PlayStation Now, Sony’s online game streaming service, now supports the downloading of PS2 and PS4 games to subscribers, similar to how you can download shows on Netflix. Once downloaded, you’ll be able to play those games anytime, even when offline. Even play online without requiring PlayStation Plus. A welcome addition for players without internet connections capable of regular game streaming. But with so many games, you’ll need so much more space.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of this new feature, you might consider connecting an external hard disk drive for much-needed space. If you have an earlier model PlayStation 4 system, you likely have only 500 GB of hard drive space to work with, which is enough for only about 12-15 games (assuming an average size of around 40GB per game). Here’s everything you need to know about connecting and using an external hard disk drive with your PlayStation 4 console.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started
An external, USB 3.0 hard disk drive with a minimum capacity of 250 GB
The PlayStation 4 supports an external hard disk drive with up to 8TB capacity. We recommend the WD 4TB My Passport, which offers a substantial amount of storage at a great price, and have featured additional suggestions at the bottom of this guide. It’s also small enough to comfortably fit in your entertainment center. The PlayStation 4 supports pretty much any USB 3.0 external hard drive of your choosing, so long as it meets the capacity requirements.
An available USB 3.0 port on your PS4
The PlayStation 4 features two USB 3.0 ports on the front, and the PlayStation 4 Pro has two in the front plus an extra on in the back. It’s important to note that you will not be able to use an external hard disk drive that has been plugged into a USB hub. You must plug the HDD directly into the one of the system’s available USB 3.0 ports. You can then plug your USB hub, and any other devices, into one of the system’s other available ports.
Your PlayStation 4 system must be updated to software version 4.50 or later
External HDD support was added in Sony’s 4.50 software update for the PlayStation 4, so you’ll definitely need to make sure your system is updated. The update released early in 2017, so if you’ve been actively playing your PS4, you’ve likely already downloaded this update, as well as many subsequent ones.
How to format your external hard disk drive for use with the PlayStation 4
Before you can use an external hard disk drive with your PlayStation 4, it must be formatted to the exFAT file system. Technically, the PlayStation 4 will also support drives formatted as FAT32, but if you want to store files larger than 4GB you’ll want to make sure to use exFAT. You will not be able to use a drive that has been formatted to NTFS until it is first formatted to exFAT. While you can format the drive using your computer, it’s easier to use the PlayStation 4. Note that formatting the drive will removed any data that’s already saved to the drive, so make sure to back up anything important!
To format your external hard drive to the exFAT file system using your PlayStation 4 system, follow these steps:
- Plug the external hard disk drive into one of the PlayStation 4’s available USB 3.0 ports
- Navigate to the [Settings] menu on your PlayStation 4
- Select [Devices] then [USB Storage Devices]
- Choose the external hard disk drive from the list and press X
- On the next screen, select [Format as Extended Storage] then select [Next]
- Select [Format] then [Yes] and finally [Okay]
Your external hard disk drive will be formatted to the support file system and you’ll be good to go. The formatting process generally doesn’t take very long, so you’ll be ready to use your drive in just a few minutes. The new drive will show up when you navigate to the [Storage] menu in [Settings], and can be used to download and save games and files.
How to set the external hard disk drive as the default location for downloads and installs
Once you’ve formatted your external hard disk drive and it’s recognized by your PlayStation 4, you can set the drive to be the default storage location for all of your downloads by navigating to the system’s [Settings] then [Storage].
From the [Storage] menu, tap the OPTIONS button and you’ll be able to choose the PS4’s default application install location, choosing between “System Storage” and “Extended Storage.”
How to transfer games and applications to your PS4’s external hard disk drive
Once you have all that extra storage, you’ll likely want to start moving some of your existing games and applications to the new drive. It’s important to note that you cannot save application save data, PS4 themes, screenshots, or video clips to the extended storage device. When you move a game or application, these files will remain on the PlayStation 4’s internal storage, though it will have no problems accessing them. Additionally, you cannot have a game or app installed on both the system and external hard disk drive drive simultaneously.
Moving applications and installed games to your new external hard disk drive is easy. Navigate to [Settings] > [Storage] again then select your PlayStation 4’s internal drive (system storage). Select [Applications] then press the OPTIONS button on the controller. You can then choose what you’d like to do with applications on your system (“Move to Extended Storage” or “Delete”). We want to move, so obviously we’ll select “Move to Extended Storage.” You’ll then be able to select boxes next to the applications and games you wish to move to your external hard disk drive. Select as many as you’d like, then select [Move] to begin the transfer.
Choosing the best external hard disk drive for your PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4 will support most external hard disk drives with no issue, provided they are at feature at least 250GB capacity, and no greater than 8TB, and have been formatted to the exFAT file system as directed.
It’s worth noting that you while you can also use an external SSD with your PlayStation 4, though do keep in mind they are significantly costlier. However, if you’re playing a lot of online games, such as Destiny 2, Monster Hunter World, or Final Fantasy XIV, you’ll certainly see an improvement in load times, and all those precious seconds (or minutes) will add up over time. However, you may also consider upgrading your PlayStation 4’s internal
Here are our top picks for the best drives which are compatible to be used as external hard disk drives for the PlayStation 4 system: