The New IPad Air

A new iPad Air is to be released next month. Can someone please be so kind as to let me know if I’ll just be able to plug an external hard drive right in?

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Hi Katie,

Assuming it follows the same route as the iPad Pro (no reason it shouldn’t), yes its a USBc connection so you either need the right cable or an adapter but it should be visible for the system when plugged in and you can transfer files etc in the files app.


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Thanks ever so much, Ethan!

Like @Ethan9482, I assume that the new iPad Air is similar to iPad Pro in terms of USB-C connection. I can confirm that a Samsung T5 and a T7 SSD work very well with my 2020 iPad Pro and my granddaughter’s 2018 iPad Pro with a T5 SSD.

The same might not be true for a spinning “portable” HDD, however, because of the power draw of the HDD. A spinning HDD might work using an adapter that has an extra USB port for power. Alternately, a spinning HDD with it’s own external power might work, but I have no experience with this.


You know, Arthur, the hard drives are about nine years old. One looks fairly modern and the the other one not as much. I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for, although sales are great, so they are likely pretty good hard drives. I have no idea about the spinning though.

I just want to get into Time Machine back up for the photos.

I would just love to get a IPad Pro but they are a bit high for me.

I do have an iPad Air 3 that I bought about 6 months ago and I just love it. Maybe upgrading there might be worth it! I’d need a new pencil though. ;o)

You know, I did buy a hub someone recommended. Could I use that? (I can’t read your message as I write.)

So the use of a hub would probably be needed to convert usb a to usb c given the age of the drives.

It’s likely they are spinning / mechanical (it refers to the way they function underneath) so the power element may come into play. The hub that you have may have a space for power also, which would overcome that issue.

However… you mentioned there that you want to get into time machine backup, that can’t be done on iPad as far as I know. It’s a different operating system. You would need to access the backup on a Mac, pull the photos out and onto the drive and then you could access them as photos.

Apologies if I have misunderstood what you are planning but definitely something to be aware of.

I agree with @Ethan9482 - you may need a USB hub, but also an Apple Lightning to USB3 Camera Adapter. If I understand your post correctly, the above two items should work to connect your iPad Air 3 to a HDD, or you may need only the adapter - see below. My comments below apply to your iPad Air3. If you upgraded to the just-announced new iPad Air, the connectors would be different. There is no need for an iPad Pro, in my opinion - your 6-month-old iPad Air 3 or the newest iPad Air should work fine.

This is the Apple adapter for your iPad Air3:

Link to above: Apple Lightning to USB3 Camera Adapter

This link from Apple Support is the definitive help source:
Apple support article - connect external drive to iPad

The above adapter allows connection of your iPad Air 3 Lightning Port to two USB connections, one of which could be a power source. One of the two ports in the adapter (the larger USB “A” port, on the left in the picture) could connect to your HDD. The smaller USB-C port would connect to power - you may need to connect this to a USB hub as @Ethan9482 suggested and then connect that to a charger, or you may connect the Apple adapter directly to a USB-C charger/cable without the need for a hub.

I would emphasize that this is only one way to do this. If you bought a new USB-3 SSD that connects to the USB-C connector, your power charger could then connect to the USB “A” connector in the Apple adapter. There are probably other 3rd-party adapters that are effectively “hubs”, with two standard USB “A” type connectors, or maybe a 3rd-party hub that would allow connection to your iPad Air3 lightning port.

I apologize for the apparent complexity of this explanation - We are in a state of flux with Apple’s changeover from Lightning to USB-C ports for connection to external devices.

There is another consideration - You mentioned that your HDD is 9 years old. Does it have a USB-3 connection? USB3 is preferred since it is much faster than the older USB2. Your 9 y/o HDD might be USB2, not USB3 (same physical connector, just a difference in speed). You might consider purchase of a new 500 GB or 1TB SSD that connects to USB-C. A 500GB Samsung T7 SSD, for example, is only $79 now. A 1TB Samsung T5 SSD is $139.

Hope this helps!

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