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How to Back Up iPhone 7 (Plus) to External Hard Drive

Blake Sullivan Updated on Apr 15, 2022 3:27 PM

If you own the iPhone 7 (Plus) and got it basically when it came out, you no doubt have a large quantity of treasured memories in it by now. As long as you get in the habit of backing up your iPhone 7 (Plus) in iCloud or your computer, you can keep your data safe and secure. But there may be times when, for example, your MacBook Pro only have 256GB solid SSD and your phone has the same size of the memory, that you'll never be able to do a full backup of your iPhone. Or iCloud will not work as you travel to places with limited internet availability, and the storage is too limited. Well, taking a backup of iPhone 7 (Plus) into external hard drive can potentially help.

Here are easy-to-follow tips on how to back up iPhone 7 (Plus) on external hard drive natively.

Back Up iPhone 7 (Plus) to External Hard Drive in iTunes/ Finder

Moving iPhone backups off the computer and put them on an external drive sounds complicated, but if you follow the steps it may be a cinch to master. Simply plug the external hard drive into Mac or Windows PC, copy the backup files from the internal drive and paste them to the external hard drive. If needed, you could also create a symlink to point iTunes & Finder to that folder in the external drive for backup.

Step 1: Locate your backups

To find a list of backup folders if you use iTunes:

  • Click on the magnifier icon.
  • Type the text:  ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/.
  • Hit Return.

In Finder on Mac with Catalina, hit Command+Shift+G to bring up the "Go To" window, and type the following directory in: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/.

See here to learn more: Locate backups of your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Step 2: Move iOS backups to an external hard drive

  • Connect your external hard drive to your computer, and open it.
  • Create a new folder on the external hard drive and name it "iPhoneBackup".
  • Choose your iOS backup in Finder or iTunes window.
  • Drag the entire folder (not just part of it) over to the external hard drive.
  • Go back to iTunes/ Finder window, and rename the existing backup file to "OldBackup".

Tip: With the process completed, you can delete the old folder on the hard drive. Make sure you can back up your device on the external HD first.

Step 3: Create a symbolic (virtual) link to tell iTunes/ Finder new location of the backups

  • Launch Terminal, and type the command in iTunes: ln -s /Volumes/[Your External Drive's Name]/iPhoneBackup/Backup/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup
  • Press Return.
  • Quit Terminal.

Now it's time to check if iTunes or Finder can set your iPhone 7 (Plus) backup to the external hard drive. Just connect your device and external hard drive to your computer, and click Back Up Now in iTunes/ Finder window.

On top of that, you have to quickly uncheck the "Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected" in iTunes/ Finder, or there's a possibility that the new data could get saved through the built-in syncing feature and they won't go to your external HDD.

How to Remove the Symlink

If you want to move the backup location back to your Mac's drive or a Windows-based computer because you have made some space for your backup files, simply type ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ in Spotlight, and delete the symlink folder - it's the one with an arrow on the bottom left.

How to Back Up iPhone 7 (Plus) Directly to an External Hard Drive

While iTunes/ Finder makes it not that hard to copy the backup of your iPhone 7 (Plus) to the external drive, you may run into problems when trying to create symlink for the first time to change the backup location for iOS backups from internal hard drive to an attached external hard drive. If you somehow make a mistake in dealing with terminal commands, the backup would fail and you have to trigger the process again. It's a royal pain in the ass.

If you are someone who doesn't like doing the obnoxious things over and over and is scouting for a program that can help you back up stuff of iPhone 7 (Plus) onto external hard drive without iTunes or Finder, take a look at iOS Data Backup & Restore.

Download Now!

for Windows | for MacOS

This software has a lot of things going for it. The best part is that it supports you to just change the default destination to a new folder created on your external hard drive so you can do a backup directly from iPhone 7 (Plus) to the external hard drive. Talking about the feature that makes the tool super impressive, the quick, and efficient data scanner is able to find all files on the iOS device and catalog them in a decent way by types. You can complete a partial backup by opting to choose certain types of files, such as SMS & iMessages, call history, contacts, photos, notes, and many others.

Below, we'll show you how to make a backup for iPhone 7 (Plus) onto an external hard drive of your choice.

Step 1: Have your device connected and choose "iOS Data Backup"

First, plug your iPhone into your computer using a USB cable.

Launch the software, and click on More tools on the lower-left corner of the window

Continue to click on iOS Data Backup & Restore tab.

In the windows that appears, click iOS Data Backup button.

Then, choose between Standard backup and Encrypted backup options. The latter one backs iPhone 7 (Plus) up with a protected password.

No matter what you choose, you 'll get the same results for backup purposes. Press Start button.

Step 2: Connect external drive and set it as the backup location

Attach the external hard drive to your computer, open it, and create a folder and name it "iOSBackup".

Now, click on Menu on the top bar and choose Preferences. This should bring out a dialog window, where you could change the Backup Folder to "iOSBackup" in external HD.

Step 3: Select the types of file to back up

At this point, a window opens, and you just select types of data you want to save to the external hard drive. By default, you don't have to make any changes if you wish to back up everything of your device.

Step 4: Back up files on iPhone 7 (Plus) to an external hard drive

Having done the previous steps, hit Next button afterwards. The program will immediately start backing up iPhone 7 (Plus) to the external drive. Just wait for the process to complete.

That's really all there is to it.

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