One of the best and classic features of the iPod is the ability to use it as a virtual drive, plugging them in any PC/Mac and transfer files to/from the device. iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch do not have this feature built-in, but a few alternative solutions should let you use your iOS device as a virtual USB/external hard drive.
1. iTools (Windows/Mac)
iTools is a Mac/Windows application that besides acting as an iTunes replacement program, allows you to use its “External Hard Drive” option to turn your iPhone/iPad into an external hard drive. Once you’ve installed the app and connected your iOS device to it, select the “External Hard Drive” or “Storage” option present in the right-hand sidebar.
You’ll then notice that iTools will have already created a folder named “Removable hard disk”. You can place your files in this folder (using drag-and-drop files or click the “Import” button at the top of the window) and they will be transferred over to your device.
One limitation is that you’ll need to install iTools on every PC/Mac you want to connect to your mobile device. That’s a downside, but still, this is a useful app.
2. iPhoneXDrive (Windows)
iPhoneXDrive is a Windows software that lets you use your iPhone/iPad as an external hard drive. The app is lightweight and will start working as soon as you plug in your iOS device into your PC.
According to the developers, iPhoneXDrive supported the following file formats: pdf, zip, rar, txt, doc, psd, ai, eps, gif, ppt, xml, jpeg, avi, exe, png, xlsx, docx.
Like iTools, you will need to have an iPhoneXDrive installed in every PC you want to transfer your data/files into
3. Briefcase Pro/Lite (iPhone,)
Briefcase (Pro/Lite) is an iOS app that supports file importing from your iOS device’s camera, email, Dropbox, Google Drive and the sort. You can also view multiple types of files such as PDFs, Office docs, iWork type docs etc., whether shared from your Mac/PC or from your iOS device. You can password protect the apps so others don’t see sensitive info, or even share files directly to cloud services like Dropbox.
I particularly liked the app’s Wi-Fi sharing feature, which let me first add a file to the app’s virtual disk, then access this “virtual disk” using my Mac by entering an IP address in my website’s site bar.
Briefcase Pro is available for free in the App Store for a limited time, so be sure to check it out.
RoqyUSB is a jailbreak utility that allows users to create virtual hard disks on their iOS devices which can be accessed by USB. This isn’t the first virtual USB drive available in Cydia, but it’s the only one that we’ve seen till date present in a default repository. The app creates a kind of partition on your iOS device, in which you can store different type of files, which cannot be accessed by other apps.
The free version of the app lets you create only a 128 MB hard disk, which is kind of disappointing. The full version costs a little under $7, and if you’re going to be frequently using your iOS device as a virtual hard drive, you should consider checking RoqyUSB out.
RoqyUSB is available in the ModMyi repo for free, while the Pro version costs €5, which allows you to allocate as much space as you would like to this “virtual disk drive”.
iOS devices aren’t really meant to be used as USB drives, they’re meant for browsing the net, listening to music, playing games, watching movies and the sort. But if you’re looking to replace your USB drive or external hard drive with your iPhone/iPad, you can consider trying these apps to help you get started.