How to Choose and Install the Right External Hard Drive for Your PS5

How to Choose and Install the Right External Hard Drive for Your PS5


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Sony recently disclosed the requirements for upgrading the PlayStation 5’s internal storage with an M.2 Solid State Drive (SSD), and it’s woefully confusing. While there are several SSDs that meet Sony’s requirements on paper, only a few drives currently work on PS5—and those that do are quite expensive. In some cases, users will be expected to enhance the SSD’s cooling capabilities by adding a heat sink—an extra step that feels more in line with hardcore PC building that undermines the plug-and-play simplicity of home consoles.

Luckily, there is another way to expand your PS5’s storage space using an external HDD that’s much easier to pull off.

To be fair, using an external HDD is different from boosting your console’s internal storage capacity, but offloading some of your games to an external hard drive will save space on your PS5’s main SSD. The only major downside is that you can’t play PS5 games from an external storage device, but you can store them there for easy access when you want to reinstall them. PS4 games, on the other hand, can be played on PS5 from an external drive and work perfectly, making it a viable option if your primary goal is to install more games on your PS5.

PS5 external storage requirements

Of course, you can’t go plugging any old hard drive into your PS5; only certain hard drives are compatible as expanded storage options. Specifically, you will need a drive with one of the following SuperSpeed USB connection types:

  • SuperSpeed USB 5 Gbps (USB 3.0/USB 3.1 Gen1/USB 3.2 Gen1)
  • SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen2/USB 3.2 Gen2/USB 3.2 Gen1x2)
  • SuperSpeed USB 20 Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen2x2)

Size also matters. Expanded storage drive must have at least 250 GB of space, and the largest supported size is 8 TBs.

However, even if your hard drive meets those specifications, Sony is clear that some drives simply will not work on PS5. Do your research and shop specifically for PS5-compatible drives if you plan on buying one.

Don’t fret if your USB hard drive won’t work as an expanded storage device for your PS5; you can use it to create an external backup of your console instead. This can be done on any USB storage device large enough to hold the data you want to backup. You can’t play games from a backup drive, but you can keep data safely stored locally, which will come in handy if your PS5 ever suffers a hardware failure or memory corruption, and could free up extra space on your PS5’s internal SSD.

How to use an external USB drive as expanded storage on PS5

So, once you have a PS5-compatible hard drive, it’s time to get it ready to use as an expanded storage device. To do so, you’ll need to properly connect, format, and configure the drive on your PS5. Here’s what to do:

Connect the drive to your PS5

The first step is simple enough: Plug the drive into a USB port on the back of your PS5 console. The drive must be connected directly to the PS5—it won’t work if you connect via a USB hub. Similarly, you can only use one external hard drive at a time. Multiple can be connected, but only one will be active as the expanded storage location.

Format the drive

Next, we need to format the drive so the PS5 can use it. On your PS5, go to Settings > Storage > USB Extended Storage, and select “Format as USB Extended Storage.”

Warning: This will delete ALL previously saved data on the drive, so back up those files on your PC before proceeding. It will also make the drive incompatible with other devices until you reformat it again.

Install games on the drive

Now you can transfer and install games to the hard drive. Remember that PS4 games are playable from expanded storage, but PS5 games are not.

To move PS4 games to the external drive:

  1. Highlight the game you want to move from your PS5’s library screen.
  2. Press the “options” button on your controller then select “Move to USB Extended Storage.

You can also set PS4 games to be automatically downloaded to the external drive by going to Settings > Storage > Extended Storage and toggling “Install PS4 Games to USB Extended Storage.”

To move PS5 games to the external drive:

  1. Highlight the game you want to move from your PS5’s library screen.
  2. Press the “options” button on your controller, then select “Copy.”
  3. Follow any on-screen prompts.



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