Ask Techerator: Can I copy photos from my iPad to an external hard drive?

As the popularity of Apple’s mobile devices like the iPad continues to increase, consumers are looking at ways to replace their personal computers for an iPad. This frequently raises a question: Is there a way to connect an external drive to the iPad to transfer photos?

The short answer is no you cannot directly connect an external drive to your iPad; however, I have listed some alternatives below.

Option 1: Syncing to computer

The easiest way to store photos from iPad to external drive is to transfer the files to your computer first. Before setting up syncing, make sure the latest version of iTunes is downloaded. You can change your sync options at any time.

How to sync via USB

  1. Connect the iOS device to your computer using a USB cable.
  2. For Mac users select iPhoto, on the left hand side you should see the iPad listed under device. To Import select the photos and select import.
  3.  On a Windows PC the autoplay window will pop up when the iPad is plugged in. Click “Import Pictures and Videos using Windows”. Select Import.
A few other ways to transfer photos to PC is by using iCloud or Dropbox.

Once all photos have been synced to your PC you can then plug-in your external hard drive to copy them over.

Option 2: Connecting to external hard drive

As mentioned above there is no direct connection between the iPad and external drive. However, currently on the market there are a few wi-fi drives that can be used in conjunction with the iPad.

Kingston Wi-Drive

Image Credit: Kingston

As an external hard drive, the Kingston Wi-Drive supports both PCs and Macs and iPad’s out of the box, but its performance is about the same as a USB flash drive. The downfall is that it is about $60 for only 32 GB of storage.

Access to the drive is done over the 802.11 g/n protocol, just like your typical home wireless hub and can be shared with 2 people. This device is a great way to add storage to your iPad, but with the small amount of storage it is not a great long-term storage option.

Seagate GoFlex Satellite

If you are looking to transfer our photos from iPad to eternal drive without using a PC, then the Seagate GoFlex Satellite  is the best option. It has a built-in wireless-N access point (with a 150 ft range), to which up to three wireless devices can connect.

For the best experience you will need to download the iPad app Go Flex Media. The app can also download selected content from the GoFlex Satellite drive onto the iPad so that you can access them without having to use the drive, or when the drive is out of battery. The downloaded content can only be played and viewed via the GoFlex Media app, it can’t be integrated into the iPad’s library.

Image Credit: Seagate

The GoFlex comes with 500GB of storage space for about $160, which is more expensive than the Kingston drive, but offers a substantial more storage space.


While you cannot directly attach an external drive to the iPad to copy photos, you do have a few options to perform this task. If you have a better method of getting photos over to an external drive feel free to leave a comment below!



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4 responses to “Ask Techerator: Can I copy photos from my iPad to an external hard drive?”

  1.  Avatar

    I’m surprised no has mentioned the CopyTrans line of software. Sure you have to pay for it, but it’s a nice alternative.

    Recently, I had to pull pics & music from an ipad & ipod nano, but the pc they were synced to was out of commission. So syncing those two devices to a new pc wasn’t an option, since they would be wiped clean via itunes. So, I purchased a couple of apps through CopyTrans and was able to copy all music/photos/vids from those two devices without having to wipe them first. From there, it could be backed up, & then the two devices could’ve been synced to a new pc, if I wanted to do so.

    I’m not paid by this company to say this either. Just a person fed up with syncing idevices across multiple pc’s, that’s all.

  2. Mick Avatar

    Seagates satellite does not allow transfer from the ipad!

  3. bairday Avatar

    The FonePaw iOS Transfer can help you to transfer data from iPad/iPhone to an external hard drive. Including photos, messages, contacts, call logs etc, you can transfer them without iTunes. And it’s easy to use, just need simple steps.

    1. bairday Avatar

      And here is a tutorial about quick way to transfer photos from iPhone to external hard drive.

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