How to Expand the Storage on Your iPad

Need more space on your iPad? No problem!

Woman drinking a coffee and using an ipad

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One disadvantage of the iPad is the lack of an easy way to expand your storage. The iPad doesn't support microSD cards, and without a USB port (or a universal file system), you can't plug in a flash drive. In the early days, 16 GB was a lot of storage, especially if you didn't need your entire movie collection on the iPad, but as the iPad gets more powerful, the apps get bigger. Here are some tips to create more storage on your iPad.

Cloud Storage

You can't expand the storage on your iPad for apps, but you can for almost everything else, which should leave plenty of room for apps.

Cloud storage is a great way to store documents, photos, and videos. The iPad comes with iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library, but you can also use a third-party service such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Cloud storage uses the internet as a second hard drive. It uses the storage space from an external location for your storage needs. Most cloud storage solutions also offer some free space to get you started.

The best part about cloud storage is that it is disaster-proof. No matter what happens to your iPad, the files that are stored online will still be there. Even if you lose your iPad and have to replace it, you'll be able to access your data.

The best use of cloud storage is photos and especially videos. This type of media takes up a surprising amount of space, so cleaning out a photo collection and moving it to the cloud can free up several gigabytes of storage.

Stream Your Music and Movies

Music and movies also take up space on an iPad, which is why it's better to stream them instead of store them. If you own digital movies on iTunes, stream them directly to your iPad with the TV app without downloading them. The TV app works with most streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video.

Multiple services will stream your music collection. The easiest solution is to sign up for iTunes Match, which analyzes an iTunes collection and streams the music to iOS devices. It even supports songs that weren't purchased on iTunes.

iTunes Match is compatible with iTunes 10.5.2 and later.

The iTunes Match service charges an annual fee. If you don't plan on leaving home with your iPad, though, home sharing lets you do the same thing for free. The home sharing feature uses a PC for storage and streams both music and movies to an iPad.

You can also sign up for a subscription service such as Apple Music, Spotify, or Amazon Prime Music. These apps stream music to the iPad and provide access to an entire library of music in the same way that Netflix provides access to a library of videos.

Pandora is another popular service for streaming music. You can't select specific songs to play, but you can set up a custom radio station by seeding it with your favorite artists.

External Hard Drive

The traditional way of expanding storage is to add another hard drive to the mix. But the iPad doesn't work with conventional USB external drives. Instead, use an external hard drive that includes a Wi-Fi adapter so that the iPad can communicate with the drive through a secured wireless connection. These drives give the iPad access to your entire media collection, whether you are in the house or away from home. Most of these drives support uploading photos, videos, and documents so you can trim space from your iPad.

When choosing an external hard drive, make sure it works with the iPad. Compatible drives include a free app that enables the iPad to communicate with the hardware.

Check the packaging for accessories to make sure they're compatible with your current version of iOS.

Flash Storage

If you have an older iPad model, you can't hook a flash drive into it like you would a PC or laptop. But if your iPad uses a Lightning port for charging and syncing, plug-and-use external storage units are available. These can expand the storage on the iPad to several times its basic size, leaving more room for photos, videos, and movies you've purchased.

Lightning connectors are available on 4th-generation iPads and later.

You can also buy a wireless flash drive that works similarly to the full-sized external hard drives. Wireless flash drives are portable and each one can be dedicated to a different purpose (for example, a separate drive for photos and one for movies) without taking up a lot of space in a backpack or laptop bag. They also allow for easier transfer of documents between multiple computers at multiple locations, so they can be ideal for a business solution.