Storage Options for the iPad

computer storage

The lack of expandable storage is a problem with an iPad. Whether it be pictures and video taken with the iPad itself or music and movies from a personal collection, the 16 and 32 GB models can become cramped quite quickly, and the 64 Gb and 128 GB models can be quite expensive. Luckily, there are a few solutions for expanding and managing the storage on your iPad before you lash out on a new one.


Syncing with a computer

Media and documents are either stored locally on your iPad or you are accessing them from the internet or streaming it from the internet or your home network. Your laptop or desktop PC remains one of the best ways to keep your iPad lean so long as you still actually own a PC. You can save media and documents on your iPad in two different ways: Copy movies, TV shows, music and movies to and from your computer to the iPad, and using Home Sharing to stream your media from your computer's iTunes library to your iPad.


Copy photos and videos to your PC and remove them from your iPad

You can use iTunes or an app like PhotoTransfer to copy photos and video to your iPad. See Syncing the iPad to iTunes.  If you use this method, the media will be saved physically to your iPad and therefore be stored locally. You won't need an internet connection or wi-fi network to see your media. However, you will need to keep track of your usage. Settings / General / Usage. When you want to delete the media from your iPad, sync it again with iTunes. The original media should be located on your hard drive in your iTunes folder. (Generally, this is found in your Music folder). Video is played in the Videos app; Music in the Music app.


Use iTunes to sync TV shows, Movies, Music and Photos to and from your iPad

Use iTunes to sync TV shows, Movies, Music and Photos to and from your iPad


Turn on Home Sharing to stream music and movies to your iPad.

Home sharing is great for an iPad that rarely leaves the house. The ability to stream your movies and TV Shows means you don't need to waste that precious iPad storage space on your media collection.You stream a movie from your iTunes library and any mobile device that is configured can see that movie. It is never downloaded to your iPad ... it remains on the computer. Home Sharing is also relatively easy to accomplish. Home sharing is a feature of iTunes, and once you turn it on in iTunes for your PC, you should see it show up in the Music and Videos apps on your iPad. See Streaming Media for some ideas on how to use this for your iPad.

Remember: to stream media, you must be connected to your wireless network and the computer which hosts the iTunes library needs to be turned ON.


There are three steps in setting up Home Sharing.

  1. Turn on Home Sharing in iTunes on the computer that has the iTunes library running.
  2. Decide what you want to share. Your entire library or specific folders
  3. Turn on home sharing on the iPad.


1. Turn on Home sharing in iTunes

The first step to sharing music between iTunes and the iPad is turning on iTunes Home Sharing. This is actually quite simple, and once you have gone through the steps to turning on Home Sharing, you'll wonder why you didn't always have it turned on.

  • Launch iTunes on your PC or Mac.
  • U nder the File menu item, choose Turn On Home Sharing
Turn on Home sharing in iTunes

Turn on Home sharing in iTunes

  • You'll be presented with a screen similar to the one pictured below. Simply type in your Apple ID and your password, click "Turn on Home Sharing" and you'll be ready to start sharing music and movies with your iPad, iPhone or any other iOS device.
turn on home sharing in itunes
  • Once you've turned on Home Sharing, any other computers with iTunes Home Sharing turned on will show up in the left-side menu in iTunes. They will appear right under your connected devices.
  • Remember: Only computers and devices connected to your home network will be eligible for home sharing. If you have a computer not connected to the network, you will be unable to use it for Home Sharing.


2.    What do you want to share? 

  • You can share your entire library to anyone in your home network or just some folders. you can also require a password. In iTunes, got to Preferences, Sharing. On the MAC, you will find this in the iTunes menu.
What do you want to share?

What do you want to share?

3. Turn on Home sharing on the iPad

Once you have iPad Home Sharing working, you can share music, movies, podcasts and audiobooks. This means you can get access to your entire music and movie collection without taking up valuable space on your iPad. Go into your iPad's settings by touching the Settings icon.

On the left-hand side of the screen is the list of options. Scroll down until you see either Videos or Music. Simply type in your Apple ID and password just as you did to set up iTunes home sharing.

home sharing in ipad
videos shared tab on ipad

You can now share your music and movies from your PC or laptop to your iPad. Open either the videos App or the Music app and you will see a Shared tab.   Simply select the shared library and you will see all the media available to be shared from that library. Locate the movie / TV Show and it will play in your iPad.

Remember: You'll need to have your iPad and your computer connected to your Wi-Fi network to use iTunes Home Sharing.


Cloud Storage

cloud services

 The Cloud is essentially an online data-storage location. Instead of keeping your files on the hard drive of your computer, you can store them on a remote server and access them online.

Remember, the entire Internet is really just a set of computers connected together. Cloud storage is using the hard drive storage space from an external location like Google or Dropbox for your own storage needs.You typically have to pay a fee for this service, which can vary depending on how much storage you use. However, there are also a number of free cloud services which offer you plenty of storage. They also offer iPad apps to access your data and media.

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. 


Dropbox is the online storage and syncing service that most competitors are compared to. This is thanks to Dropbox being one of the earliest services of its kind, its simple syncing, integration with lots of third-party apps, and numerous ways to rack up extra free space. However, if you don't get extra free space using referral tricks, the paid plans are among the most expensive offered.

The Dropbox application installs a "My Dropbox" folder on your (PC, Mac, or Linux) computer where you place files you want synced; repeat the quick installation on each of your computers and all file changes in that folder are automatically synced with each device, as well as on the Dropbox website. You can also access your files on a mobile phone / iPad / Tablet  using a dedicated app. 

 2 GB free storage, and initial 100GB storage upgrade for $9.99.

Google Drive  offers unique features like integration with Google Docs and Google+, as well as optical character recognition (OCR) of your scanned documents. The integration with Google Docs means you can edit and create doc files from within Google Drive. Google Drive also has a huge max file size of 10GB. 

The first 15GB of storage remain free, but 100GB now costs just $1.99 per month instead of $4.99.Even more impressively, though, you can now get a terabyte of online storage for $9.99 a month.


Prices as at June 2014

Prices as at June 2014

Microsoft's OneDrive offers one of the most generous amounts of free space for new users: 15GB, and even more for existing Hotmail / Live users: 25GB. OneDrive offers unique in-browser creation and editing of Microsoft Office documents via Office Web Apps (no need to have the software on your desktop). Syncing OneDrive is as simple as Dropbox now, with one catchall OneDrive folder for all your files. Paid plans for extra storage space are also really cheap compared to the competition.

In addition, all consumer Office 365 subscribers will now receive 1TB of OneDrive storage. An Office 365 Home subscription, which can be shared by as many as five people, will give you 1TB per user.

Cloud Drive is Amazon's online storage service you can use to upload music, photos, personal videos and documents through Amazon's website interface. A key feature that separates Cloud Drive from other services is you can store an unlimited amount of MP3s on Cloud Drive without them counting towards your storage usage. Paid storage plans include unlimited space for music you upload (whether bought from Amazon or not). You can listen to your music anywhere with Amazon's Cloud Player online app.  5 gb free storage. 

The iPad app allows you to upload photos and videos. Turn Autosave ON and any new photo or video will be automatically backed up to the Cloud Drive.

Box (formerly Box.Net) is used by many businesses and professionals to securely store files online and share them, because of unique project collaboration features, content access controls, and easy file sharing (you can share files with just a link and entire folders of files, with updates of when users access your files). 5GB of free storage is available for personal or business use, but Box has run promotions in the past to increase that free storage space to a whopping 50GB.  


Perhaps the best way to back up and share photos and videos from your iPad without a computer is to use iCloud. Videos and photos you take with your iPad or iPhone can be automatically backed up using the Photo Sharing feature of Apple’s iCloud service. You get 5GB of iCloud storage for free. The best part is that these photos and videos don’t use any of that 5GB. There are some major changes coming to iCloud with iOS8 so for now, it's not really the  best option for storage.

Check out these links for more information.

iCloud: sync and Backup to the Cloud

Fix iCloud Backup

 Off Site backup solutions

A good backup serves a few purposes. It should help you recover from accidentally deleted files, a crashed hard drive, or something as serious as a site-wide catastrophe. But the only way to ensure that last one is to keep a backup offsite. Cloud storage is a great way to upload your files and use iPad apps to access those files. Off site backup, however, backs up your entire computer. Many of them have iPad apps which allow you to access your files.


Carbonite is a computer backup solution which will give you an "off site" backup solution (which I highly recommend having). This is more like having a safety deposit lock box at a bank for keeping copies of your important documents. The whole purpose of the safety deposit box is secured storage someplace other than your house. This is insurance against theft and disaster (fire/flood/earthquake). Price: $59.95 personal plan. Unlimited data on one computer.

Your files are backed up automatically and continually, as long as you’re connected to the Internet. With the cloud, your files go where you go, so you can access them anytime, anywhere. Airports, libraries, coffee shops - you name it. Make the most of your subscription by downloading our Sync & Share app, exclusively for our customers. If disaster (or spilled coffee) strikes, you can recover files from the cloud, in just a few clicks.

Five best online backup services (Lifehacker article)

iPad apps for cloud Services

Click each image for a direct link to the iTunes Store


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.  

The most useful type of drive is called a NAS drive: Network Attached Storage. Any external drive that can be connected to your wireless router using an ethernet cable (at gigabit speed - CAT 6 cable) will be available to all devices connected to your wireless network. This is a better option than connecting an external hard drive to a computer and sharing out all the files. If that computer is turned off, no device can access the files.


The Western Digital My Drive

Connect the drive to your wireless router to provide shared storage and wireless backup for all the PC and Mac computers on your home network. View your media collection on any screen. Whether you have a connected TV, smartphone, tablet or laptop, enjoy your content wherever you go.

Download the My Cloud app to access all your media and documents from your iPad. 

Seagate GoFlex Satellite 500GB WiFi USB3 Portable External Hard Drive

This device lets you take your media library with you on the go and stream it wirelessly to your iPad or Android tablet or your smartphone. Simply plug the Seagate Satellite device into your computer and load your media. Charge it up and you are ready to enjoy up to seven hours of continuous streaming

  • Take more than 300 HD films with you on the go
  • Stream media over Wi-Fi to eight devices at the same time
  • Sync media and documents automatically from your PC or Mac computer
  • Access and stream your media easily using the free iPad app or your device’s web browser

The Seagate Satellite mobile wireless storage device lets you stream three different HD movies to three different Wi-Fi enabled devices — all at the same time. Everyone in the family can have wireless access to the hundreds of movies you load on your Seagate Satellite mobile wireless storage device.  

Seagate Data Satellite data sheet - specs and features