

Copy the backup to the external hard drive

This step is pretty simple. However, such move is possible only if you know where your backups are located. To find your backup location:

  • Launch iTunes/Finder.
  • Hit "Command+Shift+G" to open "Go To Folder" in Finder.
  • Type ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ into Spotlight at the upper right of window (in iTunes); copy and paste ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ to the pop-up dialog (in Finder).
  • Click Return (in iTunes); Hit Go (in Finder).

To find backups stored on Windows 7, 8, 10, go to \Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\.

Now you can either copy or drag the backup of iPhone 6s (Plus) to an external hard drive. Before proceeding with the process, you need to make a catchy name for your external HDD (e.g.: ExternalHD) and the new folder on that drive, like "iPhoneBackup".

  • Take out your external hard drive, and connect it to your computer.
  • Launch the external hard drive.
  • Create a folder in the root of the external drive named "iPhoneBackup" (or whatever you want).
  • Go back to iTunes or Finder window, and highlight the folder you want to move and copy it by pressing "Cmd + C".
  • Open the "iPhoneBackup" folder on your external drive and hit "Cmd + V" to paste the backup.

There's also a catch, though: if you don't copy the entire folder to your external hard drive, the file would get ruined.

  • Rename the current backup folder in iTunes or Finder to "oldbackup" (just to be safe).

Create a Symlink for iTunes/ Finder

Now you've come to a tricky part, create a new path - a symbolic link to let iTunes or Finder know to back contents up from iPhone 6s (Plus) to the external hard drive in future.

Note that before you start you have to modify the permissions for the Terminal on your Mac if you're running macOS Mojave. Just head over System Preference > Security & Privacy > Privacy. Click "Full Disk Access" and then select "+" button to add Terminal to the list of apps that are granted to control the computer. After that, use Terminal to make a new destination for your backup.

  • Launch Terminal.
  • Type the command ln -s /Volumes/ExternalHD/iPhoneBackup/Backup/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup/4f1234a05e6e7ccbaddfd12345678f1234b123f

Tip: That command is customizable. For example, you can change the folder name on the external drive to the drive name (here ExternalHD) and folder name (here iPhoneBackup) that you created. But if there are spaces in the name, like "iPhone Backup" you should add backslash between "iPhone" and "Backup", like this: "iPhone \ Backup".

  • Hit Return.
  • Quit Terminal.

By this point, open iTunes or Finder and type ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ into Spotlight. You will find the new virtual link that shows up as a folder with a link "arrow" icon on it. It can be deleted at any time if you don't want to make a backup of iPhone 6s (Plus) to the external hard drive.

Get it working

After you successfully create a symlink in Terminal to map the backup location from its default to a folder on the external drive, you had better perform a new backup in iTunes/ Finder, just in case.

  • Plug your iPhone and external HDD into the computer.
  • Open iTunes/ Finder.
  • Hit the iPhone button.
  • Click Back Up Now.

As expected, the new backup folder will be saved on your external hard drive. To clean up the space on your computer's hard drive, you can comfortably delete the "oldbackup" folder now.

Back Up iPhone 6s (Plus) to external hard drive without iTunes

Yet, iTunes/ Finder is not the best solution to have your iPhone 6s (Plus) backed up on the external drive, as it will give an error message that makes your head spin if you type wrong terminal command for some reason. Tired of being such a painful ordeal? We recommend taking a look at a piece of convenient and useful third-party software - iOS Data Backup & Restore that lets you back up data of iPhone 6s (Plus) to an external hard-drive in a direct manner.

Download Now!

for Windows | for MacOS

The application introduces a quick scanning feature to scan and category all files on your iPhone 6s (Plus) into Message & Contacts, Media, and Memos & Others. It also gives you the flexibility to tick the checkbox next to each type of files, which can be a boon if you desire to make specific selections for your backup. Or you can select all data to back them up in one fell swoop. What's more, it brings preview option with it so you can access and view the contents included in your backup; the contents are stored in a readable format.

Make sure the program is installed on your computer, and then follow the step-by-step instructions to back up everything on iPhone 6s (Plus) to the external hard drive using Windows PC or MacOS.

Step 1: Connect your device and an external hard drive to a computer

First and foremost, try to get one external hard drive that has a high capacity (1 TB or above would be better) to back up your device, and plug it into the computer.

Launch the program and connect your phone.

When the window opens, click "More tools" option in the left bottom corner.

Then, look for a tab that says "iOS Data Backup & Restore" and hit it.

Next, click iOS Data Backup button to move on.

With your device recognized, you'll need to choose a backup mode. The default mode is "Standard backup", but if you wish to protect data behind high-level encryption, simply check "Encrypted backup" option.

Next up, click Start button.

Step 2: Choose what gets backed up to external hard drive

In this window, simply check the box of your desired types of files to back up on the external HD. You can make no change if you want to back up all data.

Step 3: Change backup location to the external drive of yours

The next step is related to changing the backup destination to store the backup file. Click on Menu icon on the top right (on Mac, click Mac FoneLab located on the top menu bar), then choose Preferences from its drop-down menu.

After that, a dialog will pop up where you should alter the path of Backup Folder. Click the icon with three dots, and then select your external HDD.

Once done, click OK button to confirm that.

Step 4: Create a backup of iPhone 6s (Plus) on an external hard drive

Finally, hit Next button to go through the backup process.

Once the backup task is finished, you will be able to view the data that you've backed up, by using Restore iOS Data feature.

Everything is done! You've successfully backed up iPhone 6s (Plus) to external hard drive.

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