The music, videos and pictures that users store on their Windows 8 devices aren’t just pieces of digital content. They are tales of who those users are, documentation of their family’s existence and sometimes the only way to prove that they took a certain vacation or met a certain person.
Essentially, those bits of data, are user’s lives. That’s great, personal computers were always meant to be part digital notebook and part eternal scrapbook.
The problem is that unlike paper scrapbooks and physical CD collections, Windows 8 devices can get viruses, they can be dropped. More importantly, users can actually run out of space to store all of those memories.
So what is a user to do once they’ve run out of storage on their Windows 8 device? Luckily, recent versions of Windows all include something called a Library. A library effectively stitches different locations on the users hard drive and treats them as one place. For example, in Windows XP there was actually a My Music folder that users had to drop their media into if they wanted it to show up in Windows Media Player. Libraries allowed that music to be stored anywhere. By comparison, the Music, Video & Pictures apps in Windows 8 can be configured to stitch different folders together. This means users can store media anywhere, like on a SD card or hard drive, and keep it segregated from their apps and programs.
Here’s how to move your music, video and pictures to an SD card or external hard drive in Windows 8. Before we begin, it’s important to note that you’ll need to have the Windows 8.1 update installed on your device to perfectly match what’s seen in the screenshots below. If you’re unsure about whether you have Windows 8.1 installed, head to the Windows Store by tapping or clicking on the Store icon on your Start Screen and looking for a giant purple banner that asks you to download Windows 8.1 for free. If you don’t have the update installed, install it now. The process should take a few hours at the most.
Moving Your Files
The first thing you’re going to want is your external storage. If you’re using a desktop than it’s a very good idea to invest in an USB external hard drive. They take up more space but cost less for more storage.
Windows 8 tablet users are in a slightly different position. It’s better for them to look into whether their device has an external storage slot. For example, The Surface tablets all include microSD card slots. Check to see if your tablet has an external storage slot. Small types of storage like flash drives and SD cards are going to cost more for more storage, but the price of admission is worth it because you don’t have to worry about carrying a bulky external drive with you wherever you go.
The last and most crucial type of external storage involves OneDrive. Built into Windows 8, OneDrive allows users to keep their stuff stored on Microsoft’s servers. If implemented properly the things in those folders will appear as if they’re actually being stored on the actual device unless there’s no internet connect. Bundles of storage space on OneDrive cost $25 for every 50GB of data and users have to pay that fee once a year. We won’t go into details about OneDrive cloud storage in this how to, however we did discuss it in detail in 5 Best Ways to Back Up Your Windows 8 Device.
First, insert your storage option into your device. If you’ve chosen to use a hard drive then plug it into your USB port. If you’ve chosen a microSD card now is the time to insert it into your device. There’s no one place to expect a microSD card slot on Windows 8 devices so it’s best to consult the instructions included with your individual device on how to insert it.
A pop-up window should open up that contains all of that storage device’s files. If it’s new than the window will be empty. Since we’ve already stored some things on our device it has something in it.
Using a mouse, right-click on the SDHC icon in your Desktop’s Taskbar. It’s located on the bottom your screen. Tablet users should tap on the icon and hold their finger down to open the menu. Users who’ve added a hard drive should right-click on that hard drive in their Taskbar.
Now tap or click on File Explorer to open a new window.
Choose the type of media you’d like to move over to your external storage and tap or click on the corresponding folder. In this case we’re moving over some music that had been stored in our Windows 8 device’s music folder.
For organizational purposes you may want to create new folders in the window for your new storage option for each type of information by right-clicking with your mouse and select New and then Folder. Tablet users should place their finger anywhere in the window and wait until a box appears and tap on New and then Folder. We’ve named ours Music.
Select everything you’d like to move over in your media folder by clicking any place that is blank and holding the left mouse button down and dragging it across all of your media. You’re then going to drag this content to the folder that opened when you inserted your new storage option.
How long your device takes to copy over this information really depends on how much media you are moving and how fast your external storage is. Complete this same process for all media you wish to move over. That includes Pictures and Videos if you’d like them to stop clogging up your device’s storage too.
You will need to delete the original version of the file you’re copying over after it’s finished. To do so, tablet users should tap and hold on the original files they’d like to delete from their device and select Delete. Mouse and keyboard users should right-click on those original items and select delete from the menu.
Adding SD Storage To Your Apps
Windows 8 allows users to add media to those Libraries we discussed earlier. That being said, libraries are really only something you need if you plan on spreading out your files in different places for some desktop apps. If you’re just planning to open them in the default Music, Video and Photos there’s a much simpler way to do that.
Press the Start key on your devices keyboard or press the Start button on your tablet or convertible’s display. Users of small tablets will need to place their finger on the right edge of their display and slide their finger to the left slightly. Then tap Start.
Click on the arrow in the bottom left corner of the Start Screen to open an entire list of apps installed. Touch users should place their finger anywhere on the Start Screen and slide upwards to reveal this same list. Tap or click on Music.
Inside Music, place your mouse cursor in the top-right corner of your screen to open the Charms Bar. Touch users should place their finger on the right edge of their display and slide slightly to the left to reveal the Charms Bar.
Tap or Click on Settings.
Tap or click on Preferences.
Tap or click on Choose where we look for music on this PC.
Now tap or click on the plus icon.
In the file picker select choose This PC from the drop down menu by tapping or clicking on it. Then find the folder you created on your SD card. By default this area is called the Drive D or SDHC. Tap or click on the Add This Folder to Music in the bottom-right corner of your screen.
Going forward,Xbox Music will find all of the music in this folder on your SD card and automatically add it to your collection. To be clear, you’ll need to repeat these steps for any other media you’ve moved to your SD Card in their respective apps. For example, you’ll need to add your SD card to the Videos app in this same manner before they find your content.
It’s a lot of work, but the results speak for themselves. It’s a very good idea to offload media onto a microSD card slot if you’re using any type of Windows machine that doesn’t have that much storage available to it. More space on your device means more space to install apps and games.