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How much iPad storage do I need?

iPad 10.2-inch: ipad storage
(Image credit: Apple)

When you buy an iPad, how much iPad storage you need is one of the most important decisions you make. Not only will this impact whether you can store everything you need on your device, but you cannot upgrade it with more physical storage once you have made your purchase. The amount you opt for at the checkout is what you are stuck with.

But fear not. Despite all the myriad storage options Apple offers with its iPads, we have laid them all out in a simple way for you in this article. We take a look at how much iPad storage you'll need to taking you through the different things that take up room on your device. Then, we look at the different storage options and which users they are suited to. By the end, you should have a clear idea of exactly how much iPad storage you need to meet your individual needs. 

If you're in the market for a new Apple tablet, then also see where to get the best iPad deals and what the best iPad stylus and best iPad keyboard is. And for extra storage beyond Apple, see our pick of the best cloud storage options.

iPad storage: Photos and videos

iPad storage: iPad 4th gen

Your iCloud will need a certain amount of space (Image credit: Apple)

While many of us take heaps of photos and videos with our phones, it is less common to use the more unwieldy iPad to document our lives. That said, you may still need storage for your photos and videos even if you never take a single photograph with your iPad, provided you have enabled one setting: iCloud Photo Library.

This feature syncs everything in your Photos library to every device where it is enabled. That means if you have thousands of pictures and videos on your iPhone, iCloud Photo Library will copy them to your iPad, taking up space. Before deciding how much iPad storage space you need, check how much is being consumed by media on your iPhone. If you have tons of content that will be synced, you might need more than the base 32GB or 64GB storage options. If iCloud Photo Library is disabled, this is less of an issue.

iPad storage: Games

iPad storage: iPad 7th gen

How big is your gaming library? (Image credit: Apple)

If games are your thing – and your iPad is going to be one of your main gaming devices – then you will likely need a decent amount of storage. Games can take up a lot of space, especially if you want to play high-end, AAA games from major developers.

If you only play games occasionally, or mostly stick to short, simple games, 32GB or 64GB will be enough for you. But if you have an overflowing games library combined with photos, videos, and other content, you might want to look at 128GB models or above.

iPad storage: Films, TV and other media

iPad storage: iPad 4th gen

Do you stream or download films and series? (Image credit: Apple)

Many people use iPads as streaming devices, watching their favourite content on services like Apple TV+ or Netflix. You might find yourself in the same boat, where storage space may not be too much of a concern since streaming apps do not store their large media files directly on your device. In that case, you might be able to get by with 64GB or even 32GB of space. Just be aware that other files – like your photos or apps – will add to your storage needs, even if you mainly use your iPad for streaming.

Also read: The best streaming services

iPad storage: Apps

iPad storage

Creative apps may eat into your storage (Image credit: Apple)

Most iPad apps are fairly streamlined, but there are some heavy hitters out there. Professional design and photo-editing apps, for example, can take up hundreds of megabytes each (see our favourite drawing apps for more creative options).

Don’t forget the other important consideration with apps – their files. Creative apps are especially guilty of producing enormous files that eat up space on your device. If you are frequently working with large, complex files, 512GB or even 1TB of storage might be what you need (currently, only the iPad Pro offers that much). Otherwise, you will need much less space.

Should I buy 32GB iPad storage?

This storage option is probably too little for most people, but it is fine if you mainly use your iPad for streaming where content is not stored directly on your device. As well as that, if reading the news and browsing websites are your main iPad activities, 32GB should be adequate for your needs.

  • Available on: 8th generation iPad

Should I buy 64GB iPad storage?

Upping your storage to 64GB makes things a bit more comfortable. If you are a light user, it is unlikely you will start bumping up against that limit any time soon, especially if you use cloud storage rather than keeping files on your device. 

  • Available on: iPad Air, iPad mini

Should I buy 128GB iPad storage?

For many users, 128GB is the sweet spot between bumping up against their storage limits and paying through the nose for 256GB or more. If you have an iPhone and want to sync a large Photos library to your iPad or store a lot of media content on your device, 128GB may be your best bet. Note that 128GB is only available on the 8th generation iPad and the iPad Pro. If you want an iPad Air or iPad mini, you must choose either 64GB or 256GB.

  • Available on: 8th generation iPad, iPad Pro

Should I buy 256GB iPad storage?

For most consumers, 256GB is a good option if you need a lot of room for your apps and files. Unless you are doing professional work on your tablet, it is unlikely you will find yourself maxing out the 256GB option. Every Apple tablet except the 8th generation iPad offers this much storage.

  • Available on: iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad Pro

Should I buy 512GB iPad storage?

Very few people will need 512GB of iPad storage and Apple seems to recognise this, limiting it to the iPad Pro. That said, it is probably the first option you want to consider if you are serious about the work you do with your iPad. Spending all day, every day creating artwork or editing large photos on your tablet will likely fill up 256GB (or less) rather quickly. Outside of professional creatives with heavy workloads, 512GB will almost certainly be too much.

  • Available on: iPad Pro

Should I buy 1TB iPad storage?

It is unlikely that many people will ever need this much space for an iPad, but that does not mean no one needs it. It is no surprise this storage option is only available on the iPad Pro – it is meant for professional users who use heavy duty apps to the max every day. If you are a professional musician or designer, or work with demanding augmented reality workloads, 1TB might be just what you need. That is especially true if you prefer to stash your files locally on your device rather than using cloud storage.

  • Available on: iPad Pro

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Alex is a freelance tech journalist and writes for MacFormat, TechRadar and Maximum PC.