Sony PlayStation-4 game console has gained lots of popularity since the very first day of its release. This innovative game console has a tremendous number of audience and an incredible number of amazing video games ready to download/purchase.
But there arises a serious problem with the limited capacity of the default/standard PS4 hard drive that has been recently upgraded to 1TB by the factory itself in the new release line of PS4. But that amount of capacity is still not enough for a variety of users who look for a much bigger storage potential.
There are two different solutions to work around this problem—either upgrade your internal hard drive to a bigger size or get an external hard drive instead. We will be addressing both methods in this guide and make some recommendations at the end for the PS4 external hard drives.
Our PS4 External Hard Drive 2016 Roundup
In this section we will list what we consider to be the best external hard drive for PS4 game console for year 2016. These drives feature high quality products of the most prominent firms in the storage device industry. We only authorize Seagate, WD, Hitachi (which has been owned by WD since a few years) and Toshiba. Also, we gave the year of production (not before 2013) and term of warranty (not less than 2 years) our top priority along with the rating each particular drive gained on Amazon website.
Limitation of the Standard PS4 Hard Drive
Just until few weeks ago, Sony used to release PlayStation-4 with a 500gb hard drive capacity which doesn’t meet the expectations/ambitions of a wide variety of enthusiast users who stay hours daily playing different games on PS4. The heaps of complains Sony received of the limited storage capacity of PS4’s default hard drive forced the manufacturer to release a new version of PS4 with an expanded 1 terabyte of storage capacity. But again the enthusiast gamers find that capacity too limited for their ambition.
So what’s the workaround for this problem? How can the enthusiast users download all their favorite PS4 games and save them on a continuously handy storage device that provides an instant access to all your favorite games on the fly?
Break the Limits and Make Your Way
The answer is simply that you either upgrade your internal PS4 hard drive to a 2tb capacity, or even 1tb if you still use the older version of PS4 [Check our 1tb and 2tb PS4 hard drive recommendations] or, if you feel that size is still not sufficient for your needs, you better get a large external hard drive (up to 4tb), which features, along with a large internal hard drive, a pretty much enough space that can serve your needs for a few more years.
PS4 External Hard Drive Support
If you are new to the world of PS4, you may wonder then that PS4 does support adding an external hard drive to it just for the purpose of backup/archive. That’s one reason why PS4 has USB 3.0 ports on its back as seen in the picture on the right side.
This important feature gives a high flexibility to this console and gives a way out of the stress caused by the limited capacity of the default internal hard drive of PS4. So now you can download and save whatever digital material for your game console as long as you have an external expansion ready outside the box. But you need to know also that you’ll not be able to play your stored games or movies on PS4 while they are on the external hard drive. You’ll rather need to transfer what you desire to run/play to your PS4 internal hard drive first. This may be the only major disadvantage of using an external hard drive on PS4 consoles. Otherwise, to most users who have upgraded to a 2tb PS4 internal hard drive this should not be a problem at all.
So if you decide on going with an external hard drive for your PS4, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself first, something like: How to choose the best external hard drive for your PS4 in terms of performance and reliability? What kind of external hard drive suits you better—a desktop or a laptop external hard drive? What capacity do you really need and how can you take the utmost advantage of your current PS4 internal hard drive without just trading it for a new one?
These questions and others (which we will be addressing in this guide) are important to contemplate on before you decide on your situation with the limitation of PS4 storage.
Do You Really Need an External HDD for PS4?
The Internet abounds with lots of appealing materials to download and store on your PS4 hard drive, particularly games and movies. While a modern PS4 game, such as GTA 5 would cost you about 41GB of space just to store it, and almost 48.7GB to install it (i.e. that’s approximately 90GB of engaged space for just one game on your PS4 internal hard drive), the Ultra-HD movies come in similar size (For example, Mission Impossible 4K UHD 2160p is 45GB of size). And unless you are like that guy who disposes of every movie and game he downloaded by deletion after watching/playing it, you’ll find yourself stuck with the very limited space a standard PS4 hard drive provides, and you’ll easily come to the conclusion that even a 1tb will not suffice after few month of usage, and here arises the need of an extra storage device that can handle the heaps of your downloaded digital stuff.
Upgrade or Get an External HDD Instead?
Before answering this question you must be aware that on PS4 consoles you cannot play movies or install/run games on your external hard drive. A PS4 external hard drive is used basically and exclusively for archive/backup purposes. If you want to use the files stored on your external hard drive, you will need to transfer them first to the internal hard drive of your PS4.
There are three ways you can handle the lack of storage space in your PS4 internal hard drive:
- Upgrade the existing internal hard drive to a larger one and use the old HDD as an external storage with the help of an external hard drive enclosure. This method is mostly preferred by those who like to keep all or most of their files on the internal hard drive of PS4 for their own personal reasons or cumulatively install many large PS4 games. If you want to go with this method, check out our guide on the best 1tb & 2tb PS4 internal hard drive.
- Keep the current hard drive intact in its original place and get a new external hard drive. This method is mostly preferred by those who don’t like to get rid of their old files and rather archive them externally and relieve the burden on the internal hard drive. This is helpful if you don’t wish to delete your old files yet don’t want them stored anymore on your internal hard drive to free it up for new files.
- Upgrade your current internal hard drive and get a new external hard drive. This method is mostly preferred by professionals/enthusiasts who have so much to install and store internally and externally. This type of users is rare and they mostly seek the largest possible capacities for both internal and external hard drives.
Types of External Storage Solutions for PS4
There are various external storage solutions you can go with for your PS4, which are:
- External Hard Disk Drive (HDD), and this comes in two forms:
- Laptop external hard drive. It’s portable and small and doesn’t need a power cable to launch it. It has two types: Single drive and dual drive. The latter provides doubled speed of the first.
- Desktop external hard drive. It’s larger in size because it utilizes a 3.5-inch desktop hard drive. It’s faster and more reliable than its laptop sibling but its larger size, heavier weight and the need of power cable repel most users from adopting it. It comes also in two types: single drive and multiple drive which can be 2-4 drives connected to each other via RAID array inside one box.
- External Solid State Drive (SSD). It’s much faster, smaller and lighter than external hard drives and it takes full advantage of the USB 3.0 interface. But we don’t recommend it for PS4 for a few reasons:
- It’s much expensive than an ordinary external hard drive
- Has limited capacity (The biggest external SSD is 1tb capacity while external hard drives have already reached the 8tb level)
- PS4 will not make any big use of the high speed of the external SSD. That’s because the PS4 internal hard drive is already too slow compared with the speed of the external SSD which will remarkably hinder the transfer process between the two storage devices, and the HDD will rule here not the SSD.
You may read more about external solid state drives (SSD) here.
- USB Flash Drive. Its main disadvantage is the limited small capacity and the unreasonably exaggerated price for capacities above 256gb.
If you prefer this type of external storage, you may want to read our USB 3.0 flash drive guide.
Comparing the Types of External HDD
It may intrigue you to know the advantages and disadvantage of each type via a comparison table. This can give you a clearer picture of what external drive suits you best.
External Desktop HDD vs External Laptop HDD
In the table below we are comparing two external hard drives that are considered the best of their class. The desktop external drive is Seagate Backup Plus 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive (STDT5000100) [Single Drive] and the laptop external drive is Seagate Backup Plus 4TB Portable External Hard (STDR4000100) [Single Drive].
Note that the benchmark numbers have been acquired from storagereview.com.
|Features||External Desktop HDD [Single]||External Laptop HDD [Single]|
|Size (Dimensions)||7.1 x 1.6 x 4.6 inches||4.51 x 3.07 x 0.81 inches|
|Weight||1.9 pounds||6.4 ounces|
|Warranty||2-year limited||2-year limited|
|Interface||USB 3.0||USB 3.0|
The below table features a comparison between two types of external dual hard drives, one is unportable (desktop) [WD WD My Book Duo] and the other is portable (laptop) [Seagate Backup Plus Fast Portable].
Note that the benchmark numbers have been acquired from storagereview.com.
|Features||External Desktop HDD [Dual]||External Laptop HDD [Dual]|
|RAID0 2MB Sq. Read||254.7MB/s||183.4MB/s|
|RAID0 2MB Sq. Write||223.0MB/s||237.2MB/s|
|RAID0 2MB Ran. Read||99.9MB/s||90.0MB/s|
|RAID0 2MB Ran. Write||99.8MB/s||135.8MB/s|
|Size (Dimensions)||3.9 x 6.2 x 6.5 inches||4.6 x 3.25 x 0.88 inches|
|Weight||4.6 pounds||10.9 ounces|
|DATA Management||RAID0, RAID1, JBOD||RAID0, RAID1|
|Number of Drives||2||2|
|Interface||USB 3.0||USB 3.0|
|Warranty||2-year limited||3-year limited|
|Price||$219.00 [4TB]||$199.99 [4TB]|
What Type Do We Recommend?
As you can already notice, the external dual hard drive is faster by almost double the speed of the single drive. We would strongly recommend this type of external drives only to professional users who have tons of data to download and save everyday. Otherwise, a regular PS4 user should be fine with an external single hard drive.
Choosing the Best External Hard Drive for PS4
In order to choose the best external hard drive for PS4 you need to take the following points into consideration:
- Compatibility All of the external hard drive in our list are compatible with PS4 operating system. They are interfaced with USB 3.0 and can be formatted to work seamlessly with PS4 without any single issue.
- Brand name. Always go for prominent and well-reputed hard drive manufacturer, such as Seagate, Western Digital (WD), Hitachi and Toshiba.
- Year of manufacturing. Usually newer models are more improved and optimized than older ones. Just don’t go for an external hard drive released before 2013.
- Capacity. Gauge your needs and think about the near future and do your own calculations to find the right answer concerning this matter. Bear in mind that you can get a portable hard drive ranging from 1TB to 4TB, and unportable external hard drive ranging up to 12TB.
- Speed & Reliability. Usually you cannot determine that by just reading the official product specification sheet. The short route is to skim buyers’ reviews on online retail stores like Amazon.com. That will not take you 5 minutes of time! Or if you need more precise knowledge, go read the reviews of IT professional on the particular drive in which you’re interested.
- Warranty. Don’t buy a drive that has less than 2-year limited warranty, which is the standard term now in all brands.
- Encryption. It’s not too important if you’re not going to store personal data on the drive.
- Portability. This is not a big issue if you want to exclusively use the external hard drive for backing up your files from PS4. If you have enough space for a desktop external hard drive, I would only recommend it to you, as it’s more reliable and faster than laptop/portable drives. Otherwise, a portable hard drive should be fine with you, as the “more reliability” of external desktop hard drives doesn’t make the portable ones bad or unreliable. It’s just a relative matter.
What about PS4 External Hard Drive Compatibility?
Many old PS4 users who live with the outdated firmware software of PS4 still think that they cannot use an external hard drive on PS4, or if it’s possible then it’s a matter of difficulty due to compatibility issue.
This could have made a valid point if we are living 2 years back when Sony first released its PS4 console without any support for external storage devices. But now this is a matter of history. You’ll not have any compatibility issue at all when you add an external hard drive to PS4. Just follow the next section in this guide to learn how to use an external HDD on PS4.
How to use an external hard drive on PS4
You must bear in mind always that an external hard drive on PS4 can be used for two purposes only:
- Backup your data on the internal hard drive.
- Play media files (like movies and audios) directly from it.
Unlike Xbox One, YOU CANNOT PLAY GAMES ON THE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE WITH PS4.
We have repeated this a few times now within this article lest you forget this important fact.
So now, you have got an external hard drive for your PS4, how to use it?
Using it is very simple, just follow the steps below and you’ll be done.
But before going through our short guide, make sure you have downloaded and installed the latest firmware update for PS4. This is an essential step to carry out.
Now you are ready!
For backup purposes:
- Make sure your external hard drive is ready and connected to PS4 USB port
- Follow this path on PS4: Settings -> System -> Backup and Restore ->Back Up PS4
- There’s only one option and that is whether or not Applications will be part of the back-up. Otherwise it’s just Captures, Saved Data, and Settings. So make your choice and click “Next” then “Back Up“
If you find it is still unclear, you can watch the video below which explains this process thoroughly and plainly:
For Playing External Media Files:
This is also a simple process, all what you have to do is the following:
- Download “PS4 Media Player” from the PlayStation Store (there will be an icon on your PS4’s home screen so you don’t have to search through the Store catalog), and let it install.
- Connect your external hard drive to PS4 via USB port
- Load up the newly-installed PS4 Media Player.
- Now your external hard drive will appear in the list of playable media, and you can select what you want to watch.
See the image below:
At the end of the day, after Sony released its PS4 firmware update that allows the use of external hard drive on PS4, an external hard drive has become an essential accessory to all enthusiasts who have large data to regularly backup, or have tons of movies they wish to play externally without the need to download them directly on their internal hard drive.