How to give the Surface Pro's storage a boost

How to give the Surface Pro's storage a boost

Summary: Two quick and simple ways to add gigabytes of additional storage to the Surface Pro, along with one idea that you should definitely not try.

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Microsoft's Surface Pro tablets come in two storage capacities—64GB and 128GB—but for some people this is not enough. So how can proud new Surface Pro owners bump the storage capacity of their tablet? Here are two ways, along with a way that you almost certainly shouldn't try.

Cloud storage

One of the quickest and easiest ways to boost the storage capacity of a Surface Pro is to go wireless and rely on cloud storage. You can go with Microsoft's SkyDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, or any number of other options. If one doesn't offer enough storage capacity, then you'll either have to pay for more storage, or sign up with another free cloud provider.

While cloud storage is an increasingly popular option, thanks to the low cost and ease of access, cloud storage isn't for everyone. At minimum, it relies on the user having access to the cloud whenever they need access to their data, and if they handle a lot of data, they will also need a relatively fast connection. Downloading a 100MB sales document or presentation file over 3G or a slow Wi-Fi connection can be a painful—albeit enlightening—experience.

Small USB flash drives

As awesome as cloud storage is, you can't beat having the data that you need with you when you're on the road. And thanks to stratospheric increases in storage densities, you can pack gigabytes of storage into a tiny space.

Take, for example, the Sandisk Cruzer Fit. These diminutive flash drives are no bigger than a fingernail yet come in capacities ranging from 4GB to 32GB. These drives are so small, and so unobtrusive, that you can plug one into a spare USB port and almost forget that it's there.

(Source: ZDNet)

They're not expensive either, with some retailers offering the 32GB version for under $20.

Gone are they days of flash drives having to be the size of a finger. These things are tiny.

One word of warning if you do decide to boost the capacity of your device with a USB flash drive—especially tiny one. Remember that these drives are easily lost or stolen, and if the data you store on them is important, then you should use strong encryption to protect your data. That way, if the drive does fall into the wrong hands, you're only down the drive, and don't have to worry about the data stored on it.

[UPDATE: Some have noted that small SSD drives in USB enclosures could also be used. While this will work, they're a bit for tablet use. But if you're happy carrying something pocket-sized around with you, then they're a great solution.]

What not to do

OK, I've given you two ways you can use to boost the storage capacity of your Surface Pro, now here's something you definitely shouldn't try at home.

The drive inside the Surface Pro is a standard mSATA SSD, which might get you thinking about taking your Surface Pro apart and swapping it out for a bigger one.

Don't even think about it!

Microsoft used copious quantities of tar-like adhesive to hold the tablet together, a mess which required the iFixit team to use a heat gun and a handful of guitar picks to gain access to the guts of the device.

(Source: iFixit)

So, while it's technically possible to replace the drive, in practice it's far from easy, and one misstep could mean a ruined Surface Pro tablet.

Topics: Storage, Microsoft Surface

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28 comments
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  • Another Storage Option

    Some SSD'S in the 2.5 form factor have a usb port on them also that you can use as external storage which are faster than thumb drives and come in higher capacity .
    kg4icg
    • great for keeping at the home or office

      not so great for on the go though.
      theoilman
  • Remove recovery partition

    The Surface Pro comes with a recovery partition.
    A recovery USD stick can be created after which the software will ask if the recovery partition can be removed
    You get 6-7 GB back in diskspace on your Surface Pro SSD

    See here for instructions:
    http://www.microsoft.com/Surface/en-US/support/storage-files-and-folders/create-a-recovery-drive
    IE9
  • Micro SDXC

    Isn't there a Micro SDXC slot in the Pro version like the RT version?
    IT69
    • Yup. AKH missed that one.

      First thing I did was to purchase a 64 GB micro SDXC card and install it. Works like a charm on my Surface Pro 128 GB model.
      kenosha77a
      • Memory card makes more sense

        THe micro SDXC card makes a lot more sense than the USB solution to expand memory. There is only one USB port on the Surface, which is much better to use for a USB dock when using the tablet on the desktop.
        techwatcher
    • RE: Micro SDXC

      Why yes, yes there is.
      greywolf7
    • I think you missed the point of the article

      AKH wasn't trying to actually give anyone good advice, he was trying to find an excuse to slam the Surface's repairability.
      toddbottom3
      • indeed

        because the ability to pry open a device is such a key buying decision
        mtalinm
        • At the same time...

          He is right... he had to point out that you can (unlike every other tablet) but that its not recommendable... I'd do it/I will do it when its availabe in Ireland... I rip everything else i own apart... Last time I built a new pc i stuffed the old one (minus the dvd drive because that just wasn't gona happen) into a dead xbox 360 case... put my Archos (and dock due to tv out and IN) into a ps2 so i could play without a tv (absolutly pointless but was fun)... Cut out the battery holder on the 360 controller and used an old Nokia 82 somethin somethin battery (same power as 360 one) and made the bottom of the controller flat....

          Sorry the reason i said all that is, If anyone has stuff they dont use, go mad... try build somethin, worst that can happen is you break somethin you dont use... or fix somethin that was broken... that Nokia was f*cked and the controller battery holder was broken but now it is light and smooth with a longer battery... somehow... and the ps2 was free... but yea... the only reason i know how to do half it is cause i mess...

          My next plan is to make a 40" all in one... An i5 1st gen custom pc and I have a 4 year old LG, back when they were still 5 inches deep yet nothing inside them.... I've had a look... a full ATX with ram will fit.... CPU cooler will be interesting, tho i think i might get a laptop cooler off ebay for $5... GFX card can be moved and psu can be made flat... make a good media TV/PC...

          Really need to stop smoking before posting....
          Skunkwurx
      • How quickly they forget...

        http : / / www.zdnet.com/samsungs-galaxy-note-10-1-far-easier-to-repair-than-the-ipad-7000002874/

        And what do we discover in the comments but a certain "toddybottom3" claiming that the iPad3's construction:
        "is undeniable that Apple is doing this on purpose to increase sales of the iPad as people are forced to purchase brand new iPads to replace their broken iPads."

        But obviously not when talking about the Surface! How very "blackwhite" of you.
        http : / / en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Newspeak_words#Blackwhite
        Zogg
      • Service

        He also neglected to say that a simple and cheap service contract from MS takes all repair worry out of the picture so it doesn't matter if the case is sealed with a Gordian knot
        archangel9999
        • So is the service contract effectively mandatory?

          In which case, you need to add the cost of the service contract to the price of the tablet.

          Although it begs the question of what MS does with a broken Surface. Glue is still glue, and it's just as difficult for MS to unstick it as for anyone else. Perhaps MS simply replaces the units and doesn't try to repair them at all?
          Zogg
  • External hard drive

    Is also a viable option :)

    Next to Memory cards, thumb drives, etc.
    spicycheeks
  • Cloud Storage Options

    a. If you have a couple of year old hotmail account you have 25GB SkyDrive, otherwise 7GB
    b. If you signup for Box using one of the promotions such as Box for iOS, Box for HP touchpad etc, you have 50GB of cloud storage, otherwise you have 5GB
    c. If you signup for dropbox, you get 5GB
    d. If you signup for Asus Web Storage, you get 5GB, and if you by any chance have Asus device, you get 32GB for 3 years
    e. If you signup for bitcasa you get nearly 8GB (they say 10GB) but you get 8G
    f. If you have Google Account you get 5GB of GDrive.

    There may be more, but with all of these you get at least 35GB of cloud storage. If you have multiple Box, SkyDrive and DropBox, use an app called All Storage (Pro), and you have access to those storages within one single Windows Store App.
    Ram U
    • Why would you bother?

      20 gig on skydrive costs $10 per year. Far simpler and you can automate it.
      jonc2011
    • More SkyDrive

      Let's not forget the extra 20GB of SkyDrive you get when you purchase Office 365.
      sparent
  • Do you even own a surface?

    "32GB version for under $20" Way to go on useless advice.... please be assured that for $20 you will get the the slowest usb storage possible forget about utilizing the usb 3.0 to its full potential and get ready to wait for your files to copy at download speeds.

    You didn't even bother to mention the availability of microSDXC card slot which these days can go upto 64gb. Why do i need to close out my only usb port? A microSDXC Class 10 card will set you back $90 but it will get you up to 70MB/s Write Speed: up to 20MB/s read.

    And what about home network storage ? hellooooooooo...its a windows pc not an ipad, you can access you desktop hard drive very easily on a home wifi.
    fire115
    • WiFi Connect

      Toatally agree. Ability to connect to every other device on the network ... theres my sky drive right there. I could just as easily have whatever storage device i wish plugged to any desktop (like my office one that always on anyways) and send stuff straight to it wirelessly ... then pack that drive up in the breifcase when i go home (hypothetical - who uses breif cases anymore?).
      RedSoldat
  • Home Server?

    Windows Home Server offers massive local storage (I use it with a 16TB raid-10 and a backup to an online service for a small part of business critical materials) and the opportunity to remote access any content while you're away, including streaming video and music.
    My days of storing any content on a specific end-use device are over....
    PensivePeter