How to Restore Photos from iCloud Backup
In this comprehensive guide, you'll be able to find the right way to transfer photos from an iPhone to an external hard drive on Windows or Mac, or even without using computer.
Transferring photos from iPhone to an external hard drive has become a common requirement for users seeking to free up storage space or create backups. External hard drives have large storage capacities, and well-known brands such as Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba offer external hard drives for the need to copy iPhone photos to portable hard disk.
Individuals can safely and permanently store their precious memories and important documents by backing up photos from their iPhone to an external hard drive. Whether you are an avid photographer or simply want to create space on your device, learning how to transfer photos from your iPhone to an external hard drive is a valuable skill.
If you are after a convenient and straightforward way, iPhone Data Transfer can effortlessly help you transfer pictures from iPhone to external storage device, including external hard drive, USB flash disk, flash drive, etc., ensuring seamless and efficient transfer of bulk photos.
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If you are a PC user, whether using Windows 11, Windows 10 or Windows 8, here are four ways for you to transfer your photos to an external hard drive from an iPhone / iPad on PC.
Microsoft Photos is an image management and editing software developed by Microsoft, which is a built-in app for Windows 10 and Windows 11 to share and transfer pictures. With Microsoft Photos app, you can import iPhone photos to your external hard drive on Windows directly.
1. Connect iPhone and external hard drive to Windows PC.
Insert the external hard drive into the USB port on your Windows. Unlock your iPhone and connect it to your PC using the lightning cable. When prompted to trust the computer, tap "Trust" and enter your passcode to authorize.
2. Open Microsoft Photos app.
If the Photos app doesn't open automatically when the device is successfully connected, search for Photos in the Start menu and run it.
3. Select the iPhone photos.
Click the "Import" button in the upper right corner and select "From a connected device." Then choose your iPhone device to import from in the pop-up window. Your PC will start loading your iPhone's photos and videos, which will take a while. When it's done, select the pictures you want to transfer from the Import items window that appears.
4. Select external hard drive as the receiving device.
Navigate to "Change destination" in the upper left corner of the Import items window and select any folder in the external hard drive as the destination to save your iPhone photos.
5. Import photos from iPhone to an external hard drive.
Once you have selected the photos and the destination, click "Import [number] items" in the bottom right to start moving photos from iPhone to an external hard drive.
Alternatively, you can import all your iPhone photos to Pictures or a newly created folder on your Windows 10 first, and then copy the imported photos from Pictures or the folder and paste them to an external hard drive.
As the default photo management tool for Windows, Microsoft Photos app is also a good helper to transfer iPhone photos to PC without iTunes.
Another important tool equipped with Windows 10 / 11, File Explorer, which is called Windows Explorer in Windows 8 / 7, provides a resource navigation pane that allows users to switch between different folders by simple clicks. Navigating to your iPhone's DCIM folder in File Explorer enables you to transfer your photos from iPhone to your external hard drive.
1. Connect your unlocked iPhone and the external hard drive to your PC. Make sure your iPhone and external hard drive are recognized by the computer.
2. Open File Explorer / Windows Explorer and locate the connected iPhone device. Press and hold "Win + E" to open File Explorer / Windows Explorer, go to This PC / Computer > Apple iPhone > Internal Storage > DCIM, you will see the photos and videos from your iPhone sorted by date in different subfolders.
Tip: In older versions of Windows, your photos and videos are categorized in 100 APPLE subfolders.
3. Copy the iPhone photos to the external hard drive. Select your pictures in the subfolder or select the whole folder, use "Ctrl" to choose multiple items. When you are done selecting, right click on the selected pictures and hit "Copy."
4. Paste photos to the external hard drive. Head to the external hard drive, right click and select "Paste" to transfer the copied images from iPhone to the external hard drive on your PC.
If you are looking for a more direct transfer method, then iPhone Data Transfer with its straightforward interface will provide you with a simple and clear way to transfer your iPhone's photo library to an external hard drive at high-speed.
iPhone Data Transfer can transfer pictures from your Camera Roll, including screenshots, live photos, downloaded pictures, to an external hard drive in their original quality. Moreover, when reading HEIC photos, it can convert the incompatible format to viewable format on your device.
Here's how to transfer photos from your iPhone to the external hard drive on Windows.
1. Run iPhone Data Transfer and connect the devices.
Plug your external hard drive and iPhone into the USB port of your Windows computer separately. Keep iPhone unlocked to facilitate computer access to iPhone. Then download and launch iPhone Data Transfer on your desktop.
2. Choose the photos category to transfer.
Click the "Photos" button on the left sidebar, and select the photos from the displayed categories. Instead of picking pictures one by one, you can check the box next to "Check All" in the upper left to select all photos in the specific catalog.
3. Add photos to external hard drive.
Click the "computer" icon on the top taskbar, change the save target to any folder in the external hard drive in the pop-up window, then click "Select Folder" in the bottom right to get photos from iPhone to the external hard drive.
Tip: When HEIC photos are detected, there will be a pop-up window prompting whether to convert them, you can choose to automatically convert HEIC to JPG and PNG format to make the photos compatible with your device.
Besides external hard drives, iPhone Data Transfer can also transfer photos and videos from iPhone to other external storage devices, such as transferring photos from iPhone to USB flash drive.
In fact, using iCloud Photos that comes with iOS devices lets you back up your iPhone photos to an external hard disk. Once the iCloud feature is enabled, photos on your iPhone are automatically uploaded to the cloud for backup. After you download photos on your computer by signing in to the iCloud app or visiting the iCloud web page, you can import photos from your iPhone to an external hard drive.
Follow the instructions to know how to back up photos from iPhone to an external hard drive using iCloud:
1. Enable iCloud Photos on your iPhone. Tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos, and turn on "iCloud Photos" or "Sync this iPhone."
2. Visit iCloud.com on your computer and sign in with the same Apple ID.
3. Select "Photos" to access your images saved in the cloud.
4. Locate the "Library" tab and select the photos. Use "Ctrl" to select multiple pictures.
5. Click the "Download" button in the upper right to download the photos to your computer. All photos will be compressed in one folder.
6. Establish a connection between the PC and the external hard drive.
7. Copy and paste the downloaded folder to your external hard drive.
Likewise, you can also take the help of other cloud-based services, such as One Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. The steps and principles of these cloud services to download your iPhone photos to an external hard drive are similar to iCloud.
If you are a Mac user, there are two ways to help you transfer photos from iPhone to external hard drive on Mac. By the way, these two methods also work for transferring photos from your iPhone to MacBook Air.
Image Capture is a native macOS program designed to interact with externally connected devices and facilitate the management and processing of photo and video files. With Image Capture, you have the capability to import photos from your iPhone to an external hard drive on your Mac.
1. Use the lightning-to-USB cable to connect your iOS device to your Mac.
2. Connect the external hard drive to your Mac.
3. Open Image capture in Finder or Launchpad.
4. Select your iPhone in the "DEVICES" section.
5. Pick the photos to be transferred to the external hard drive. Press the "Command" key to select multiple items.
6. In the "Import to" located in the lower left corner, select the external hard drive as the destination folder for the photos to be imported.
7. Click "Import" in the bottom right corner to start transferring. Or click "Import All" to move all your iPhone photos and videos to the external hard drive directly.
Like Windows, Mac also has its native Photos app. Not only can you use the Photos app to transfer videos from iPhone to Mac, but you can also use it to import photos and videos from iPhone to an external hard drive on a Mac. The following is how to transfer photos from iPhone to external hard drive on Mac.
1. Plug your unlocked iPhone into Mac with a data cable and run the Photos app.
Tip: If your Mac was previously connected to your device and Open Photos was set, the Photos app will open automatically when the devices are successfully connected.
2. Locate your connected iPhone in the Devices tab on the left side.
3. Select the photos you want to transfer in the Import window. You can hold down the "Command" key while clicking to select multiple photos.
4. Click "Import [number] Selected" or "Import All New Items" in the upper right corner. You can find the transferred photos in the Imports section on the left sidebar.
5. Connect an external hard drive to your Mac and open it.
6. Drag and drop your imported photos from the "Import" tab of the Photos app to any storage location on your external hard drive.
Actually, don't worry even if you don't have a computer, as there is an option available that allows you to back up photos from your iPhone / iPad to an external hard drive without using a computer. iOS 8 and later devices support accessing files stored on external devices connected to iPhone through File and other apps.
If you have a Lightning flash drive, such as the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive, or as long as you have a Lightning to USB adapter or cable, you can directly transfer photos from your iPhone to an external hard drive without computer.
1. Use a Lightning to USB adapter to connect your iPhone to an external hard drive. Get a Lightning to USB adapter that is compatible with your iPhone model. Connect the Lightning end of the adapter to your iPhone and connect your external hard drive to the USB end of the Lightning to USB adapter.
2. Find the location of the external hard drive. Launch the Files app on your iPhone, then tap Browse > Locations at the bottom of the screen to view the external hard drive.
3. Save your iPhone photos to an external hard drive. Navigate to the Photos app and select photos, tap the Share icon > Save to Files > On My iPhone and choose your external hard drive to save photos.
To free up space on your iPhone or back up photos or other files, you need to choose the right external hard drive in every dimension to facilitate transferring and storing photos, videos, or other files from your iPhone.
1. Storage Capacity: Assess your current and future storage needs. It's recommended to choose a drive with sufficient storage capacity to accommodate your growing collection of photos.
2. Portability: If you want to carry external hard drive around with you for unexpected needs, consider its physical size, weight and durability to find a small, lightweight external hard drive.
3. Connectivity: Check the compatibility of the hard drive with your devices. Most portable hard drives use a USB-C connection. But if you're transferring photos to an external hard drive from your iPhone or iPad directly, make sure you have the proper lightning-to-USB adapter.
4. Backup and Security Features: Some portable hard drives come with built-in backup feature to help you automatically or manually create backup copies of your photos and other files to protect your data from accidental deletion, hardware failure, or other data loss situations.
5. Warranty and Customer Support: Check the warranty and customer support offered by the manufacturer. A longer warranty provides added protection and indicates the manufacturer's confidence in their product.