Download from iPhone Direct to Hard Drive


Today’s Question: I will be taking a photo trip this fall and will only be taking my iPhone. I would like to know if it’s possible to also backup my phone images onto a LaCie Rugged during the trip?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can download photos from an iPhone directly to an external storage device by exporting them via the Files app that is included with the iOS operating system.

More Detail: While it is possible to transfer photos directly from an iPhone to a hard drive without using a computer, the process can be slightly cumbersome if you’ll be transferring a large number of photos. This can be compounded if you’ll be transferring batches of photos over time, such as downloading each day’s photos at the end of the day.

You can connect an external hard drive to your iPhone using a Lightning-to-USB adapter ( However, I find it more convenient to use a flash storage device, such as the SanDisk iXpand (, which features a Lightning connector for plugging direcly into an iPhone as well as a USB connector for transferring to your computer.

After connecting the storage device to your iPhone you can go to the Photos app and browse your photos. Tap the Select button at the top right, and select the photos you want to transfer. Next, tap the Share button (the icon is a rectangle with an arrow pointing out of the top) and scroll to find the “Save to Files” option. Tap “Save to Files”, at which point you will most likely need to tap the Back button at the top left so you can browse all available destinations.

Tap the name of the storage device to initiate the transfer. When the process is complete you can disconnect the device. That storage device can then be connected to your computer to download the images from there.

I do recommend testing this process out before departing on your trip to make sure all the components are compatible with your configuration.