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It’s quite straightforward to use an iPod as an external hard drive, but what about an iPhone?

iPods are becoming less common; iPhones now fulfill almost all the functions that the once-ubiquitous MP3 players used to. Wouldn’t it be great if you could consign your USB flash drive The Best, Fastest, Most Rugged USB Flash Drives You Can Buy Right Now The Best, Fastest, Most Rugged USB Flash Drives You Can Buy Right Now USB flash drives are some of of the coolest inventions for geeks. We've rounded up five of the fastest, most rugged, and overall best drives on the market. Here's what we've found. Read More to the annals of history and use your phone for the data you need to carry around with you instead?

Luckily, you can. Here are six ways to use your iPhone as an external hard drive.

1. File Manager (free)

File Manager is arguably the best phone-based app on the list. Not only does it let you manage your files, but it also acts as a virtual USB drive for both the iPhone and iPad.

Once you’ve installed the app on your device, you have two ways of getting data onto in:

  • Use iTunes: Connect your iPhone to a computer (Mac or Windows) with a copy of iTunes. Navigate to Apps and find File Manager on the list. Click on it, and you can drag-and-drop files into the documents section in the right-hand panel.
  • Use Wi-Fi: In the app, go to Settings > Upload Via Wi-Fi Sync, and it will give you an IP address. Enter the address into a browser that’s on the same network as your phone, and you’ll be able to transfer files back and forth.

file-manager

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The app can read certain files (such as Microsoft Office, PDFs, and Apple iWork), but it will gladly accept any file you throw at it.

2. Files: Document & PDF Reader (free)

Files: Document & PDF Reader is in a similar mold to File Manager. However, it offers a couple of additional ways to transfer your files; you can use iTunes and a Wi-Fi network, but it’ll also work with Windows Explorer and Finder.

files-document-pdf-reader

There is one drawback – the app has a 200 MB data limit. You’ll need to purchase the pro version if you want unlimited storage. The premium version also adds support for Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and OneDrive.

3. iMazing (from $34.99)

Unlike the two apps I’ve looked at so far, iMazing (formerly DiskAid) doesn’t require you to install anything on your actual iPhone. Instead, it’s a desktop app that acts as a replacement for iTunes Alternatives to iTunes: 5 Best Free Music Players for Mac OS X Alternatives to iTunes: 5 Best Free Music Players for Mac OS X Unless you're chained to the iTunes ecosystem and have no choice but to use it, you may want to consider switching to one of these alternatives. Read More (available on Mac and Windows).

imazing

The app has got lots of great features, including photo organization, backup creation, and advanced iOS management options – but you’ll be most interested in the file transfer service. It has a simple drag-and-drop interface and will let you choose which app on your phone you want to save the content to.

4. SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive (around $40)

Of course, you don’t need to use an app at all. These days, you’re probably already carrying around lots of dongles Apple Ditches the Headphone Jack, Mark Zuckerberg Tapes Over Webcam... [Tech News Digest] Apple Ditches the Headphone Jack, Mark Zuckerberg Tapes Over Webcam... [Tech News Digest] Apple plans to kill the headphone jack, Mark Zuckerberg covers his webcam with tape, Twitter lets verified users Engage, Apple will fund your next eBook spending spree, and Jerry Seinfeld's apartment is Doomed. Read More to connect your iPhone to various other devices, so one more can’t hurt.

There’s an entire sector devoted to iPhone-specific USB drives. They all come with a Lightning connector and plug directly into your iDevice. Currently, the best-in-class is the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive.

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive 32GB for iPhone and iPad, Black/Silver, (SDIX30C-032G-GN6NN) SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive 32GB for iPhone and iPad, Black/Silver, (SDIX30C-032G-GN6NN) Free up space on your iPhone by moving photos and videos to your iXpand flash Buy Now At Amazon $43.95

It’ll automatically backup your photos, lets you transfer any file on/off your phone, and is USB 3.0 enabled. Best of all, it also has a USB port; if you have a USB cable, you’ll be able to transfer data from the flash drive directly onto any device – even if there’s no Lightning port How To Add Missing Ports To Your New MacBook How To Add Missing Ports To Your New MacBook Sometimes you just need more ports, particularly if your laptop only has one connector. Here's how to add them to your new MacBook. Read More .

It comes in three sizes: 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB.

5. eMart USB Flash Drive (around $20)

If the SanDisk offering is out of your price range, check out this eMart product.

Sure, it doesn’t look as sleek as the SanDisk, but it’s only half the price. It comes in one size (32 GB) and will cost you $22 on Amazon.

eMart Apple Cell Phone 32GB USB Flash Drive i-Flash U-Disk Memory Stick Pen Drive for Computer, iPhone & iPad Series and Android Cell Phone Series - Gold eMart Apple Cell Phone 32GB USB Flash Drive i-Flash U-Disk Memory Stick Pen Drive for Computer, iPhone & iPad Series and Android Cell Phone Series - Gold Compatible with All USB Based Computers, iPhone & iPad Series and Android Series Buy Now At Amazon $24.90

Interestingly, it has three connectors – Lightning, USB 2.0, and micro USB. As such, it will also work with most Android phones, making it perfect if other members of your household use Google’s rival mobile operating system.

6. iTunes

Finally, it’s worth noting iTunes itself will let you transfer most files How to Transfer Music, PDFs, and Other Files From Mac to iPhone How to Transfer Music, PDFs, and Other Files From Mac to iPhone Apple doesn't always make it easy to get things like PDFs, videos, or iWork files from your Mac to your iPhone. Here's what you need to know. Read More to and from your device. It’s not as elegant or straightforward as the other methods I’ve discussed, but if you don’t want to rely on third-party products – and you don’t deal with any unusual file types – it will do the job.

To transfer files, plug your phone into your computer and launch the app. Select your device and click Apps. Underneath File Sharing, choose the app you want to transfer a file to. You now have two options:

  • To transfer a file from your phone: Right-click the file, choose Save To, and select your destination.
  • To transfer a file onto your phone: Select Add, choose the file you want to move and click Open.

You don’t need to be able to open the file using the app you specified, just remember where you’ve put the file and download it elsewhere.

Do You Need to Use Your iPhone?

So, we ‘ve learned you can use your iPhone as an external hard drive, but do you need to? There’s no denying that moving files around on a portable device is pretty old school in the age of plentiful cloud storage.

With the proliferation of services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, it’s questionable whether using your phone is necessary. It’s less secure and less user-friendly than using cloud-based alternatives. Buying more iCloud storage Is It Finally Time to Buy More iCloud Storage? Is It Finally Time to Buy More iCloud Storage? Now that iCloud storage costs considerably less than it used to, it might be time to upgrade beyond 5GB. Read More is even starting to look like a good option.

Nevertheless, no two people have the same computing needs. If you need to keep files on your person, you won’t go far wrong with these six apps and gadgets.

Which apps do you use when you need to use your iPhone as an external hard drive? As always, you can leave your tips and recommendations in the comments below.

Image credit: Apple Lightning to USB Cable (Richard Unten)

Original article by Damien Oh.

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