How to Reuse an iPhone or iPad as a USB Hard Drive

The Apple iPhone is one of the most widely used smartphones on the market, but due to the proprietary nature of Apple devices it is difficult to be able to use them as external devices directly. That is why we offer you a guide so that you can use your old iPhone as an external disk for your PC.

If you are one of those who have an old iPhone (or failing that, an iPad) lying around unused, either because the screen has broken and you can’t use it as a mobile phone or you have decided to retire it, did you know that you can give it a second life as an external drive? Next we are going to tell you how you have to do to give the device a second life and be able to make use of it instead of having it pick up dust.

Reuse an iPhone or iPad as a USB Hard Drive

Using the iPhone as an external disk

The solution is none other than to use software that can communicate with the iPhone and therefore understand its file system, and for this we have chosen two applications that will help your PC to access the content of your iPhones.

Coolmuster Free iPad iPhone iPod Disk Mode

Coolmuster iPhone

This free application compatible with all versions of Windows offers us access to the iPhone’s file system without having to jailbreak the device; apart from that, it not only allows us to transmit files but also allows us to navigate the device’s file system.

We have chosen this application in case you are still one of those people who still have a PC with Windows XP or Windows Vista at hand and need to access the content of your iPhone, but if you do not have a PC with Windows 7 onwards, we recommend the second option, which is much more complete.

iMazing / DiskAid

iMazing DiskAid

It is a much more complete tool than the previous one (but it has a paid version) and compatible with Windows 7 and 10. In this tool it not only allows us to explore the files but also has tools to easily extract all kinds of data from our iPhone, since among other things it allows us to extract data in an orderly way such as: the history of WhatsApp messages, photos, music, eBooks that we have stored, calendars, contacts, etc.

Thus, this application is not only ideal for using your iPhone or iPad as an external disk, but also if you intend to retire it and do not want to lose your data, all this directly and without complications, making it an excellent tool for backup your iPhone data.

It is the most complete App of the two that we propose and we recommend it if you use Windows 7 or higher.

A bit of historical background: the Disk Mode on the iPod and its disappearance on the iPhone and Ipad

iPod Disk Mode

Before the launch of the iPhones, Apple’s pocket-size product par excellence was the iPod, its MP3 player that used 1.8-inch hard drives or flash drives to store music.

They had the peculiarity that they could be used as external disks through the so-called Disk Mode. For this, it was necessary to activate it through the iTunes file manager and music player, and doing so regardless of whether we were using Windows or macOS allowed us to access the files on the device.

But with the iPhone, Apple decided to completely eliminate Disk Mode, making it difficult to use any generation of iPhones as an external disk for storing data.

The reason for this is that while the iPod was a simple MP3 player with an operating system with a fairly simple file system, on the iPhone we have a complex operating system with a proprietary file system that our input PC does not understand. because you don’t know how this organizes the data.

The file system or why your PC can’t use your iPhone as a disk without help

File System

The file system or File System is the way in which an operating system stores data on disk. Said system are nothing more than rules of how said system stores data on the hard disk or storage unit, how it names the files, what is the minimum size of each data page, etc. Each operating system has at least one associated file system with which it works, and despite the fact that there are universal file formats, this means that one operating system does not understand the file organization of another.

For example Apple has traditionally used the HFS + file system and recently adopted the APFS, but none of these file systems can be understood by Windows, so when we connect a disk with those file systems on a PC we find that Windows doesn’t understand anything at all.

With this you can understand the reason why your PC does not recognize your iPhone or iPad as an external disk, simply the first thing it does is look for the file that it has created and that it helps to know how the disk is organized, and if not it finds then does not recognize it as such, so it is necessary to use an intermediate software that can interpret it.