Every PlayStation 4 owner knows how quickly memory is eaten up by downloaded games, capture gallery videos, and Blu-ray game installation data. Even 1TB PS4 models can run out of room after just a few years. Fortunately, increasing your storage can be as simple as plugging an external hard drive into one of the PS4’s USB 3.0 ports.
Thanks to the system software update 4.5, you can store downloaded games and game data on an external hard drive and play them as you normally would, even if they’re not on the PS4’s internal hard drive. However, not all hard drives are compatible with the PS4, and you will need a hard drive with a USB 3.0 connection.
External hard drives come in different sizes and different capacities, too. Some compatible hard drives may need reformatting before they can store PS4 data, and this is a process that may require a computer. An external hard drive is an investment, so it’s important to find a hard drive with the speed and storage capacity you need.
Hard drives, also known as HDDs, are not as fast as solid-state drives (SSDs), but they are almost always less expensive.
Type of Drive
When it comes to external hard drives for your PS4, there are two types to choose from: hard drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). An HDD contains a disc that stores data and spins in order to read that data. The faster it spins, the harder your drive has to work, potentially slowing down your operating system.
SSDs, on the other hand, are a newer technology with no moving parts. This allows them to use less power and produce no heat, meaning they run faster than an HDD. SSDs tend to be more reliable and last longer, and because they have fewer parts than HDDs, they also weigh less.
Unsurprisingly, SSDs are considerably more expensive than HDDs. Though the up-front cost is higher, SSDs tend to encounter fewer malfunctions and often have longer manufacturer protectionperiods than HDDs, cutting down on the cost of later replacements.
When you’re weighing your options, storage is probably your first concern—and that’s the best place to start when shopping for an external hard drive for your PS4. It is often only slightly more expensive to purchase a 2TB drive over a 1TB model, and the same goes for the jump from 2TB to 4TB. However, there’s no need to spend more on space that won’t be used.
It’s important to remember that one advantage an external hard drive has over an internal hard drive (aside from the simple installation) is that your storage space isn’t replaced—it’s added to. Most PS4 games average around 35GB to 40GB if you’re installing them from a Blu-ray disc. That means you can fit around 25 full games on an external 1TB hard drive. A 1TB hard drive will last most gamers for years, but if you want to go with 2TB or 4TB, you’ll likely never think about storage again.
Not all external hard drives are compatible with the PS4. To ensure that your hard drive is compatible, you should look for a few factors.
The hard drive should connect to your PS4 via USB. You can only have one external hard drive connected at a time. Of course, you could have multiple external hard drives that you switch in and out.
If you go for a smaller external hard drive, make sure it has at least 250GB of storage. The PS4 is not compatible with hard drives with less than that. On the other end of the spectrum, 8TB is the largest external hard drive the PS4 is compatible with.
Finally, make sure the external hard drive is already formatted to be compatible with the PS4 operating system or can be formatted using the PS4 or a gaming computer.
When researching hard drives, we pay careful attention to which ones are guaranteed to work with the popular PS4 gaming console.
We think about how durable the various PS4 consoles are and whether they are protected from shock and moisture by a silicone exterior bumper.
Our research into the best PS4 external hard drives has led us to endorse some relatively large models with enough space for large modern games.
In our search for the top PS4 external hard drives, we consider those with high peak read speeds so you can take full advantage of the console’s high-speed USB port.
A deep dive into the performance of PS4 external hard drives allows us to recommend the best traditional hard drives and the best solid-state models.
The long-term reliability of each unit is something we pay close attention to when researching the best PS4 external hard drives.
We understand most consumers don’t want to buy extra cables or adapters, so we make a point to research which connectors each PS4 external hard drive has.
Reliability matters to gamers, which is why we look for PS4 external hard drives built with resilient materials and military-grade durability.
When compiling a shortlist of PS4 external hard drives, we start by looking at the biggest names in hard drive manufacturing.
A good PS4 external hard drive should be relatively portable. As such, we carefully note each unit’s measurements when weighing its pros and cons.
Though most external hard drives function in the same way, there are a few differences that you may want to look out for.
External hard drives come in different styles and sizes. If physical space is as much of an issue as storage space, you should consider models that include a stand and can be stored vertically. Some models are plain and blocky, while others are sleeker and more stylized.
Another consideration is LED indicators. In some cases, bright LEDs can be disruptive, particularly if you like gaming or streaming video in a dark room.
The main factor that determines the lifespan of a hard drive is heat, so look for designs that allow for airflow to keep your external hard drive cool.
Cord length varies from one model to the next. If you plan to store your hard drive right next to your PS4, a shorter cord will work fine. But if you don’t have room beside the console or just want the hard drive to be out of sight, a longer USB cable is best.
If you travel with your PS4 frequently, you’ll want to consider the durability of your external hard drive. Some models are designed to handle a few bumps and drops, and some may even be able to withstand exposure to moisture and water.
Speed is another consideration. External hard drives, just like internal hard drives, use a spinning disk to access data. The standard, slim, and pro PS4 hard drives spin at 5,400 rpm, which some people consider to be on the slower side. For faster loading and possibly better performance, consider external hard drives with speeds of up to 7,200 rpm. However, take note that 7,200 rpm drives run hotter than those of a lower rpm.
If you’re looking for a less expensive hard drive, you can find a good model between $55 and $80 offering 1TB to 2TB of storage. More durable models tend to cost more, but they don’t necessarily perform better.
External hard drives in the $80 to $100 range offer up to 4TB of storage and may include extras like cable management or a vertical stand.
For $100 to $200, most external hard drives have 4TB to 8TB of storage and attractive designs. They may also be weather-resistant.
Don’t keep your external hard drive on top of your PS4, as this will cause the hard drive (and your PS4) to warm up faster.
Vertical stands not only save space but can also keep your external hard drive from getting too warm.
You can transfer data, games, and applications from the PS4 internal hard drive to your external hard drive from the Storage Settings menu.
If you want to designate the external hard drive as the default install location for games, you can do so in the Storage Settings menu.
With an external hard drive, you can turn your PS4 off or put it in rest mode like you normally would.
If you want to unplug your external hard drive, you must first select “Stop using external storage” from the Quick menu.
You can’t store game save data on your external hard drive. Fortunately, game save data is relatively small.
Movies and videos can’t be streamed from an external hard drive, but you can store movies on your external hard drive and then transfer them to internal storage for streaming.
An external hard drive is an easy way to bring your games with you. You can simply plug the hard drive into another PS4 to access stored games without worrying about installation.
Q. How do I set up my external hard drive?
A. First, turn on your PS4 and plug the hard drive into one of the USB 3.0 ports on the PS4. You will then get a notification that either your external hard drive is ready to go or that it needs to be formatted. In the latter case, you can usually select the notification and follow the on-screen steps. In some cases, you will need your computer to format the hard drive.
Q. Why isn’t my PS4 recognizing my external hard drive?
A. If the external hard drive meets all compatibility criteria but does not trigger a PS4 notification, you may need to plug the hard drive into a computer to see if it needs to be assigned a drive letter or be initialized. Otherwise, try plugging the external hard drive into another USB port on the PS4.
Q. Do I have to do anything to play games stored on my external hard drive?
A. No. Once the game is installed on the hard drive, you should be able to select it from the PS4 menu just like any other game.