With iOS 13 (iPadOS), your iPad now supports external drive support. This means you can plug in an external drive on your iOS device (via a lightening to USB dongle) and start managing files that are on there: SD cards, thumb drives, … will all work.
Managing the USB flash drive
The default built-in app on iPadOS to manage files that are stored on external USB storage devices, is the Files app. Via the Files app, you can easily copy files from the USB thumb drive and copy it over to your iPad, such as photos and videos. Now iTunes has been decommissioned by Apple, you can also use transfer videos to iPad without iTunes.
Safely ejecting an external drive from iPad
Apple does not give an option to safely remove an external drive from the iPad. This is different than in Windows for example, where it is always a good idea to safely eject an external storage device from the system.
Given Apple doesn’t offer the possibility to safely remove an external drive from iPad running iPadOS, it’s up to you to play safe. Before removing the device from your iPad, here are a number of things to check or actions to take:
- No data transfers should be ongoing. If you are copying files from or to the iPad, you should most definitely not disconnect the device as it may corrupt the drive and cause data loss.
- Manually close the Files app. By doing so, you are more sure that any interaction between your iPad and the external drive is discountinued.
- If you are using a thumb drive that has a LED indicator, it may be a good idea to check if the LED is blinking. If it is indeed blinking, this may indicate it is busy: it is being consulted or files are being written to it.
- Last option – and the most secure – is to fully turn of your iPad before ejecting the external drive. This way, you are completely sure the hard drive plugged in is fully disconnected.
However, it should be noted that unless you are actively using the external drive (copying files), it should be no problem to disconnect that device without hesitation.