How to Copy and Back Up Files To External Storage on iPhone and iPad

An iPad Pro with a connected USB-C flash drive.Khamosh Pathak

Thanks to iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, it is finally easy to manage external storage on iPhone and iPad. You can connect USB keys and SD cards to copy and save your data. Here's how you do it.

How to connect an external storage to an iPhone or iPad

If you're using a 2018 iPad with a USB-C port and a USB-C flash drive, just plug in the flash drive.

If you have another iPad or iPhone, you will need an adapter. You can use a Lightning to USB adapter to connect a USB flash drive, and it also works for a USB SD card reader.

You can also buy Apple standalone products. Lightning to SD card reader.

Two Apple Lightning to USB adapters.

Support for hard drives or external semiconductors is at best uncertain. However, you can connect USB-C external drives directly to your iPad Pro via the USB-C port. Discs requiring more power, especially those with rotating hard drives, require an external power source.

If you connect a drive and see a message saying "This accessory requires too much power," you will need to use a connector with direct power. You can make them work with iPhones and old iPads with a Lightning to USB 3 camera adapter, which allows you to power your device (and the player) via a Lightning port.

How to copy files from an external storage

We are using the Files application copy data to and from external storage. Start by connecting your USB key or SD card using one of the methods described above, then open the Files application.

Go to the "Browse" tab. When you see your player in the "Locations" section, tap to view all the files and folders on your player.

Tap your flash drive.

Tap a file to preview. The Files application has a robust media player. You can open text and audio files or even watch videos from your player without exporting them to an application.

Let's move some data from your external drive to the local storage of your iPhone or iPad. First, in "Locations", tap the "On my iPhone" or "On my iPad" section.

Tap "On my iPad".

Here, press and hold the empty space, then select "New Folder".

Name it and press "Done" to create a new folder for the files you want to transfer.

Now, in the "Locations" section, select your USB key.

Press your USB key in "Locations".

Here, press "Select" in the top toolbar and then choose the files you want to move.

In the lower toolbar, press "Move."

This opens a menu with all the available slots in the Files application. Tap "On my iPhone" or "On my iPad" to expand the local storage option. Select the folder you just created, and then press "Copy." The files are transferred to the folder.

RELATED, RELATED, RELATED: All you can do with the Files app on your iPhone or iPad

How to copy files to an external storage

Once you have connected your external drive, you can copy data from any location of the Files application as you did previously. This means that you can copy files from your iCloud drive, Dropbox, a connected SMB server or any application you add to the "Locations" section of the Files application.

Using the Save in Files extension

For example, suppose you want to export photos to a USB drive. First, go to the Photos application, select the images, and then press the Share button.

Tap the Share button.

Select "Save to files".

Tap "Save to files".

This opens the Versatile Files extension, allowing you to back up files anywhere, including connected external drives.

Tap your external drive, and then select a folder. You can also press the New Folder button at the top to create one. Select the folder of the external drive, then press "Save."

In one second, your photos are exported at their maximum resolution to the folder you selected on the external storage device. To confirm this, go to the Files application and navigate to the folder.

The images moved to the destination folder.

The Photos application is just one example. You can use this method to move PDF files, videos, images, and so on. from any application to an external storage.

Using the Files application

What happens if the file is already saved in the Files application? You can use drag and drop to move files quickly.

Open the Files application, and then navigate to the folder where you saved the files. Then, tap and hold a file, and then slide your finger away from the icon. You should now be in file selection mode.

Tap and hold the file, and then drag it.

If you want to select multiple files, press it with your other finger.

Tap another file to select it.

Then use your other hand to switch to the external drive from the "Locations" menu. While holding the files with one finger, navigate to the folder where you want to save them.

Once you have reached the destination folder, you can free the files and they will be copied to the external storage.

Drop the files into the external storage folder.

That's it! You can now remove your USB key from your iPhone or iPad. It is not necessary to eject it safely.

Become a privileged user of files

As you may have guessed, the Files application is quite complex and there are several ways to perform a single action. The best way to become an experienced user of Files is to explore it, because the version of iPadOS 13 helps to transform your iPad in a real computer.

After the upgrade, the first thing to do is to activate dark mode.

RELATED, RELATED, RELATED: iPadOS will almost make your iPad a real computer

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