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 to being an iPad user is the lack of an easy way to expand your storage. The iPad doesn't support microSD cards, and without a USB port (or even a universal file system), you can't just plug in a run-of-the-mill 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 open up 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 your 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 like 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 own storage needs. Most cloud storage solutions also offer a bit of free space to help you get started. 

The best part about cloud storage is that it is disaster-proof. No matter what happens to your iPad, the files you have 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. They can take up a surprising amount of space, so simply cleaning out your photo collection and moving it to the cloud can end up freeing up a decent chunk of storage.  

Stream Your Music and Movies

Music and movies can also take up a lot of space on your iPad, which is why it is good to stream them instead of store them. If you own digital movies on iTunes, you can stream them directly to your iPad via the TV app without downloading them. The TV app works with most streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video.

Multiple services will stream your music collection. The easiest solution is to sign up for iTunes Match, which will analyze your iTunes collection and allow you to stream all of your music to all of your iOS devices. It even supports songs you didn't buy 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 your PC for storage and streams both music and movies to your iPad. 

You can also sign up for a subscription service like Apple Music, Spotify, or Amazon Prime Music. These apps will not only allow you to stream music to your iPad, but it also gives you access to an entire library of music in the same way that Netflix gives you access to a library of videos. 

Pandora is another popular service for streaming music. It doesn't let you 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 most traditional way of expanding storage is to add another hard drive to the mix. But the iPad complicates this by not working with conventional USB external drives. However, you can get an external hard drive that includes a Wi-Fi adapter so that the iPad can communicate with them through a secured wireless connection. These drives can be a great way to give your 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 picking out an external hard drive, it's important to make sure it works with the iPad. Compatible drives will include a free app that lets the iPad 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, simple, plug-and-use external storage units are available. These can expand the storage on your iPad to several times its basic size, leaving you with 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. But these are more portable and let you dedicate each one to a different purpose (like a separate drive for photos and one for movies) without taking up a lot of space in your backpack or laptop bag. They also allow for easier transferring of documents between multiple computers at multiple locations, so they can be ideal for a business solution.