Backing Up Mac Computer To External Hard Drive

Jul 22, 2021 Before you backup your Mac to an external hard drive, here are three quick suggestions before you backup: Get rid of junk files Check available storage on Mac Make sure your hard drive is properly formatted. How to backup mac to external hard drive. Step 2: Check the box 'Back Up Automatically' and Time Machine will auto backup your Mac computer. Time Machine keeps hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month or weekly backups for all previous months, and the oldest backups will be deleted when the external hard drive has no free space.

  1. How To Backup Mac Onto An External Hard Drive

Photos are some of the most important files people want to keep safe. Storing them in the cloud is nice, but you might also want the peace of mind of having your pictures stored locally. Luckily, it’s easy enough to copy your Mac’s Photos library to an external drive.

This guide assumes you’re using the actual “Photos” app on your Mac, the default if you’ve used iCloud Photo Stream or imported from your iPhone. If you just have your photos in a folder on your Mac, all you need to do is plug your external drive in and move them over. If you’re using another app that maintains a library, you’ll have to configure things within that app.

Moving Your Photos Library

To understand how this works, it’s important to know how the Photos app catalogs files. It’s actually simple; there’s a single file that contains your entire library. If you want to back this up, you plug in your external hard drive and drag the whole file over to that hard drive in the sidebar of Finder.

The harder part comes when you need to change which Photos library you want to use. You’ll have to change the location from which the Photos app is reading.

In the image below, I’ve got two Photos libraries, the default one, and a backup library.


While you can access the backup library just by double-clicking it—which will open it in the Photos app—it’s better to switch Photos to use this one by default. You can always switch back to the regular library when you need to.

Double click the backup library to open it, then open the preferences for Photos from Photos > Preferences in the menubar.

Select “Use as System Photos Library,” which will change the default to the new library.

Back Up Your Drive Automatically With Time Machine

Backing up files manually is not the best solution, as you can never predict when your computer will break. It’s better to back up automatically, so you don’t have to think about it at all. Apple’s built-in Time Machine is the best tool for backing up to an external drive. You can read our guide on setting it up to get started.

Image Credits: dourleak/Shutterstock

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We usually save mobile phone data on a computer and iCloud directly iTunes or iCloud. But over time, these backup files will eat up your limited disk space. In order to free up the storage space occupied by iPhone backup files, you can choose to back up iPhone to external hard drive.

This article mainly tells you how to back up iPhone and iPad to external hard drive. You can transfer your existing iPhone backup files to an external hard drive, but doing so may damage the backup files; of course you can also use professional iPhone backup software to move iOS backup files to external hard drive directly.

  • Part 4: How to Backup iPhone Directly to External Hard Drive[Hot!]

Part 1: Why Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive?

Mobile phones have become an indispensable item in people's lives and work. And a lot of our files and information are also stored on the mobile phone. If the iPhone's memory is insufficient, we should back up iPhone data to other devices as soon as possible, such as external hard drive, which is an ideal storage device for the following reasons:

  • External hard drives are very durable, and general external hard drives can be used for three to five years.
  • The external hard drive can be carried with you.
  • The price of an external hard drive is affordable. Generally, an 8TB external hard drive sells for about US$149.
  • Saving mobile phone files to an external hard drive will not take up space on the computer on the one hand, and will not threaten the files on the external hard drive if the computer system crashes on the other hand. So backing up iPhone data to an external hard drive is a relatively safe way.

Well, it's wise to store iPhone backup on external drive. But how to back up iPhone to external hard drive? Please keep reading.

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Part 2: How to Back up iPhone to External Drive on Windows

Preparation work:

  • Format your external hard drive as Windows NT file system (NTFS)
  • Create a new folder under the root directory of the external hard drive and name it 'iPhoneBackup'.

Step 1: Use the command prompt to change the iPhone backup location

  • Create a virtual symbolic link in Windows, pointing to a folder on your external hard drive.
  • Connect the external hard drive to the Windows computer. If there is a mklink symbolic link creation error, you need to fix it first.
  • Close iTunes, and then run the command prompt as an administrator on the Windows computer.
  • Type the command, and then press 'Enter': mklink /J 'C:UsersisunshareAppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup' 'H:iPhoneBackup'
  • Notice:

    The previous default iPhone backup location is: C:UsersisunshareAppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup

    The new iPhone backup location is: H:iPhoneBackup

  • At this time, you will see a newly created 'Backup' folder with an arrow in the default iPhone backup location.

Step 2: Start to save iPhone backup to external hard drive on Windows

  • Connect your iPhone to the Windows computer.
  • Open iTunes and wait for it to recognize your iPhone.
  • Click the iPhone icon on the iTunes screen, select 'Back Up Now', and then wait for the iPhone to be backed up to the external hard drive.

From now on, the iPhone backup files on iTunes will be automatically stored on the external hard drive, unless you use the following command to cancel the route from Mklink to the external hard drive. And you can also view iPhone backups at any time.

How To Backup Mac Onto An External Hard Drive

mklink /J 'C:UsersyourWindowsusernameAppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup' 'C:UsersyourWindowsusernameAppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup'

Part 3: How to Back up iPhone to External Hard Drive on Mac

Follow the following steps to move iPhone backup to external drive on Mac.

  • Connect your external hard drive to Mac.
  • Format the external hard drive to MS-DOS (FAT) on Mac.
  • If your external hard drive is read-only on Mac, then you need to run Disk Utility to erase it in MS-DOS (FAT) format. Then, you can read and write files to this external hard drive on your Mac.

  • Create a new folder under the root directory of the external hard drive and name it 'iPhoneBackup'.
  • Go to FinderApplications Utilities and select Terminal to run on Mac.
  • Note: Before running Terminal, please make sure you have deleted the Backup folder from ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync.

  • Type this command to set a new location for iPhone backup: ln –s /Volumes/External/iPhoneBackup ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync
  • Here, 'External' refers to the name of your external hard drive.

Backing up mac computer to external hard drive for xbox one

After completing the above operations, the process of backing up iPhone to external hard drive on Mac is almost the same as described on Windows.

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Part 4: How to Backup iPhone Directly to External Hard Drive

Do you feel that the two methods described above are more complicated, especially for computer novices? Can you backup iPhone to external hard drive directly? If you want a simple one-click method to backup iPhone to an external hard drive, then you can use third-party software, such as MobiKin Assistant for iOS. This is a professional iOS data management and backup tool that allows you to Manage iPhone/iPad/iPod files, back up files to computer or iTunes. Of course, it also supports one-click backup iPhone/iPad to external hard drive.

One-stop Tool to Backup & Restore iPhone with One Click

  • Supports backing up iPhone/iPad to computer, iTunes and external hard drive.
  • Restore data from backup to iOS device with one click.
  • Allows you to preview any items, and selectively back up and restore iOS devices.
  • No data loss on devices during the restore.
  • Supports almost all iOS data types, including Video, Photo, Music, eBook, Contacts, Text Messages, Notes, Safari Bookmarks, Voice Memo, Podcast, Ringtone, Playlist, etc.
  • Fully compatible with iPhone 12/12 Pro (Max), iPhone 11/11 Pro/11 Pro Max, iPhone X/XR/XS/XS Max, iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone 7/7 Plus, iPhone 6/6S/6 Plus, iPod touch, iPad, etc.

A quick tutorial you can follow to back up iPhone/iPad to external hard drive with Assistant for iOS.

Step 1: Connect your devices to computer

After getting the MobiKin Assistant for iOS downloaded and installed on your computer, launch it and connect your iPhone and the external hard drive to the computer. Once connected, Assistant for iOS will recognize your iPhone automatically.

Step 2: Select the iPhone data to back up

On the next page of the Assistant for iOS, you can see all accessible file types are listed on the left sidebar. Go ahead to preview and select the files you want to back up by ticking them off.

Step 3: Back up iPhone onto a hard drive

After selecting all the iPhone data you need, you can click on the 'Export' button on the top menu, choose the connected external hard drive as the output location. After that, all the selected iPhone files will be saved to the external drive automatically.

What is the best way to back up iPhone to external hard drive

As you can see, the above is an effective tutorial for backing up iPhone to external hard drive on Windows and Mac computers. In summary, whether you are using iTunes or Finder, you need to manually backup iPhone to external hard drive. And improper operation may damage the data. The best solution is to use MobiKin Assistant for iOS. It can back up iPhone directly to an external hard drive, which is safe and reliable, and will not cause any damage to your device and data.

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