In order to successfully back up your iPhone to an external drive, you will need to have a little bit of knowledge of directory structures and command line. This is because we will be using symbolic links to get that done. Not to mention you will also need the usual iTunes, a USB cable, the iPhone itself, and an external hard drive.

It is also worth mentioning that this process will work on all versions of Mac OS X, all iOS devices with all versions of iOS, and all versions of iTunes. That said, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get it done.
Step 1: Quit iTunes if it’s still open on your computer.
Step 2: If you haven’t already done so, connect the external hard drive you intend to use to the computer and then create a new folder on the drive that will be dedicated to your iTunes backups. You can name the folder anything as long as the file name denotes that it will be an iTunes backup folder.
Step 3: Open the Finder window and then hit Command+ Shift + G and enter the following path ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/

Step 4: In this directory, find the folder called \”Backup\” and then copy that folder to the folder you just created on the external hard drive.

iTunes backup folder

Step 5: Now back in the ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/ path, rename “Backup” to “Backup-Old”. You can also just delete it but only if you are certain you have copied it to the external hard drive.
Step 6: Launch the Terminal application. You can find it in /Applications/Utilities/ and then type the following command:
ln -s /Volumes/FileStorage/Name of Backup File/
~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync

Replace “Name of Backup File” with the actual name for the backup file you created in the external hard drive

open terminal

You may also need to replace “FileStorage” with the name of the external drive.

Step 7: Now, quit Terminal and then go back to ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync. In the Finder, the backup folder should be a generic file with an arrow on it. This signifies that there is now a direct link between that “Backup” and the location on your external drive.

backup folder becomes generic file

Step 8: Open iTunes and connect the iPhone. Select it when it shows up within iTunes and selects “This Computer” as the backup location.
Step 9: Click “Back Up Now” to start the backup process.

backup iphone using iTunes

Step 10: Once the backup is complete, confirm its location by going to the folder on the external hard drive. There should be a “Backup” folder containing a subdirectory. This is the backup you’ve just created.

That’s it. Your backups will now be saved to that external drive as long as it is connected to the Mac. Be advised that the backup will fail if the external drive is disconnected.

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