Using an External USB Hard Drive on PS4 with Firmware 4.5

One of the features that PlayStation owners have asking about for years is the ability to expand their console storage with an external USB drive. Now, with the upcoming System Software 4.5, that feature has finally become a reality.

It’s been stated that the external drive can be up to 8TB, so we ordered the cheapest drive that we could find, the cheapest that “felt comfortable” for this use that is. At $209, the Dollar per Gigabyte is quite affordable and it’s externally powered as well which keeps from drawing power from your PS4.

Here are the 4 and 8 Terabyte versions of the drive that we recommend, and for this test we obviously had to take it to the limit, so we’re testing the 8TB drive.

Recommended 8TB Drive

Recommended 4TB Drive

The tests were performed on a PlayStation 4 Pro with a 2TB drive installed internally. The toughest part of this whole process was actually finding which menu had the option to set the drive up for use. Once I found it, the entire process took all of five minutes.

– In the PS4 Settings menu, go to “Devices” and then to “USB Storage Devices”

– You’ll see the new drive listed, so select it. On the next screen, click on “Format as Extended Storage”

– Select “Next”

– Select “Format” *For the 8TB drive, formatting took less than five minutes*

– Click “OK”

– Tada!

Here’s what I’ve learned so far about what you can and can’t do with this additional storage:

  • The new external drive becomes the default location for application data for any game that you install from disc or the PSN
  • No application data can be transferred from the internal to external drive, so if you already have something installed on the internal drive, you must delete it then reinstall
  • *UPDATE* You CAN move applications and games to the external drive, it’s just kinda hidden! Go to Settings > Storage > System Storage > Applications > then hit Options and select ‘Move to Extended Storage’. It even allows you to move multiple items at a time, which is a welcome feature. The moves can take a little while depending on the size, so maybe do this before you go to bed some night (Thanks to Thomas Harrison-Lord for the tip!)
  • There’s a menu option allowing you to switch the default application data location back to the internal drive
  • Screenshots and Videos from Share can’t be saved on external storage, they will only go to the internal drive
  • The drive can’t be used for anything else once it’s setup, unless you reformat it obviously
  • The drive can be moved to another PS4 tied to the same account without needing to reformat it (info below)
  • The drive cannot be used under someone else’s account (screenshot below)
  • “Can the drive be used on another PS4 that’s tied to my account?”
    YES!
    I have to admit, this is a huge surprise, and I’m impressed that Sony has added this function but this comes with a couple of caveats.

    – First, when you want to move the external drive to another PS4, make sure that you remove it correctly. Hold the PS Button, and go to the Devices selection at the top of the Quick Menu. Choose “Stop Using Extended Storage” so that it properly “ejects” the device.

    Your PS4 doesn’t need to be rebooted or anything like that, but be aware that the icons for everything will remain even without the drive attached. An icon for an app/game on the external drive will include a small “!” indicating that it’s not currently available.

    ** If you don’t remove the drive correctly, here’s what you’ll see if you connect it to another PS4 **

    – Second, a game or application that’s stored on the external drive can’t also be stored on the internal drive of the PS4 that you’re connecting to. If it is and you try to activate the drive to use on another PS4, this alert will appear. You won’t be able to use this drive on that PS4 until you delete the game/app from either the internal or external drive.

    To use the drive on another PS4, simply connect it to the USB before you power the system on. Once it’s booted up go to the PS4 Settings menu, go to “Devices” and then to “USB Storage Devices”. Select the new drive and select “Use This Extended Storage”

    If everything is successful, you’ll see a Green light appear next to the drive

    – One last caveat is that any folders that you set up don’t transfer from one console to the other. You’ll need to set folders up on each PS4 separately, but they do remain on each console with each subsequent use of the external drive.

    In my opinion, Sony really did a fantastic job on this feature. For those that have a lot installed internally already, it really depends on how often you plan to travel with the external drive. If it’ll happen frequently, I’d suggest deleting everything from the internal drive of each PS4 and loading everything to the external drive instead.

    Since you can’t transfer from the internal to the external drive, it’ll take a bit of time to do this. But really, that’s a small price to pay if this feature is important to you. This should make a lot of “power users” very happy though.

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  • The 4TB drive you liked above, does it run on the power from the USB or has its own power source?

    • ChazzH69

      It has a plug, it does not draw power from the USB.

  • John Montegudo

    Sweet. Did you try to plug both the 4 and 8 in at same time?

  • Jbumi

    Thanks for this article! All the info I was looking for!! 😸

  • ChazzH69

    Amazon UK only go up to the 5TB for £120 but i can import the 8TB from Amazon US for £167.

  • Badboy, Inc.

    You can transfer between drives. Just go to storage in rhe options menu, choose which device you want and then hit the options button on the controller. The choice to move games will be there.

    • Yup, I wanted to test that before I updated the article, and it’s been done now

  • jhdoak

    What happens if I install a game to the external from a disc and then connect the external to a different PS4? I’m assuming I’ll need to insert the disc in the second PS4 to play the game, correct?

    • KRACK1LLA

      Yeah you still need to insert the disc in the second PS4 to play the game. I thought I’d test it with Resident Evil 7 to see what happened.

  • Yummy Coot

    I buy games from different regions in my PS4, if I set my main account as primary and the secondary as primary as well, can the external hdd be used by both accounts or just the main account?

    • Not sure if I can test that, but it should act as it does on the main PS4

  • Xoiea De Asis

    Omg! This is so awesome, my mind is already pre-planning which ones stays on the internal HD, arrrghhhh!! I can’t wait 😊

  • Rob L

    Anyone know if there is any issues with using a 4TB external that does not have its own power source and just pulls power from the ps4?

    • Chris Grae

      Good question. I think it won’t be a problem because now you already can backup data by just plugin in the USB (and use it as a power source). But for this feature it might be different.

    • It “should” be fine, but I’m always uneasy about power management from any USB port, which is why I recommend a drive with its own power

  • Chris Grae

    Great article, very nice! Only one question remains, which might be the most important. How is the performance of games and loading of it from the external harddisc?

    • It’s great! No problems whatsoever, and I’ve been playing some pretty intensive games the last couple of games.

    • BoomingEchoes

      Anyone with a stock HDD should see an improvement on most externals, since the stock drive doesn’t have the most amazing speed/specs. Even the cheap-o one used in the article is probably somewhat better.

      Those who upgraded though, that’s going to depend on what they moved on to. If anything the difference will be so small you won’t even notice.

  • Excellent work and happy to help out a little bit. A great read, well done!

  • Lifendz

    Once again, you guys write the best articles when it comes to explaining new functionality. Very concise and addressed all my questions and concerns. With backwards compatibility all but guaranteed going forward, an external drive is probably a great investment. Thanks for the info.

  • KRACK1LLA

    I did a quick test and it looks like you can use a drive formatted for Account-A using Account-B. The same limitations apply where each user must have a license for the game to start it. I just downloaded “3 on 3 Freestyle” on each account to test it out.

    • It’s all based on which PSN account is set as Primary on that specific PS4. If you take your external drive to someone else’s PS4, you’ll have to either:
      1. add your account to that PS4 and set as Primary for that PS4
      2. Log in to your account on that PS4

  • Renegade Bastard

    I read the article. Nice write-up and detailed information, Glenn!

    It was stated in the article that games installed to the internal HDD can be moved over to the external HDD. Interrogative, can said games that were transferred to the external HDD be moved back from the external HDD to the internal HDD they were originally installed on?

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  • dapsucksbigtime

    While using it as Extended Storage for storing all games, can you store movies and musics as well so that it can be played on PS4 Media app?

  • dapsucksbigtime

    While using it as Extended Storage for storing all games, can you store movies and musics as well so that it can be played on PS4 Media app?

  • Borg Warner

    Great article. Thanks for writing it. When you say that,

    “The drive can be moved to another PS4 tied to the same account without needing to reformat it”,

    does that only apply to PS4 Pros or can I go between an original PS4 and a PS4 Pro? Cheers.

    • KRACK1LLA

      I was able to move the external HDD from the PS4 Pro to the original PS4 and back. It’s very flexible in that sense.

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  • Tony Goku

    i have two questions:
    1.I currently have a 2TB interal HDD in my PS4 and are not happy with it (seems slower than SSHD I had and constantly beeps). What I want to do is put 4TB external on then transfer all games to it. After that replace internal HDD with SSHD again. Do you think that would work?
    2. I am confused of AC powered v USB powered as far is which one is better. I have emailed WD and Seagate and one said AC one said USB. Which do you recommend? I don’t leave PD4 turned on when not using it (would be the same with HDD) so like the idea of USB powered as far as it would power up when PS4 did but if AC powered performed better would rather go that way.
    Sorry for long post and thanks for awesome article.

    • 1. Sure, that’ll work but I’ve tested a hybrid and SSD drive and haven’t seen much if any performance improvements
      2. I prefer externally powered drives with game consoles simply because ai don’t “trust” the power provided over the USB bus from a games console

  • David A Bacher

    Seagate has a USB 3.0, 8TB drive that also has an integrated 2 port hub and offers charging voltage. I’ve not been able to test it yet (only just signed up for the beta), but can report back if it works if they patch me. 🙂 That’s the “Seagate Backup Hub.”

    It’s this drive specifically:
    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HD6ZLQ6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Note: As indicated, that charging ports are active even when the drive is powered down, and so this can be used to charge controllers, 3D glasses, a Vita or whatever.

    • Got a message in Twitter today that a drive with USB Ports (its own USB Hub) will NOT work for use as Extended Storage for this puropse

  • John Lian Castañeda

    Hi, I was just wondering if I can use a partitioned drive as my Expansion? And will format the specific partition I use or will it format the whole thing?

  • Ferguriz

    My brother and I share a PS4 (we each have our own account) but we share games and his PS+ subscription, does that mean that only one of us can use the external HDD even if we play in the same console? Therefore, will I not be able to play the games that he instals in the external HDD?