• March 4, 2021 •

Guide to Back Up iPhone to an External Drive Using Terminal in macOS Mojave

External Drive is a great device, I mean you can store whatever information you want and take it wherever you go. if you’re using a laptop or a desktop and you want to backup your iPhone in there, but what if the machine is running out of space? Well, there comes an external drive handy.

In this article, we’ll be discussing how to back up the iPhone to an external drive using and terminal in macOS Mojave. Without further delay, let’s get started.

Back-Up iPhone with iTunes Using Terminal

You can back up iPhone and iPad locally using iTunes and Finder app on the Macs that supports macOS Catalina+. But honestly, it is quite confusing to guess exactly which folder to use for backing up the iPhone. As a result, you don’t have the option to save it to the external drive.

It’s not like you can’t do anything about it. You can manually back up your iTunes or Finder backup by searching the backup folder and moving it into an external drive. But you can do that by using Apple.

Before using Terminal in macOS Mojave or above, we need to grant full access to change the administrative settings. Here’s how to do that.

How to Grant Terminal Full Disk Access

Step 1: Visit System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy Tab.

Step 2: Select “Full Disk Access” from the left sidebar.

Step 3: Tap on the “+” button in order to add Terminal to approved apps with complete access.

Guide To Back Up Iphone To An External Drive Using Terminal In Macos Mojave

Step 4: Once done, just restart the Terminal.

Set iPhone Backup to an External Drive

Step 1: Open the external drive and make a new folder named “MobileSync” (recommended to give folder name “MobileSync”, as it has worked for many users due to valid reasons).

Step 2: Open a new Finder window through File > New Finder Window, or Command-N.

Step 3: Select Go > Go to Folder or Command + Shift + G.

Guide To Back Up Iphone To An External Drive Using Terminal In Macos Mojave

Step 4: Enter ( ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/ ) in the appeard box, and select Go.

Step 5: Locate the folder name “Backup”,

Step 6: Drag the “Backup” folder into the folder that you’ve created in step 1.

Step 7: Rename the folder “Backup” to “BackupOld”.

Step 8: Visit Terminal.

Step 9:  Type the command, replacing the “ExternalDriveName” with the exact name of your external drive and replacing “MobileSync” or “MyiPhoneBackUp” with the name of the folder you created from step 1:

 ln -s /Volumes/ExternalDriveName/ MobileSync /Backup/ ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync

Guide To Back Up Iphone To An External Drive Using Terminal In Macos Mojave

Note: For the finder app in macOS Catalina+, use the same command in Terminal but add spaces in between the word “Backup and ~” just like command mentioned below:

ln -s /Volumes/[Your ExternalDrive’sName]/MobileSync/Backup/  ~/Library/ApplicationSupport/MobileSync

Guide To Back Up Iphone To An External Drive Using Terminal In Macos Mojave

Step 10: Press Return.

Step 11: Verify the link that was established:

  • Select Go to Folder via Go > Go to Folder or just Command+Shift+G
  • Enter ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/, in the box that will appear.
  • Now, a shortcut to the Backup folder in the Mobile Sync window will link to the external drive’s backup folder is established, click on the Backup shortcut to see if that works.
Guide To Back Up Iphone To An External Drive Using Terminal In Macos Mojave

Step 12: Now, you can use Finder or iTunes, just connect iOS device and backup normally selecting “This computer”.

Step 13: Now, select the Back Up Now button.

Guide To Back Up Iphone To An External Drive Using Terminal In Macos Mojave

Step 14: Verify that the backup file is there.

Guide To Back Up Iphone To An External Drive Using Terminal In Macos Mojave

From now onwards, you can try to backup data from an external drive using iTunes or Finder. Just make sure to connect the external drive to the computer whenever you want to restore the device from a backup.

What if Backup to External Drive is Not Working?

If the method mentioned above to backup iPhone from an external device fails, here’s the secondary method you can perform. You can manually move your Finder or iTunes backup file to an external drive right after iTunes creates it.

iTunes will create and new backup file each time when you move the backup file. Here’s the Finder and iTunes backup file location:

/Users/yourusername/Library/Application Support/MobileSync 

Now, you know everything about how to backup iPhone using external drive drive, you can carry backup file whenever you want.

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