How to extend the storage of your iPhone or iPad

Last updated on Aug 27, 2017

Until recently, the base models of both the iPhone and iPad had only 16GB of storage. In this article, I’ll show you how to easily extend the storage of your iPhone or iPad using what’s called mobile memory.

Apple’s storage strategy

When Apple released the iPhone 7, they finally bumped up the storage of the base model to 32GB. Shipping a device with merely 16GB of memory was getting a bit ridiculous, yet many users got stuck with such a limited storage option. Needless to say, if you wanted to take full advantage of Apple’s eco-system, 16GB was nowhere near enough memory for photos, music, videos and emails.

In the past, when someone asked me how to solve this storage problem, my ignorant answer would be “get a device with more memory next time“. I just never felt the pain of limited storage, because I was always fortunate enough to work for companies that supplied reasonably-sized devices.

Less-expensive option to extend the storage of your iPhone or iPad

If you are currently stuck with an iPhone or iPad that is running out of memory, there is, fortunately, a less-expensive option to extend the storage than buying a new device. Using so-called mobile memory, you can easily upgrade the storage capacity of your iPhone or iPad. Mobile storage is basically a flash-drive with a Lightning connector (in the case of an iDevice) on one end, and a USB connector on the other.

OLALA iDisk – Mobile Memory

OLALA recently reached out to me and asked if I was interested in reviewing some of their products, including their 64GB iDisk. I had never used mobile memory before because I had yet to run into any storage issues on my iDevices. But I decided to take a closer look at their products anyway for one main reason: Kids.

Children: Our reason to use mobile memory technology

Isabella is now old and spoiled enough to watch kids movies on the iPad when we travel by plane to Costa Rica or Austria. That’s her treat as she is not allowed to watch movies at home. My wife’s iPad, which Isabella pretty much takes ownership of during air travel, has only 64GB of internal storage. Filling the available storage up with kids movies is not an idea she would like to entertain, and that’s where the OLALA iDisk comes in handy.

Instead of synching the kids’ movies via iTunes to my wife’s iPad, I just have to connect the iDisk to my iMac and transfer the movies. Next time we are on a plane, I connect the iDisk to the iPad via the Lightning port, open the “iDisk me” app and Isabella can play any movie that’s stored on the iDisk.

Isabella’s favorite: Frozen

Other use cases for mobile memory

To be honest, I don’t have any other user cases for mobile memory. I know the OLALA iDisk can be used to store photos, videos, and music as well – or any other file types for that matter, but I rather rely on the Apple ecosystem for those cases. That means, all my photos and recorded videos go into iCloud Photo Library, all my music is in Apple Music, and all my files are either in Dropbox or iCloud Drive. That being said, I appreciate that other users have different requirements and may be able to use the iDisk for more than what I use it for.

How to use the iDisk

Using the iDisk is supposed to be straightforward.

  1. Plug it into your computer via USB port
  2. Copy files from computer to iDisk
  3. Download “iDisk me” app from App Store on your iPhone/iPad
  4. Plug iDisk into iPhone/iPad via Lightning connector
  5. Open app and access your files
iDisk me app

I ran into an issue at step 2, when Finder complained that the file size of one of my movies was too large for the iDisk. It turned out that the iDisk is formatted using a FAT32 file system, which has a limit of 4GB per file. So if you have movie files that are larger than 4GB, then you won’t be able to copy them onto the iDisk. I quickly fixed that issue by reformatting the iDisk via Disk Utility (macOS) to exFAT, which supports larger file sizes.

Reformat iDisk with exFAT using Disk Utility

Once fixed, I could copy all movies to the iDisk using Finder, and I was able to play them back using the “iDisk me” app on my iPhone. I would recommend to OLALA to change the default file system to exFAT to prevent other users from running into the same issue.


Mobile memory technology, like OLALA’s iDisk, offers an inexpensive alternative to upgrading the internal storage of your iDevice. The iDisk I tested was compact and light-weight enough to put into your pocket when you are on the road. Both my wife and I have devices with sufficient internal storage for everyday use, but the iDisk comes in real handy when traveling as we can store all the kids’ movies on it.

Michael Kummer

Atlanta | Austrian | Blogger | Father of a preemie | Paleo fan | Traveler | Amateur photographer | CrossFit

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