How to Expand the Storage on Your iPad

Need More Space on Your iPad? No Problem...

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If there is one big disadvantage for life with an iPad it is the lack of an easy way to expand your storage.  The iPad doesn't support Micro SD cards, and without a true USB port (or even a true universal file system), you cannot 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.

 In fact, some games are now approaching the 2 GB mark.  So how do you get more storage?  

Cloud Storage

The unfortunate truth is that there is no way to expand storage for apps.  But you can expand storage for almost everything else, which should leave plenty of room for your apps, especially if you don't use the iPad as a game console.   Games are by far the biggest apps on the app store, but other apps can certainly get chunky.   

Cloud storage is a great way to store documents, photos, and videos.   The iPad comes with iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library, but they aren't quite as eloquent as other solutions.  The best recommendation is to move to a service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Cloud storage uses the Internet as a second hard drive. While "the Cloud" can sometimes sound like a magical place, remember, the entire Internet is really just a set of computers connected together. Basically, cloud storage is using the hard drive storage space from an external location like Google or Dropbox 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, you'll still have any files transferred to the cloud. So you could lose your iPad and still retain your files. This is why iCloud makes such a good backup location and why other cloud services make a great way to expand your storage.

The best use for 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.   

How to Set Up Dropbox on Your iPad

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 Videos app without downloading them.   This is true with most digital video services like Amazon Instant Video.   

There are multiple options for streaming 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. This includes music you didn't buy on iTunes. How to Turn On iTunes Match

The iTunes Match service is $24.99 a year, which is a steal for what it offers, but if you don't plan on leaving the home with your iPad, there's a free way to do the same thing: home sharing.  The home sharing feature uses your PC for storage and streams both music and movies to your iPad.

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How to Set Up Home Sharing on Your iPad.

You can also sign up for a subscription service like Apple Music, Spotify or Amazon Prime Music.  This 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.  

And don't forget about Pandora. While you cannot select specific songs to play, you can set up a custom radio station by seeding it with your favorite artists.  This will give you similar-sounding songs and help you discover new music.  

External Hard Drive

The most traditional way of expanding storage is to simply add another hard drive to the mix.

But the iPad complicates this by not working with conventional USB external drives. However, there are a number of external hard drives that include a Wi-Fi adapter so that the iPad can communicate with them through a secured Wi-Fi 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. And most of these drives support uploading photos, videos, and documents, so you can trim space from your iPad while saving space by not weighing it down with all of your music and movies.

When picking out an external hard drive, it is important to make sure it works with the iPad. These drives will include a free app that allows the iPad to communicate with the external drive.

The Best External Hard Drives for the iPad

Flash Storage

Think Flash drives don't work with the iPad? Think again. While you can't simply hook a Flash drive into an iPad and using a go-between like a camera connection kit won't work either, companies like AirStash have created a solution that utilizes Wi-Fi in the same way as some external drive. These adapters aren't storage devices by themselves; you will still need to buy an SD card. But the versatility of these adapters allows you to buy multiple Flash drives, tailoring the amount of space to your needs. They also allow for easier transferring of documents between multiple computers at multiple locations, so they can be ideal for a business solution.

Read More: How to Save Space on Your iPad

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