Best flash drives for backing up your iPhone in 2024: USB-C, Lightning and every other storage connection you might need

Sure, the best iPhones have more and more storage capacity squeezed into their SSDs. But with higher quality photos, high resolution video capture, and advanced apps and games demanding more and more iPhone storage space, you can quickly fill up even the largest of iPhones.

While backing up your iPhone to an iCloud account is always advisable, it can prove costly for larger devices and image libraries. And should that account ever become compromised, you may lose out on even your cloud-stored backups. So a local backup to physical media is always a recommended secondary security step — and often the cheapest way to make sure your data is stored off-device somewhere you can trust.

The best flash drives for iPhone offer large capacities for backing up your most important files and photos, have multiple handy connectivity methods, from Lighting ports to USB-C connections, and come in compact form factors to make storing them away a breeze. With fast read and write speeds, the best iPhone USB sticks also tend to get the job done more quickly than web-based uploads, and can come in some funky designs to complement your personal style.

We've been testing USB storage devices for iPhone for years. Whether you've got an older iPhone with a Lightning port or a new iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max with USB-C connection, there's a cherry-picked iPhone drive for you right here.

Best flash drives to back up your iPhone

Find the best flash drive for your iPhone

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While some users might still prefer to rely solely on iCloud, there's never any harm in also using physical storage such as a flash drive with your iPhone to keep its files safely backed up. You could always AirDrop files to your Mac once you run out of space, but sometimes AirDrop has a tough time with bigger files or many files at once. Similarly, you could use one of the best cloud storage apps to store your files off device, but that can take a while depending on internet speeds, and usually requires an ongoing subscription cost to keep the service ticking. 

For a physical solution, we're fans of the SanDisk 256GB Ultra Dual Drive Go USB Type-C because of its fair price, and compact, colorful design.

If you need to multitask with many types of device, or have a ton of data to back up, we'd suggest the PioData iXFlash series. With a Lightning port on one end and a USB-C connection on the other, you'll easily be able to move entire generations of iPhone back-up files from older devices to another — capacities of 1TB mean only the very, very largest iPhones can't be backed up in full. It's a great — if pricey — option.

If you're worried about longevity -- don't be. Reports suggest that the average flash drive for an iPhone can last from 10,000 to 100,000 write cycles. That means you won't have to worry about replacing it for a while to come.

Does my iPhone 15 need a Lightning drive?

No, you've got a USB-C port! That means you can plug in any normal USB-C storage drive, and use an iPhone's Files app to move around any data or images that you'd like between the stick and the phone with ease. Note that many of our choices above come with their own apps to make the backup process easier — but you can do everything yourself with Apple's own tools.

Which iPhones need Lightning drives?

From the iPhone 14 and below, Apple still used the Lightning connector. That means you need a drive with Apple's proprietary port to be able to move your data to devices from those handsets. Thankfully, many of the above drives have multiple connectivity inputs, meaning that if you eventually upgrade to a different iPhone device, you'll still be able to use the drive with newer devices, plus computers, tablets and any other device that makes use of USB-A or USB-C connections.

Gerald Lynch
Editor in Chief

Gerald Lynch is the Editor-in-Chief of iMore, keeping careful watch over the site's editorial output and commercial campaigns, ensuring iMore delivers the in-depth, accurate and timely Apple content its readership deservedly expects. You'll never see him without his iPad Pro, and he loves gaming sessions with his buddies via Apple Arcade on his iPhone 15 Pro, but don't expect him to play with you at home unless your Apple TV is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. 

Living in London in the UK, Gerald was previously Editor of Gizmodo UK, and Executive Editor of TechRadar, and has covered international trade shows including Apple's WWDC, MWC, CES and IFA. If it has an acronym and an app, he's probably been there, on the front lines reporting on the latest tech innovations. Gerald is also a contributing tech pundit for BBC Radio and has written for various other publications, including T3 magazine, GamesRadar,, Real Homes, MacFormat, music bible DIY, Tech Digest, TopTenReviews,, Brandish, Kotaku, Shiny Shiny and Lifehacker. Gerald is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press, and also holds a Guinness world record on Tetris. For real.