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My Picks for External Hard Drive for Procreate on iPad Pro (2024)

Iva Mikles
My Picks for External Hard Drive for Procreate on iPad Pro (2024)

Hey there!

Recently I’ve been asked by one of my students which portable external hard drive I recommend for Procreate. They didn’t want to back up their Procreate files to the cloud because of privacy concerns and because they were traveling and didn’t have access to reliable Wi-Fi.

So iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive were out of the question. They just wanted an external storage device that would allow them to have access to their Procreate artworks at any time.

In my 6+ years of drawing in Procreate, making classes and brushes, I’ve tried different ways of backing up my Procreate files, and when it comes to external storage, I recommend the following options:

Quick jump to: How Do You Back Up Your Procreate Files on Your External Hard Drive?

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My Picks for External iPad Pro Storage for Procreate

My Pick
Tough
For Creators
Description:

I've been using WD (Western Digital) hard drivers since I remember, and I recently upgraded to the USB-C version, which is formatted for macOS and iPadOS. It connects to both my iPad Pro and my MacBook instantly, and I use it to back up my Procreate artworks.

Description:

I think this SanDisk Extreme Portable hard drive is for Procreate artists who are on the move a lot and want a reliable hard drive that is super fast and withstands extreme handling.

Description:

LaCie Mobile drive is an external hard drive used by many of my artist friends, and they praise its design, price, and storage options. Plus, you are getting a one month of Adobe CC subscription.

Special Features:
Plug and Play device
Available for either macOS or Windows
USB-C to USB-C cable with USB 3.1 adapter
Special Features:
Plug and Play device
Super fast external Solid State Drive
USB-C to USB-C Cable, USB 3.2 Gen 2 compatible
Rugged and tough
Special Features:
External Hard Drive Portable HDD
USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C 3.2 compatible
FREE Adobe CC 1 month subscription included
Pros:
➕ Great price
➕ Super reliable
➕ Nice design
➕ Fast
Pros:
➕ Dust, water and shock resistant
➕ Super fast
➕ Super portable
Pros:
➕ Great price
➕ Nice design
➕ Fast
➕ BONUS: Adobe CC subscription
Cons:
➖ Older technology
Cons:
➖ Price
Cons:
➖ Durability issues
Notes:
💡 If you get Windows version, make sure it uses exFAT file system so it can connect to your iPad
Notes:
💡 If you get Windows version, make sure it uses exFAT file system so it can connect to your iPad
Notes:
💡 If you get Windows version, make sure it uses exFAT file system so it can connect to your iPad
My Pick
Description:

I've been using WD (Western Digital) hard drivers since I remember, and I recently upgraded to the USB-C version, which is formatted for macOS and iPadOS. It connects to both my iPad Pro and my MacBook instantly, and I use it to back up my Procreate artworks.

Special Features:
Plug and Play device
Available for either macOS or Windows
USB-C to USB-C cable with USB 3.1 adapter
Pros:
➕ Great price
➕ Super reliable
➕ Nice design
➕ Fast
Cons:
➖ Older technology
Notes:
💡 If you get Windows version, make sure it uses exFAT file system so it can connect to your iPad
Tough
Description:

I think this SanDisk Extreme Portable hard drive is for Procreate artists who are on the move a lot and want a reliable hard drive that is super fast and withstands extreme handling.

Special Features:
Plug and Play device
Super fast external Solid State Drive
USB-C to USB-C Cable, USB 3.2 Gen 2 compatible
Rugged and tough
Pros:
➕ Dust, water and shock resistant
➕ Super fast
➕ Super portable
Cons:
➖ Price
Notes:
💡 If you get Windows version, make sure it uses exFAT file system so it can connect to your iPad
For Creators
Description:

LaCie Mobile drive is an external hard drive used by many of my artist friends, and they praise its design, price, and storage options. Plus, you are getting a one month of Adobe CC subscription.

Special Features:
External Hard Drive Portable HDD
USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C 3.2 compatible
FREE Adobe CC 1 month subscription included
Pros:
➕ Great price
➕ Nice design
➕ Fast
➕ BONUS: Adobe CC subscription
Cons:
➖ Durability issues
Notes:
💡 If you get Windows version, make sure it uses exFAT file system so it can connect to your iPad

Can You Use Your Existing External Hard Drive to Backup Your Procreate Files?

This is a great question some of my Procreate students asked me, too.

What if you have an external storage drive you are completely happy with, but it doesn’t have a USB-C interface? So there is no easy way to connect it to your iPad Pro to back up your Procreate artworks.

The answer is that you get this nifty cable (see below):

USB Type-C to Micro-B 3.1 Cable

 Get it for your older hard drive to connect to your iPad Pro with USB-C connector

The USB-C to Micro-B cable will transform your existing external hard drive, which normally supports USB connection only, to a hard drive that can connect to your iPad with Procreate through USB-C.

I’ve gotten this cable last year, and since then, I can use some of my existing hard drives to connect to my iPad Pro and back up my Procreate files.💡 But please note: Your existing hard drive needs to support the iPadOS file system to work.

What Storage Formats and File Systems Does iPadOS Support?

I discovered that so my older hard drives can connect to my iPad Pro, they need to be formatted in a special file system. iPadOS supports the following file systems, also called storage formats:

Storage format / File system supported by iPadOS 15 and iPadOS 16Notes
HFS+ (macOS Extended File System)This one is only supported by iPadOS 16
APFS (Apple File System) or APFS+ (Encrypted)The newest Apple file system
ExFAT (FAT64) (Extended File Allocation Table)This is the one I use on my older hard drives because it connects to both macOS, iPadOS and Windows
FAT32 and FAT (File Allocation Table)This is outdated technology that supports hard drives of up to 32GB only, so I don’t recommend using it
Table: Storage formats/file systems supported by iPadOS – Source: apple.com

How Do You Format Your Hard Drive to Work with Your iPad for Procreate?

Screenshot: My iPad Pro External Hard Drives for Procreate File Systems Comparison (FYI - no idea why it says 1970 😊) - ©Art Side of Life

To format your hard drive to work with your iPad for Procreate, follow these steps:

  1. 🛑 IMPORTANT: Make sure your hard drive is empty before formatting. If it’s not empty, formatting will wipe out all your files. So I recommend you do the formatting with new hard drives only (if you need to). If you don’t do the formatting at all, get an external hard drive already made for macOS and iPadOS (see table above)
  2. Plug your hard drive into your Mac
  3. Find the hard drive under the Volumes
  4. Right-click and click on “Get Info”
  5. Find the row called “Format”
  6. If you are using iPad for Procreate with iPadOS 16 and the Format says any of the file systems listed in my table above, you are good to go. You do not need to format it.
  7. If it says NFTS, check out the following guide from Apple. To choose a file system, consult my helpful table above

How Do You Back Up Your Procreate Files on Your External Hard Drive?

Time needed: 5 minutes

Follow my step-by-step guide to back up your Procreate files on your external hard drive.

  1. Connect your external hard drive to your iPad Pro using the USB-C cable

    Your hard drive’s light will start blinking, which means it successfully connected to your iPad Pro0. Connect Hard Drive - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  2. Open the Procreate artwork you want to back up

    Click on wrench icon in upper left corner and tap on “Share” with your Apple Pencil1. Share - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  3. Your Procreate file will start exporting

    The screen says “Exporting” will appear. This means your Procreate file is preparing to be exported or saved externally outside of your Procreate app.2. Exporting - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  4. Choose “Save to Files” to back up to your external storage

    To back up your Procreate artwork to your connected external hard drive, choose the option “Save to Files”3. Save to Files - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  5. Find your hard drive under “Locations”

    Tap on your hard drive under “Locations”, select folder where you want to save your file and tap on “Save” in the upper right corner.4. Find Your Hard Drive - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  6. Your Procreate file will start saving

    You will see your Procreate artwork saving indicated by this little circle next to your artwork name.5. File is saving - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  7. You have successfully backed up your Procreate artwork

    When the screen shows “Export successful”, it means your Procreate file got saved to your external hard drive, and you have successfully backed it up!6. File saved - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  8. Open the Files App on your iPad

    To verify that your file got saved on your external hard drive, open the File App on your iPad7. Find Files App - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  9. In the File App find your external hard drive under “Locations”

    Under “Locations,” open your hard drive and the folder where you saved your Procreate artwork and find it saved among your other files.8. Open folder with saved artwork - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  10. You are ready to disconnect your hard drive

    To correctly disconnect your external hard drive, make sure both Procreate and Files App are closed. In your iPad home screen, swipe up with your finger and swipe the apps to the right to close them9. To disconnect hard drive close the apps - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

  11. Before disconnecting the USB-C cable, make sure the light is not blinking

    Visually check if the light on your external hard drive blinks. If not, you are safe to disconnect the hard drive from your iPad Pro. If it still blinks. Wait a few moments and check if you’ve closed all the apps.10. Hard drive light stops blinking - Back Up Procreate on External Hard Drive - ©Art Side of Life

I hope my post has helped you to choose your new external storage drive for saving your Procreate artworks and that you are now regularly backing up your work so you don’t lose it.

Happy Drawing!

Iva

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am a full-time self-taught artist behind Art Side of Life® and a Top Teacher on Skillshare. I have 15 years of experience in the creative field as a concept designer, illustrator, art director, and now freelance artist, content creator, and art instructor. My goal is to help you get your creative groove on with Procreate and make awesome art through practical classes, tutorials, Procreate brushes, and guides on art tools, supplies and resources. About me »

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