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How to Back Up iPhone XR to External Hard Drive Easily - Two Options

Blake Sullivan Updated on Apr 15, 2022 3:56 PM

So you just get an external hard drive from local store. That's great! But how can you back up your phone files to the device? This article is about backing up iPhone XR data to an external hard drive.

There are many of reasons you may want to back up your iPhone XR data to an external hard drive rather than computer. you may want to move the data to external hard drive to make much-needed additional storage space on the iPhone XR. In particular, you may want to get an extra backup copy of the data so that you can avoid any disaster happened unexpectedly.

Whatever the reason, here's what you need to know about backing up iPhone XR to external drive.

Back up iPhone XR data to external hard drive with Symlink

Here is a Windows command way that enables users to move iPhone backup that you make with iTunes & Finder onto an external hard drive automatically. As we know, iTunes specifies a fixed folder to save iPhone backups on computer by default. By using Symlink, you can points to another new location for the backup file. In this way, each time you perform backups with iTunes & Finder, you iPhone XR data will be backed up to the external hard drive, and you will never have to copy and paste backups from one place to another over and over.

Part 1: How to back up data from iPhone XR to external hard drive

To set a symlink of your external hard drive, just follow these steps below.

On a Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 and above:

  • Plug the external drive into Mac, and create a new folder called "iPhoneBackup" in the root of it.
  • Enter "~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync" into Spotlight to reach your backup folder which named "backup", rename the folder to "OldBackup".
  • Drag the "OldBackup" folder onto the "iPhoneBackup" on Mac.
  • Head to Finder > Applications > Utilities to activate Terminal.
  • Type following commands to locate your new iPhone backups: ln –s /Volumes/External Drive/iPhoneBackup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup (External Drive: The name of your external hard drive.)
  • Hit Return.

Note: In case that there is a space in your external hard drive's name (e.g., My USB), you should use the backslash instead of the space: "My\ USB".

On Windows or on a Mac with macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier:

Close iTunes if it opens on your computer, and then refer to these instructions:

  • Connect the external USB hard drive to the computer. Create a new folder called "iPhoneBackup" in the root of drive.
  • In Windows File Explorer, find your iTunes backup folder by inputting the path: C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup. Rename it to "Old Backup", copy it to the new folder in drive. (Username: Your Windows name of computer account.)
  • Press "Window-R" and type "cmd" into the Run box, click "Enter". A Command Prompt window opens. Type the following command: mklink /J "C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "f:\iPhoneBackup".
  • Press the "Enter" key.
  • Run iTunes on your computer, and wait a few seconds for detection on iPhone. Next you can follow backup steps in iTunes to back up your iPhone to the external hard drive.

If all goes well, every time you make an iPhone XR backup by iTunes from now on, the backup file should be on your designated external drive.

Part 2: How to undo symlink and back up iPhone XR to the computer

If you'd like to restore the default setup of the backup path and just want to back up iPhone to the internal drive on computer, it's not hard to change it back. Before you do this, connect the external drive to your computer.:

  • Head to "Backup" folder on your computer.
  • Delete the symlink folder which is the Backup Shortcut. (the one with an arrow in the bottom left)

Now you can back up and restore your iPhone XR in iTunes & Finder as normal.

Get iPhone XR backups onto an External Drive with Fonelab

If you're not good at Windows command or are looking for a more simple and flexible way to back up your data, you should consider iOS Data Backup & Restore. The program is capable of backing up your iPhone data on computer or external storage media without tedious steps. You can even select what types of data to be backed up. It works well on both Mac and PC machines.

Download Now!

for Windows | for MacOS

Here's how to use this program to back up data on iPhone XR to external hard drive. First of all, connect the external drive to USB port and ensure that it can be detected by the computer with success.

[Useful Post: How to Back Up iPhone 11 to Mac Computer]

Step 1: Launch the program and select backup tab

The first thing you will have to do is attach your iPhone XR to the computer using a lightning cable and open up the program. On its main interface, choose More tools on the bottom side.

In the window that opens, choose iOS Data Backup & Restore.

Then move over to the top right corner of the screen, click the little icon with three horizontal lines. And choose Preferences from the drop-down menu.

In the pop-up dialog box, browse to the folder you're going to save backups into on your external hard drive.

back iPhone XR up to an external hard drive

Click on OK and then return to the main interface of the program. Then choose iOS Data Backup.

Step 2: Select types of data to be backed up

Go ahead and select option — Standard backup or Encrypted backup in the next window.

f you want to protect the backup file from being unauthorized accessed by others, you can select Encrypted backup, or pick the default "Standard backup" option and then click on Start.

Next, you're presented with a window where you choose the kind of file you want to back up, such as photos, audios, texts, contacts, reminders, notes.

Select what you want and go on.

Step 3: Back up iPhone XR data files to external hard drive

When you satisfy your choice, click on Next button. Then the process of backing up iPhone XR contents to the external hard drive will commence immediately.

In general, the backup process can spend some time. Precisely how long it will take relies on the size of your data, speed of your computer CPU and more.

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