We’ve all been there. Something happens to your iPhone and it’s then that you realize the last time you backed it up was over 6 months ago–all those photos are gone.
There is a way to avoid this, of course, and that’s by doing daily backups, you can do these through iCloud wirelessly automatically which is great, but what if you want to back them up to somewhere locally. Say on a hard drive that only you can access and isn’t stored on the web? Is there a way to make this happen automatically without having to think about it?
Well, it turns out there are a few products out there that not only backup your iPhone to a hard drive but can do so seamlessly and without you having to even think about it. So, I scoured through a bunch of these items, ordered a few that looked promising and tested them all out an here are the best ways to back up your iPhone locally–even while you sleep.
Want to back them up easily to the cloud for free instead? Check my video on how to do that here.
So first up, a name you’re probably familiar with: Western Digital. The WD My Cloud Home external drive is a relatively inexpensive drive you can plug into your router at home, download the app on your iPhone and set it up. While setting it up using the app, you can choose to automatically have the iPhone backup all of its photos and videos to the hard drive. Turn that on, turn on background uploading so it can upload without the app needing to be opened constantly, and then I turn on cellular backup so it’ll do it even if not connected to WiFi (if you have a lot of photos and videos though you might want to leave this off so it only backs up using WiFi and doesn’t run up your cellular data plan.
After that though, you can open the app and see a folder for your iPhone camera roll back up and in there you’ll see all of your photos and videos. Once you confirm they’re there you can delete them from your phone if you need to free up space (although I suggest doing this video before you do that just in case) or just leave it and everytime you take a photo it’ll back everything up for you.
The WD app also has integrations with social networks, Plex, and other services should you want to be able to back those up as a bonus.
The 4TB model is just $180 which is a ton of space, but you can even go all the way to 8TBs for $300.
Lacie 2TB Fuel Wireless Storage Drive
Next up, another popular name in storage, this is the Lacie Fuel Wireless Storage Device.
This item is hard to find, but you can still get it on Amazon here, for example, but regardless it’s worth taking a look at.
Similar to the WD drive this allows you to connect your iPhone (or other devices for that matter) wirelessly to the hard drive and using an app you can select to have it automatically back things up whenever the two devices are on and connected to the same wifi network. You enable this by going into Settings > Auto Backup once it’s connected. After that, you can leave it connected to your home wifi and whenever your phone is connected to the same WiFi then you’re all set.
The unique thing about the Lacie Fuel vs the WD My Cloud is that, unlike the My Cloud, it’s portable. No need to have it stay plugged in via the AC cable, you can take it with you and connect to it via USB 3.0 or WiFi (either directly or over any Wifi Network if you connect them both to the same one). It’ll last about 10 hours on a single charge and beyond just storing and backing up photos and videos, it also supports AirPlay so you can stream content from the device if you have an AirPlay-enabled TV or Mac without needing the phone (not sure how much I’d use that, but a nice bonus).
Now, because of the portability, it’s a bit more expensive than the WD My Cloud but still reasonable. You can get the 1TB version on Amazon for $180 or so.
Looking for a cheap tablet that has some premium features? Maybe the new Huawei MediaPad M5 lite is an option? Check out my complete walkthrough video here.
MobileLite Wireless G3 (White)
If both of those options are too expensive, may I suggest the MobileLite Wireless G3 instead? This little guy has some similarities to the Lacie Fuel in that it is totally portable with a built-in battery. You also connect to it via WiFi and using the app, can easily set it up so that it’ll automatically back up all of your photos and videos from your iPhone to storage on the device. You can stream from it using the built-in app, etc. like you can with the other storage solutions on this list. In addition to that, you can even plug in your iPhone into it and use it as a portable power bank to charge the iPhone using that built-in 5400mah battery.
On top of this, it’s only $25. So, what’s the catch? Well, it doesn’t actually have a hard drive or storage of any kind internally. Instead, it has a USB port you can plug in a USB drive to use that for storage or an SD card into the SD card slot to use that, as well. Now, even though that means you do have to buy one of those in order to use it for backup, you can utilize the USB port to connect a hard drive or SD card you might already have and give them the ability to be used as an automatic backup. You can also grab a cheap USB drive like this 1TB one for $50 and just use that connected to it, as well.
Sandisk iXpand Base
And finally, while the other options on this list are more general wireless storage solutions, this is very specific to backing up your iPhone locally while you sleep. This is the SanDisk iXpand Base.
It’s a custom base with an anti-slip top that you can plug into the wall and then plug in your iPhone’s original power cable underneath, wrap it up to hide the long cable, and plug your phone in to that when you set it down on top to charge for the night.
After you set up the SanDisk app on your iPhone it’ll automatically back up all of your iPhone photos, videos, as well as contacts and since they worked closely with Apple to create the product, you can even use the app to restore your iPhone should you need to without iTunes.
It’ll also provide 15W fast charging for the iPhone (which is faster than your iPhone’s original charger, at least).
For storage, similar to the MobileLite G3 is provided by a SanDisk (go figure) SD card that is removable. The nice thing here though is they at least include the SD card with the base if you want for a little discount on the SD cost. The 256GB model, for example, is $170.
And there we go. Four very different ways to backup your iPhone to a local hard drive without having to think about it.
Now, if you have a lot of videos and photos and don’t mind keeping the storage plugged into your router, the WD option will give you the most storage for the money. If you want removable storage, all the other options can help you with that, and if you also want it to be a base/charger and a little more integrated with iOS, the SanDisk is the priciest option but has those extras.
Hope this helps some people out there and let me know if there are any other tips and tricks you’d like some help with and I’ll see if I can do a video to help out.
Thanks for reading!