How to Backup iPad to External Hard Drive on PC/Mac

How do you backup iPad to external hard drive to avoid data loss? Well, this post will show you 4 methods to help you back up iPad to external drive easily and safely.


By Dylan / Updated on June 20, 2024

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Can I back up an iPad to an external hard drive?

Today, I got the latest 2021 iPad Pro, and I noticed that I've got too much iPad data that never backed up. So I bought a Samsung external drive to back up my iPad? Is there any way to backup data fast?

- Question from



Can You Backup iPad to External Hard Drive?

Lots of people bought the latest iPad Pro because of its better display and better processor. After a period of use, you may want to backup the iPad to an external hard drive to avoid data loss and unexpected situations. 

When it comes to backing up iPad, some users may turn to the iCloud service provided by Apple to automatically upload data to cloud-based storage. there are still some reasons making users want to backup iPad data to an external disk instead iCloud, such as.

● Saving up iCloud space. iCloud only gives each Apple ID 5GB of free space. if your iCloud storage is full, the service will fail. Moving data that you rarely open to another place is a nice way to save your iCloud space.
Avoid mistaken deletion. iCloud not only backup iPad data but also syncs data among every Apple device that enables iCloud. If you make a change on a file, the previous edition will be deleted from your iPhone, iPad, iPod.
Flexibly manage data. Nowadays, lots of storage manufacturers are making large storage devices with smaller sizes than before. Thus, backing up or transfer data to an external drive enables you to carry them wherever you go.

So can you backup iPhone to an external hard drive? Yes, you can! It is not different to perform this. Refer to the following content, it will guide you on how to backup iPad to external hard drive in 2024 with 4 methods. 

How to Backup iPad to External Hard Drive on a Computer

If you have a computer at hand, there are 2 common and simple methods to back up your iPad to an external hard drive. Let's check it!

Method 1. Easiest Way to Backup iPad to External Hard Drive

To backup iPad to external hard drive, one of the easiest ways is to use a professional iOS backup software named FoneTool. It can help you directly back up your iPad to an external hard drive, computer, flash drive, or other storage devices.

Highlights of Using FoneTool to Backup iPad to External Hard Drive:
1. An intuitive interface helps you easily change the backup path and complete the process.
2. You can fully back up the iPad or choose to preview and selectively back up part of iPad data.
3. It is compatible with full iPad models, even the latest iPad 10, and works well with iPhone and iPod Touch.
4. With the Selective Backup, the target device's original data will not be overwritten.
5. Total USB connection ensures fast backup speed and absolute data security.

Next, connect the external hard drive and iPad with a computer via USB cables and trust the PC. Just download this software to see how this tool works:

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7
Secure Download

Part 1. Backup All iPad Data to External Hard Drive

Step 1. Run FoneTool, and click Phone Backup on the interface. Go to Full Backup and click Get Started. (If you need to selectively back up iPad data, please skip to the next part to make it.)

full backup

Step 2. If you need to back up some private information, like Health data, please encrypt the backup > Change the storage location from the Backup Storage Path option to back up iPad to external hard drive > Click Start Backup to back up iPad to external drive.

backup encryption

You can also use this way to back up various iPhone models like iPhone 15 to PC.

Part 2. Backup Selected Data to External Hard Drive

Step 1. Download, install, and launch FoneTool.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 2. Choose Phone Backup on the main interface > Go to Selective Backup and click Get Started.

main interface

Step 3. You can choose an icon to decide what you want to back up > Click OK to continue.

selective backup

Step 4. Click the Backup Storage Path option to change the storage path to the external hard drive > Then click Start Backup to backup iPad to external drive.

Change Path

Waiting for the process to get finished. From the My Backups page, you can browse, delete, and restore the backup files.

my backups

Method 2. Backup iPad to External Hard Drive via iTunes

iTunes for Windows can help you to back up iPad on Windows. But iTunes does not allow you to change the backup storage path in its interface. If you want to do so, you can first change the iTunes backup location and then follow the steps below:

Step 1. Connect the iPad and the external drive with a Windows computer. You may need to trust the computer if it is the first time your iPad connected to the PC.

Step 2. Press Win + R on the Run box, and type cmd on it to open Command Prompt > Execute the command:

mklink /J “C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “E:\”

E:\ is the connected external drive, and you can change it with another letter.

Step 3. Now you can install iTunes for Windows. Click the iPhone icon in the top corner.

Step 4. Choose the Summary section. And ensure This computer is where your backup data will be stored. And click Backup Now beneath the Manually Back Up and Restore.

backup with itunes

Apparently, iTunes is not easy for most people, especially for people who are not familiar with Command Prompt. And sometimes, you may encounter an iTunes backup session failed issue.

How to Backup iPad to External Hard Drive Without Computer

If you don’t have a computer, you can use a USB-to-lightning adapter to connect your iPad with your external hard drive. It is a great way to move several photos, files, videos on an iPad to an external hard drive. Here we take backing up iPad photos as an example to demonstrate how to perform it.

Step 1. Connect your iPad with your external drive with a USB-to-lightning adapter.

apple camera adaptor

Step 2. Open the Photos app or other application that contains your data needed to be transferred > Select photos you want to save on your computer.

Step 3. Tap the share icon, and choose Save > Choose the external hard drive, usually named ThumbDrive.

save to thumbdrive

Then you will have a backup of the pictures on the external hard drive without a computer.

How to Backup iPad to External Hard Drive via Finder on Mac

For Mac users, iTunes has one limitation - it is only compatible with devices running macOS Mojave or earlier. If you’re using macOS Catalina or later, iTunes won’t be able to accomplish this. That's where the Finder comes in! With the Finder, you can backup iPad to external hard drive by first copying them to your computer and then moving the backup to the external drive.

Part 1. Backing Up iPad to Mac

Step 1. Connect your iPad and external hard drive to your Mac using a USB cable > Open the Finder go to the Places section and select your iPad.

Step 2. Click the General tab and select Back up all of the data on your iPad to this Mac > Click Apply to save all your iPad data to your computer.

Backup iPad to Mac

Part 2. Transferring a Backup to an External Hard Drive

Step 1. Open the Finder from the Dock > Select your iPad > Click General and select Manage Backups.

Step 2. Find the backup you made earlier and click it > Select Show in Finder from the drop-down menu.

Step 3. Navigate to the Backup folder and select Copy from the drop-down list > Select your external hard drive as the destination for copying the backup folder and click Paste Item.

Transfer iPad Backup to External Hard Drive

FAQS on How to Backup iPad to External Hard Drive

Here are 3 common questions and answers about how to backup iPad to external hard drive:

Q1: Can I back up my iPad to an external hard drive without using iTunes?

Yes! If you don’t want to create a virtual link between the system storage, you can make use of a third-party tool FoneTool to directly back up your iPad to an external hard drive.

Q2: Is it possible to back up an iPad to an external hard drive on a Windows PC?

Yes, you can connect your iPad and external hard drive to a Windows PC via USB and use File Explorer to transfer the files to the external hard drive.

Q3: Can I back up specific data like photos and videos from my iPad to an external hard drive?

Yes, most backup tools like FoneTool allow you to select specific files or types of data to back up to an external hard drive, but iTunes cannot help you do that.


After reading this post, you learn 4 useful methods to backup iPad to external hard drive. You can choose iTunes, FoneTool, and an adapter to backup data. By contrast, FoneTool is suitable for most situations. It works well whether you are backing up data to another disk, or flash drive, SSD, and so on.

Besides, FoneTool even supports backing up iPhone to NAS if you have a bunch of data you don't want to lose on your iOS devices. Why not try it out? Now download and use FoneTool right now!

Dylan · Editor
Dylan is an editor of mobile backup software. He likes to share the latest news about iPhone and iOS, write useful tips, and give solutions to help people solve all kinds of issues.