How to Add Extra Storage to Steam Deck

You can upgrade with a bigger drive but not just any old SSD will work

What to Know

  • You can expand Steam Deck storage with a micro SD card, an external USB drive, or a bigger SSD drive. 
  • To add an SD card: Insert the card, then push the Steam button > Settings > System > Format > Confirm
  • Set SD card as default download location: Steam button > Settings > System > Storage > Micro SD Card > X.

This article explains how to add extra storage to a Steam Deck.

How to Expand Steam Deck Storage

The Steam Deck is available in three different versions, each of which comes with a different amount of onboard storage. If you opted for the most affordable version, you’ll find that you can only install a handful of games before you run out of room.

When that happens, you can expand your storage in these ways:

  • Add an SD card: This easy process can increase your storage by 1 TB or even more with a single micro SD card, or you can swap out multiple smaller micro SD cards.
  • Connect an external drive: You can connect an external drive via the USB-C port, but the drive can only be set up through desktop mode, and you need to set it up every time you connect it.
  • Replace the SSD: This more complicated process requires opening up the Steam Deck and physically replacing the main storage device.

How to Expand Steam Deck Storage With a Micro SD Card

The easiest and best way to expand your Steam Deck storage is by inserting a micro SD card. The Steam Deck operating system is set up to format SD cards and use them for game storage, so the entire process is very quick and painless.

You can use multiple small cards and swap them out as needed to carry a bunch of games wherever you go, but micro SD cards are available in capacities up to 1.5 TB if you have the room in your budget.

Here’s how to expand your Steam Deck Storage  with a micro SD card:

  1. Insert a micro SD card into the slot on the bottom edge of your Steam Deck.

    Inserting a micro SD card into a Steam Deck.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

  2. Press the STEAM button to open up the main menu.

    The STEAM button on a Steam Deck.
  3. Tap Settings.

    Settings highlighted on a Steam Deck.
  4. Select System.

    System highlighted on a Steam Deck.
  5. Scroll down, and select Format.

    Format highlighted on a Steam Deck.
  6. Select Confirm.

    Confirm highlighted on a Steam Deck.
  7. The Steam Deck will first test your SD card.

    A Steam Deck testing an SD card.

    If the SD card does not pass the test, remove it, put it back in, and try again. You can also try restarting your Steam Deck. If you experience repeated failures, try a different SD card.

  8. The Steam Deck will then format your SD card.

    A Steam Deck formatting an SD card.

    If your card is slow, this process will take a while.

  9. The formatting bar will be replaced with the format button if the process is successful, and you won’t receive a notification.

    Your card is formatted and ready to use at this point. Scroll down the left menu and continue to the next step if you want to set it as your default download location for new games.

    Down arrow in the left menu in Steam Deck Settings
  10. Select Storage.

    Storage highlighted on a Steam Deck.
  11. Select MicroSD Card, and press X.

    MicroSD Card highlighted on a Steam Deck.
  12. The SD card is now your default download location for new games.

Can You Use an External USB Drive With a Steam Deck?

You can use an external USB drive or flash drive with your Steam Deck, but the process is complicated and you will need to enter desktop mode every time you reconnect the drive. You also can’t charge your Steam Deck when an external USB drive is connected unless you use a powered hub or dock, and the battery will drain faster due to the power needs of the drive.

A Steam Deck with a USB SSD drive.

Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

The only situation where using an external USB drive would make sense would be if you have your Steam Deck plugged into a USB-C dock and rarely remove it.

If you really want to use an external USB drive with your Steam Deck, you will need to switch into desktop mode and then use the Linux terminal to mount and format the drive.

For the drive to work with SteamOS gaming mode, you’ll need to format the drive as NTFS. The drive will then work with your Steam Deck until you disconnect it. Each time you connect the drive, you will need to go back into desktop mode, mount the drive using the Linux terminal, and then return to gaming mode to use the drive.

Can You Upgrade the Steam Deck SSD?

If you purchased a Steam Deck that doesn’t have enough storage for you, it’s possible to replace the existing SSD with a new one. This process will void your warranty, but it isn’t any more difficult than upgrading the SSD in most laptops.

While it is possible to put a new SSD in your Steam Deck, that doesn’t mean you can put in any drive you want. It needs to be a 2230 M.2 SSD. Other drives either aren’t compatible or won’t fit.

It is possible to mod your Steam Deck to accept a larger M.2 2242 drive, but Valve warns that performing that mod will have an adverse impact on the Steam Deck’s ability to shed heat. The M.2 2242 drives also draw more power and run hotter than M.2 2230 drives, which can lead to overheating and shorten the lifespan of your Steam Deck.

Here’s how to upgrade your Steam Deck SSD:

  1. Remove the eight screws from the back of the Steam Deck.

  2. Pry the case apart using a plastic tool, starting at the top.

  3. When the top separates, pry apart each side.

  4. Remove the three screws from the metal battery shield.

  5. Remove the battery.

  6. Remove the SSD screw.

  7. Remove the SSD.

  8. Transfer the metal shield from the old SSD to the new one.

  9. Slide the SSD in place, press it down gently, and secure it in place with the screw.

  10. Reassemble the Steam Deck by reversing the steps taken to disassemble it.

  11. Download SteamOS recovery image, and follow Steam’s instructions to use that file to create a bootable USB.

  12. Connect the bootable USB to your Steam Deck.

  13. Hold Volume Down, and turn the Steam Deck on.

  14. Let go of the volume button when you hear a chime.

  15. Select EFI USB Device.

  16. When the recovery environment appears, select Re-image Steam Deck.

  17. When it finishes, you’ll have to set up your Steam Deck as if it were brand new.

  • Is 64GB enough for a Steam Deck?

    It depends on the type of games you want to play, but the budget 64GB version of the Steam Deck will likely fill up fast, so the 256GB or 512GB models are recommended for those who can afford them.

  • How do I connect my Steam Deck to a PC?

    Connect your Steam Deck to your PC with the Warpinator app. You can also stream games wirelessly from your PC or transfer files via a micro SD card, USB stick, or network drive.

  • How do I connect my Steam Deck to my TV or monitor?

    Use an HDMI to USB-C adaptor to connect your Steam Deck to your TV or monitor. Plug an HDMI cable into your TV or monitor, plug the adaptor into the USB-C port on your Steam Deck, then attach the HDMI cable to the HDMI end of the adaptor.

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