If your iPad has already hit the storage ceiling, then it’s worth considering external storage options. Wouldn’t it be nice to offload all of your home videos, films, tv episodes, photos, magazines, etc to a small external hard drive and then connect your iPad to it whenever you wanted?
Unfortunately, things arenat ‘s straightforward as they should be.
Here is our guide to iPad external hard drives… fashioned as a Q&A.
Can I use an external hard drive with my iPad?
- No. At least not one of the bog standard usb external hard drives that you have lying around.
…Even with the Apple Camera Connection Kit’s 30-pin to USB adapter?
- No. Firstly, the iPad does not offer the power over USB required by such a hard drive. Secondly, the iPad drivers don’t support external hard drives.
There are, of course, hacks that get around this problem. For instance, check out the Hyperdrive for iPad.
The Apple Camera Connection Kit is designed to allow you to connect either your camera flash memory directly to the iPad (with the 30-pin to SD Card adapter), or to connect your camera via USB (with the 30-pin to USB adapter).
Can I store videos/photos/etc on an SD Card using the Apple Camera Connection Kit?
- Yes and No. First, the SD Card must be 16GB or less. Secondly, it must be formatted in a very specific way which is not only irritating but not very user-friendly. Finally, the iPad cannot play files directly from the SD Card but must import them from the card to the iPad first… then play them. This is time-consuming and annoying.
Here is what you must do to make the SD Card work with an iPad:
1 – format the SD card as FAT32 (nothing else will work!)
2 – Create a root directory called, DCIM, then a subdirectory 100SANYO
3 – put your photo/video files into the 100SANYO directory
4 – format your videos using Handbrake (Handbrake has predefined settings for iPad) – they must conform exactly to the H.264-compliant settings that the iPad expects, or it will reject them!
5 – rename your files using the following pattern: videos as “MVI_0001″ and for photos “DSC_0001″… and so on
6 – save a file in the root folder that provides a key to map the stupid MVI/DSC file names to what’s in them, so you don’t get confused when you want to watch something
Now, when you wish to watch a new video on the iPad, plug your SD card into the iPad Apple Camera Connection Kit. You will then be able to go into your ‘Photos’ App and see the videos on the SD card. You need to import the ones you want to the iPad before they will play.
What about Special iPad External Hard Drives?
Thankfully, there are vendors who have released specially designed external hard drives for iPad.
[We will keep these up-to-date as and when products arrive, so feel free to bookmark this page.]
Here are a few external hard drives for iPad that we have come across:
You will notice that the majority of these iPad external hard drives are WiFi external hard drives. Persumably, this is to get around the weird restrictions that Apple has imposed with its Apple Camera Connection Kit (see above; also read about some of its shortcomings here and, also, here).
A couple of caveats:
- these WiFi drives are battery powered. You will need to remember to recharge them and they may only last a couple of hours on a charge.
- the functionality of these drives is limited by the Apps that you must run on the iPad in order to stream and view content from them. You may find that not all video/photo formats are supported and that you will still need to store data in iPad-friendly formats and codecs.
- some of these drives allow several people to connect to them at once. This should be considered a standard feature when purchasing. However, you will need to be mindful of security settings now that they are broadcasting their presence to other wireless networks.