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Is there a cable which connects my (normal/usual) external hard drive (which I use with my PC) to my Samsung Galaxy Tab S with a Lollipop Android operating system? If so, should it have an external power supply?

How about a memory stick?

Are tablets basically constructed NOT to connect to external hard drives?

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  • I have a cable Micro-USB to type A jack for this purpose. I can connect USB-sticks, small USB drives as well as a hub for keyboard + mouse. You must be living in the past.
    – ott--
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 20:14
  • There also exist tablets (mostly Windows ones, such as the Surface tablets, but also a few Android ones) with full-sized USB ports.
    – CBHacking
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 21:36
  • I realise that I am very late posting this, but it may be useful to others who are looking for information on the subject. I thought it might be worth adding that there are apps on Google Play that enable your Android device to read NTFS-formatted hard drives. The one I use on my Samsung tablet is Paragon exFAT, NTFS & HFS+. I've used it for a good few years and would recommend it, although there are others that I have not tried that may be equally as good.
    – user147836
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 10:33

3 Answers 3

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To my knowledge, (testing this myself now), it depends how the drive is formatted. According to my research: A drive you've been using for storage with Windows, formatted to NTSF default, won't be seen and Android most of the time won't see the external hard drive if it isn't formatted in exFAT. It depends on your tablet's manufacturer whether or not it is capable of viewing exFAT formatted storage devices.

Whether you use a power source cord of any kind for the external hard drive all depends on if the device normally requires one to function. Unless provided with the external storage device by the manufacturer or stated by the manufacturer to use something for power, the USB hard drive should not require outside power source to function. Small laptop hard drives or external small sized USB hard drives require only the power of the USB port to function. Most external USB hard drives are like this. Some larger 2-in-1 tablets come with a standard USB port and you may not need a "converter-OTG-cable" A.K.A. USB standard female to micro USB male cable.

My tablet is the RCA Maven pro 11.6 2-in-1 tablet, which has standard, as well as mini USB ports, so I'm experimenting now with a laptop platter style external HD to see if it can be read, and written to formatted in exFAT. From what I have read, if exFAT formatting the external hard drive with Windows doesn't work, then try FAT32 (backup, or remove everything on the drive before reformatting, because a reformat will erase all files).

Like I said I'm not an expert, but I read a lot, I love Android devices, and - If your tablet has both standard and micro USB ports like my RCA Maven Pro has (large tablets like Chromebook, MacBook, etc, usually have both standard and micro USB ports, if your device does as well, try using one or the other, so try using the micro USB port if the standard doesn't work, by using an OTG connection cable. If your system sees the drive, but says it needs to be reformatted, then make your tablet reformat the drive, and then it's bound to be able to read it.

If neither of those USB storage drive formats work, then your manufacturer did not include their capabilities. If it reads it but won't mount the USB device. or checks for errors, give it time (from what I've read) depending on the size of the drive, is how much time it will take to read it.

BTW if your device has a standard USB port, note that most tablets with one are usually USB 2.0, with tablets. If your external hard drive is over a certain size then USB standard 2.0 won't be able to see it, or all of it. Then you'd need a USB standard to micro USB conversion cable to be used plugged into your tablets micro USB port, in order to see the external's higher capacity. Make sure your micro USB port isn't just for charging, and will read outside devices. Some versions of Android require you to switch it in settings.

The only other alternative for an external hard drive being seen and utilized by Android (that I can think of) is to purchase a wireless USB storage hub to plug the hard drive into, to then wirelessly transmit files from the hard drive plugged in to your Android device.

Anyway that's what I know. I'm going to try this right now too with a 500GB, and see what happens. Good luck.

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What you would need is an OTG cable...its not very pricey...one end of it acts an USB port for your external hard-disk, while the other end is micro-USB compatible, so can be easily connected to your smartphone or tablet

Just a sample

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The feature you are looking for is called USB On The Go.

Your smart-phone or tablet has to support it otherwise your device won't be able to talk to the USB device.

There are ways to find out whether your device supports it. If it doesn't support it, rooting your device may make it possible.

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