Backing up iPhone without a computer

Q: If my iTunes library exists only on my iPhone, can I back the library up using a flash drive so in case my iPhone either craters or is lost/stolen, I will have a backup? Also can I sync an iPod that I am thinking about buying up to my iTunes library on my iPhone (similarly to the way one syncs their iPod to their laptop/computer)? That is the main thing I am wanting to know if I can sync an iPod to my iTunes library on my iPhone if that is the only place that the music exists? The library does not currently exist on any other device other than my iPhone. If not, will I have to buy a computer/laptop and copy my library from my iPhone to that PC and then be able to sync an iPod to the PC? I hope I haven’t confused you and will appreciate any information or suggestions you have.

– David

A: The short answer is no, this is not possible.

The only way to retrieve content from an iPhone or other other iOS device is over USB using a PC or Mac; there is no facility for connecting a flash drive to backup an iOS device, nor can you sync one iOS device with another.

When it’s released later this fall, iOS 5 and iCloud will provide some capabilities for backing up and syncing media without a PC, although these will be limited to backing up your settings and preferences specifically over-the-air and then using the iTunes Store catalogue to serve as a backup for your purchased music, apps and books, with music only available to users in the U.S. Backing up music that you’ve loaded from places other than the iTunes Store will require a subscription to Apple’s iTunes Match service and again will only be available in the U.S.

Note also that this doesn’t include other content such as movies and TV shows.

The bottom line is that your best option is to buy a computer or laptop to backup and sync your device with; even a relatively inexpensive netbook class computer should provide enough horsepower to create and manage a small iTunes library to backup your iPhone and sync content to other devices such as an iPod.