A shared network drive or cloud server can solve the storage limitation problem experienced by some iPad users -- those whose photo, video and music libraries have outgrown the device's built-in memory. The iPad accesses the local drive or cloud account through custom software that detects and links to the external storage solution automatically. You can view photos and stream movies directly from the storage device or move media files between it and the iPad.
Shared Network Drive
A shared network drive is a local storage device that connects to a Wi-Fi data network for the purpose of sharing files with PCs, smartphones and tablets. The network drive has no display or keyboard of its own; you set it up using a computer already on your network. To use the drive with an iPad, you need an app that acts as a traffic manager, shuttling data between the drive and iPad. Depending on the model, the shared drive may have a hard disk drive or removable or fixed flash data storage.
Shared Drive Models
Several vendors offer packaged hardware and software solutions for iPad owners who want to increase their storage. For example, the IOGEAR MediaShair Wireless Media Hub offers shared data space for up to seven iOS devices. It has no built-in hard drive or other storage, however; you add data space by plugging external drives or flash memory media cards into the device. Kingston's MobileLite Wireless G2 works in a similar way, acting as a data hub to which you connect Secure Digital cards and USB hard drives. The Seagate Wireless stores data on its own internal hard drive, with models that range from 500GB to 2TB.
A cloud storage account provides many of the same benefits as a shared network drive, with two main differences: Because you access a cloud account over the Internet, you can use it nearly anywhere, and you can increase the storage space by paying a monthly subscription fee. In addition to Apple's iCloud, which is built in to iOS, Amazon, DropBox and other companies offer cloud storage services for iPad users.
For users who already have a shared network drive or cloud account, file-management apps let your iPad tap into these resources. Examples include FileMaster, FileBrowser Lite and Remote File Browser Pro, all of which are available through Apple's App store. The apps help you organize your shared storage resources and let you access and move data across your Wi-Fi network.