Xbox One External HDD Guide

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Seagate External Hard Drive. Seagate
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A key feature of the current - XONE / PS4 - generation of game systems is that you install every game to the hard drive.  Unfortunately, since the games all come on Blu Ray discs, plus can have massive updates and DLC, a single game can take up 40-60+ GB of the tiny 500GB internal HDD (of which less than 400GB is actually usable to you).  This means you run out of space really quickly.  Luckily for us, we have options.

  It means spending a little more money, but you'll be thankful for it in the long run.

On PS4, you can easily swap the internal hard drive.  On Xbox One, you can't swap the hard drive for a new one, but you can do something even better - use an additional external hard drive.  This means you get to use the 500GB internal drive, plus up to two additional external USB HDDs with many terabytes of storage to hold all of your games.  The PS4, just for the record, doesn't allow you to install games to external HDDs. 

Requirements

You have a wide range of options for external HDDs on Xbox One.  You can use any HDD that is 1. USB 3.0, 2. At least 256GB, 3. At least 5400rpm.  From there, any brand and any size is up to you.  Faster read speeds and higher capacity cost more, of course.  Solid state drives can offer the best performance, but cost more.   You can get a decent 5400rpm 1TB external USB 3.0 HDD for around $60.

Recommendations

  • I am personally using this Toshiba 1TB HDD and haven't had any problems.
  • Microsoft has recommended drives from Seagate like this 2TB drive.

Any drive that meets the requirements will work, though.

How To Use An External HDD With Xbox One

Using an external HDD is surprisingly simple.  They are USB-powered, so no need to plug them into an A/C outlet or anything.

  Just plug the USB cable into the USB port on the back of your Xbox One, and you're good to go.  You'll need to format the drive before you can use it for games, but the XONE will do that for you.  The drives are usually very small, so just tuck them somewhere out of the way (but try to give them plenty of ventilation as they can get hot). 

Improved Performance

Here is something interesting about using an external HDD on Xbox One - it can actually load games faster than the internal drive because it can transfer data quicker.  Simply put, USB 3.0 is faster than the SATA II connection the internal drive is connected with, thus, using even the same 5400rpm speed that the internal drive uses, you will actually load games a little faster from an external drive.  Opt for a 7200rpm external drive, or a solid state drive, and games can load even quicker.  We're talking many seconds faster load times. 

Do You Really Need An External HDD?

While there are definite benefits to using an external HDD with your XONE, don't misunderstand and think it is a necessity or requirement or anything.  Consider what games you're going to be playing, and how many, and decide from there if you need an external drive.

  Personally, I never would have made it through the first two years of the Xbox One's life without an external drive (Halo MCC, Forza Horizon 2, and Sunset Overdrive are 130GB just by themselves!), but most people aren't going to be playing dozens of games in just a few months.  Still, you'll fill up the internal HDD just with Games With Gold titles after a while, so looking into an external HDD isn't a bad idea.       

Bottom Line

You can certainly get by with the 500GB internal drive by deleting old games and reinstalling them when you want to play them, but if you have to re-download large games it can be a real pain depending on your Internet speed.

  Like I said, think about how you're going to use your Xbox One and then decide if you need an external drive or not.