Using a Wi-Fi hard drive with an iPad
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: I have an iPad 2 and am looking for more hard drive space. I see Macally, Hyperdrive, Kingston, and others all offer Wi-Fi hard drive storage devices, but can they all store pictures, music, movies, and apps? I am in need of an external hard drive to add more of my apps, due to my iPad’s storage being too small. I would like to add more apps for entertainment and work! Please help, thanks greatly!
A: Unfortunately, due to the way that iOS works the storage is simply not directly expandable to any kind of external device such as a Wi-Fi hard drive or USB hard drive—at least not without resorting to jailbreaking based solutions.
The Wi-Fi storage options provided by companies such as Macally, Hyperdrive, Kingston, Seagate, and others don’t actually integrate directly with iOS; these devices work by offering a specific companion app that is used to access files on the external drive, and perform tasks such as playing back media files or transferring documents into other third-party apps that support the iOS “Open In” feature.
Some external drives also work as network storage (NAS) devices, in which case other third-party apps designed for accessing remote Windows or OS X servers can be used with these devices, but the capabilities are still extremely limited, providing only basic file access within these apps and data transfer into other apps.
For example, no external drive available for the iPad will allow you to access music files directly from the iPad “Music” app, or play videos within the iPad “Videos” app. Some of the wired options will allow you to transfer photos and videos into the “Photos” app, but they do this by presenting themselves to iOS simply as a camera, thereby taking advantage of the built-in features designed to work with the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit.
So the bottom line is that not only can you not use these external drives to store applications or any application data, but you can’t really even use them to store media content unless you’re willing to play that content only via the limited set of third-party apps that will work with these storage devices.
If you’re willing to go through the process of jailbreaking your device, there are apps and extensions available on the Cydia store and elsewhere in the jailbreak community that will provide the ability to use a directly connected USB hard drive to extend your storage. Note that this usually requires that you power the USB hard drive separately, as the iPad is not capable of providing sufficient output through the Dock or Lightning Connector for this.
Note that we do not normally recommend jailbreaking your device unless you are a technically experienced user who is clear as to what you are getting yourself into, as many of the hacks and system extensions available in the jailbreak community can affect your device’s performance and stability. Further, jailbreaking is not in any way supported by Apple, and in fact Apple will refuse to service a device in a jailbroken state.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- More details emerge on Apple Music overhaul
- iPhone tops Time’s list of most influential gadgets
- Kohl’s integrates rewards system with Apple Pay
- Apple hires ex-Nest exec to aid in health initiatives
- Apple loses exclusive ‘iPhone’ trademark in China
- Apple to reveal ‘sweeping changes’ to Apple Music interface at WWDC
- Apple releases fourth developer betas for iOS 9.3.2, tvOS 9.2.1
- Bowers & Wilkins acquired by EVA Automation
- India rejects Apple’s plan to sell used iPhones
- Rumor: Purported iPhone 7 component photo shows headphone jack intact
- August Doorbell Cam
- August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled + Smart Keypad
- ecobee3 HomeKit-enabled smart Wi-Fi thermostat
- Zagg Now Cam
- Yantouch EyE Portable Wireless Speaker
- Netatmo Wind Gauge
- Incipio Stashback for iPhone 6/6s
- Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt with HomeKit support
- ClamCase ClamCase Pro for iPad mini 4
- Brydge BrydgeMini II Keyboard for iPad mini 4
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)