iPhone 15 Pro Backup without Internet in Antarctica

I am going on a cruise around Antarctica next month, and I don’t expect to have much/ any access to Internet. I have a 15 Pro Max & external SSD drives. I know how to backup individual photos to that drive (works great!), but I would like a more comprehensive solution to backup my iPhone to the drive.

I am not taking a Mac; is there a way to do full iPhone backups or at least Photo library backups directly to a hard drive?

TIA for any suggestions!

Not directly AFAIK…but you can select photos in Photos and the. Choose Export to Files and 8f you had an SSD or drive plugged in use that as the destination.


Exactly as @neil1 suggested:

I suspect that no edits and no metadata (apart from EXIF data in the original image itself) will be saved on the external drive.

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Yes, this method works (“Export Unmodified Originals”) and not too difficult to select by day/ week/ etc. I am still hoping for a backup solution for my Photos library, and maybe other things on my phone.

I just returned from a six-week trip to Nepal which involved trekking for 29 days along the Annapurna Circuit. I brought along the following:

I offload photos from my camera SD card to the iPhone every day. When the SD card is full, I copy the photos of the SD card to:

  • Another SD card
  • The Samsung T7 SSD

As I have iCloud Photos backup and was able to have pretty decent Internet connection at some villages, I was able to offload quite a number of photos in the library to the cloud. With this setup, I was able to have four copies of every photo: the original SD card, the duplicated SD card, the SSD and the iPhone photo library. I have taken 3,500 photos during the trip so, data wise, that is a pretty sizeable setup!

There are some caveats with this setup, and some lessons learned:

  • Ensure that the power supply is sufficient for all devices in the chain (especially the SSD); the iPhone 15 Pro can only supply 4.5W but some SSDs use more than 8W.
  • One corollary to the power situation is that external devices can drain the iPhone battery quickly; this applies even to the SD card reader. The 1Gbps transfer speed is very helpful in this respect.
  • Some buffer space may be required on the iPhone; the duplication of SD cards involves copying the content from the first SD card to the iPhone, then the iPhone to the second SD card, with the use of the Apple USB C SD card reader. In retrospect, I would have been much more comfortable with the 1TB storage option, although it seems excessive when I bought the 512GB phone.
  • Do not perform the backups when you are in a hurry, especially when it involves data transfer between storage devices. Also, not a good idea to make multiple copying operations simultaneously. I had the brilliant idea of performing backups to the SSD and SD card at the same time while having dinner in Thorong Phedi, at 4,500m altitude and just before crossing the pass (high point of the trek). The operations eventually failed and I unplugged the USB-C hub. That bricked my iPhone in that all apps stopped responding to touch input even though they are working in the background (my camera still receives geolocation information). Eventually the iPhone restarted itself while I was asleep and everything was fine. Otherwise, I would have no selfies on Thorong La, not from my phone anyway!

Hope this helps, and have a great trip!


Thank you for your reply, and your caveats! What a wonderful sounding trip!

For exactly that reason (and my previous bad experiences), I am avoiding using a hub for file transfers. I was thinking I would backup each day’s photos to an SSD, and every other day also back up to a different SSD. However, I’ve been testing, and the file transfer is so fast (yay!) that I think I will do daily backups to each drive. Then I will have my iPhone photos on the phone and two drives, at least until I run out of iPhone storage.


I think that is a great setup, and once tested at home it should work fine on the trip. iOS can offload unused apps, so that can recover additional space for storage.

When the phone storage is nearly full and I try to import photos, sometimes I received the note “iPhone requires xxMB of additional storage” or something to that effect. It helps by waiting for a while before trying again; in the meantime, iOS will attempt to offload unused apps and remove original copies of photos already uploaded to the cloud.

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Excellent configuration and write up!

Also, the tip about offloading unneeded apps is good because you can retain the data, but lose the bloated apps for things like GarageBand, Keynote or whatever you won’t need to use.


This is interesting because I would like to copy all my SD card images from the solar eclipse to an iPhone SE (3rd Gen) as a quick, on-site, backup.

In your experience does the SD → iPhone transfer RAW + JPEG at full resolution? Does it work on all SD cards?


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Has anybody tried a simple USB-C connection from iPhone to iPhone to see if one iPhone can export/import to/from the other?

The USB-C to SD card reader and Lightning to SD card reader do transfer RAW at full resolution - the Lightning version is significantly slower*, but it does work. I used the Sony SF-G Tough and Sandisk Extreme microSDXC with SD adapter, and they both work fine.

I think it will be good to try the setup before the trip to iron out any issues. (I would not have been aware of the power requirements if I had not evaluated the setup at home.)

*I used the Lightning version with my iPhone X for earlier trips and not this one to Nepal.


I purchased the Lightning-to-SD card reader yesterday—it was delivered today.

I tested it on three different SD cards–that is, from three different cameras–and it works as advertised importing JPEG and RAW images. It imports video from 2 of 3 cameras. The third uses a nested folder structure and I suspect that is why it does not see the video. ImageCapture has the same issue with this camera and card.

The card reader shows up in Settings–>General–>About but there are no settings or preferences.

Thanks for mentioning this device in the original post.

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