How to download and store PS4 games and apps to an external HDD

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How to download and store PS4 games and apps to an external HDD

Keep even more games at your fingertips with an external HDD for your PS4

As part of the PS4 system software 4.50 which went live this week, you’ll see that we’ve added the much-requested ability to download and store your games and apps on an external HDD storage device. It’s super easy to set up and use an external HDD with your PS4 or PS4 Pro, but before you get started, this guide may come in useful.

Minimum HDD spec

The most important thing to remember before you buy a new storage device – or try to use one you already own – is to make sure it meets the minimum requirements for use with your PS4:

Connection: USB 3.0 or later

Storage: 250GB (min) – 8TB (max)

Note: There is no guarantee that all USB storage devices are compatible with your system.

Format your external HDD

Most storage devices will be a specific format out-of-the-box (usually FAT32/exFAT/NTFS/HFS). To prepare it for use with your PS4 you’ll need to format it to a special type to ensure it will work:

  • Go to the Settings menu from your PS4 home screen.
  • Scroll down to the Devices menu.
  • Choose ‘USB Storage Devices’.
  • Select your external HDD, then choose “Format as extended storage”.

You’ll see a number of warnings that formatting your device will remove any previously installed data, so before you hit ‘OK’, make sure that there’s nothing stored on the device that you don’t want to lose.

It’s also important to note that once you’ve formatted your external HDD to this specific PS4 format, you can only use it for PS4 games and apps – you won’t be able to store screenshots and video clips, saved data, Themes or any other types of media, documents, pictures on it, without re-formatting to its original state.

Once formatting is complete, you’ll see a message confirming that it’s been successful and a small green light will appear next to the device’s name, letting you know it’s activated as the main storage location.

Installing games and apps (and adds-on) to your external HDD/internal storage

Once formatted, your external HDD will be set as the default download location as long as it remains plugged in.

If you want to switch back to your PS4 internal storage for downloads (and back again to the external HDD), that’s easy too:

  • Go to the Settings menu from your PS4 home screen.
  • Scroll down to ‘Storage’.
  • Choose which location you want to download to – either System Storage or your external HDD.
  • Press the ‘Options’ button and select ‘Application install location’ to set the target download location – either ‘System Storage’ or ‘Extended Storage’.


Moving games and apps onto your external HDD device

If you want to organise the games and apps that are currently installed on your PS4 internal storage, you can easily move them over to the external storage device:

  • Go to the Settings menu from your PS4 home screen.
  • Scroll down to the ‘Storage’.
  • Select ‘System Storage’, then ‘Applications’.
  • Press the ‘Options’ button, then choose ‘Move to Extended Storage’.
  • Choose which games and apps you want to move by ticking the boxes that appear next to their names. You can select as many as you like, providing your external HDD has enough free space to store them.
  • Select ‘Move’ then hit ‘OK’ to begin the transfer.


Removing your external HDD device

It’s very important not to remove your USB storage device when your PS4 is switched on without properly disconnecting it.

To remove the external HDD, access the Quick Menu by holding down the PS button on your controller, then choose ‘Sound/Devices’ then ‘Stop using extended storage’. Once that’s done, you’ll see a message that it’s safe to disconnect the device from the USB port.

Anything else?

  • When your external HDD is plugged in, games and apps will display as normal on your PS4 Home Screen, with the most recently played games appearing first.
  • If you don’t have your external HDD connected, the games you’ve played from it will still appear in your Home Screen list and Library – however, they’ll display a ‘!’ symbol to show that they can’t be played until the device is re-connected
  • You need to connect the HDD directly to your PS4. A USB Hub cannot be used in between.

So that’s it – no more agonising choices of which games to delete when that hot new title hits PlayStation Store. With up to 8TB supported for external storage, even the most avid trophy hunter should have plenty to keep themselves busy. Enjoy!

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18 Author Replies

  • Finally an extended storage for PS4! The external HDD is no longer a prerogative of XBox… Good job!

  • Does anyone know if the drive is linked to the system it is formatted by or to the users PSN account?

    • The drive will be connected to the PS4 itself.

      You can only store game data, apps and DLC, this will also be tied to the PS4 itself, not the user, but you will still require the owner of the relevant content to be signed in when you play. This will be for Primary systems only, you cannot store game data and use the HDD on another PS4 as it will require formatting to that system first.

    • What I think Max is trying to say, and I agree, is that it’s similar to when you move the drive of an old PS3 to a new PS3.
      It will automatically format it as a ‘new’ drive.

      You cannot just expect to get a 100 TB drive and take your games to your friend’s house easy

    • Apparently both these replies are wrong:

      According to that article you can take your HDD to any other PS4 so long as you’re signed in to the account associated with the games stored on it.

    • Thanks for the help. I was mainly interested in finding out for the future when I get around to getting a PS4 Pro. I just really don’t want to have to redownload or reinstall most of my games. Some of them are absolutely massive, especially ESO.

    • Hi – Bumblebee’s reply is correct, you can plug your HDD into any PS4, but to play the games installed on it you’ll either need the disc that the data came from, or be signed in with the PSN account that downloaded the game.

      If you’re upgrading to a PS4 Pro, you should be able to just plug in and play without re-downloading anything.

  • I do have a question regarding external HDD’s now this is a feature and only 1 external HDD is allowed.

    Let’s say you’ve plugged in a 2TB external HDD and transferred all your apps over to it and that is almost full of apps/games and you are looking to upgrade to a larger 4TB HDD.

    How do you transfer all the apps/game data from the external 2TB HDD to the new 4TB external HDD? Or is that a feature not available, or thought of, yet?

    • I think it’s not something they’ve thought of yet, which is why you’re only allowed ‘one’ external hard drive.
      Really, the only option in your case is to delete enough games with no updates and/or DLC to make both your internal and external drives equal the capacity of the former, and copy the data to the internal drive.

      Also, Hopefully, you’re not using a console with 500 MB of storage.

    • Thanks Val. I was just asking to future proof myself ???? I’m not a fan of deleting things if I don’t have to but it’s not a big deal. Options are always great!

    • Those question marks were actually a smiley face.. lol

    • It’s my understanding that you don’t have to only have one drive total, the limit is just one drive plugged in.

      So unless I’ve missed anything, there would be nothing stopping you either plugging in the drive that contains the app you want to play each time (admittedly there’s some dull record keeping involved there).or you can incrementally move stuff across, so fill the internal from the old external, switch drives, send that to new external… lather, rinse, repeat.

    • Just keep in mind you can only transfer game data to an external. No saves, themes, videos or screenshots.

    • ajnspencer is right – you’re not restricted to one HDD per console, just one HDD plugged in at a time.

  • Now if we only could download more then 5MB/s so we wouldn’t have to wait for games all day long. Game sizes now days are near or over 50 gigs and best broadbands support over 100 MB/s speeds (which Microsoft supports BTW!) but psn is still slow as heck. Any updates on this?

    • I have a 100Mb/s connection and I can confirm that some titles can be downloaded at the max speed (something like 8 MB/s), but some of titles, yes, have a limitation somewhere at the servers, so it can take a day to download a game. I personally think that servers with the games are based at producers’ side, like The Division at Ubisoft, FIFA somewhere at EA, etc, so Sony can do nothing with it.

    • Content servers (everything from store) are by Sony and on those limitations they can do everything about but they won’t. In game downloads on the other hand are maintained by publishers (EA, Ubisoft, etc) and on those Sony can’t do anything.

      On your network, when you’re getting 8 MB/s, you are not maxing out. 100 Mb/s bands maximum should be exceeding 10 MB/s as byte = 8 bits so 100bits/8 =12,5 bytes.

    • You’re never going to get 100% of your supposed speed all of the time. Many other factors affect it, such as subscription numbers/contention, and all the connections in between.

    • I’d have preferred it if we could select a location for each download/install on an individual basis, but it’s better than nothing.

    • yep it’s pretty terrible. for some reason downloading in rest mode is much faster for me though. in rest mode it uses about 1/3 of my avail. bandwidth. when the PS4 is turned on it only uses about 1/5 – 1/4! terrible!

    • Paranoimia the fact of the matter is that downloads on my xbox one are much much faster. xbox one uses about 4/5 of my bandwidth. whereas ps4 only uses 1/5 – 1/4 when it’s turned on, or 1/3 in rest mode.

    • mschulze0 Quite possible, but then the servers are in different locations, and the data from them will be taking a different route.

      The thing is, if it were down purely to Sony’s servers, everyone would have the same limits. Since they don’t, clearly other factors are in play.

      I don’t have an Xbox one, but I used to have a 360. Download speeds for that and my PS3 were always comparable.

      I have a 50Mb connection, and whatever I download tends to top out at just over 6MB/s, which is about right. So the idea that servers are somehow ‘capped’ at 5MB/s is clearly incorrect.

    • Paranoimia you’re connection is at the edge of limit, so you won’t see it. Anything faster is no use with PSN as speeds won’t improve. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it won’t exist. I have 200 Mb connection witch means I can download roughly 24 MB/s from anywhere but Sony. Even Xbox one maxes my connection that is direct competitor of Sony. Microsoft shows current download speed on GUI because they don’t have to be embarrassed.

    • I can’t really comment on what might be affecting your d/l speeds (mainly because I don’t know!), but I would advise to always use a wired connection whenever possible – it should make a massive difference.

    • I actually have answer from you guys (support) in my email saying that bandwidth is limited to around 50 Mbps per connection, this can be worse with heavy traffic. What I don’t get is, why nothing is done about it.

      And example with you, problem must be on customers end as Sony is perfect.

    • I’m told this works, if you can block entire subnets on your router:

      but you also need to unblock it to play after you’ve downloaded..

    • Thanks Ageranu for the tip! Have to give it a try. This is at the same time exactly what I’m talking about, why is there a need for workarounds when they could just provide the service every one is looking after.

  • Is it possible to download my games in my friend ps4 then move it to my new ps4 because my old one not working ?

    • I wouldn’t have thought so. Your trophies are attached to your psn account but games would more than likely have to be reinstalled.

    • If you’re signed in with your PSN account when to download the games then that should be fine – the game will be tied to your PSN account, not the console.

  • Does the external USB need to have its own power suply, or does the PS4 power it throught the usb connector?

    • That depends on the hard drive. 2.5″ drives with USB 3.0 should be fine. But 3.5″ drives will need to be powered by their own supply.

    • I think that depends on the type of HDD, as Bumblebee says. I’m using a 2TB drive and it’s powered from the USB port.

  • Which HDD is best? I have a seagate for my wii u and my ps4 is completely maxed out XD also, would I need a Y cable?

  • installing on the external drive doesn’t work for me. it always wants to install on the internal drive no matter what install location I set.

  • Why the pointless minimum size? I have a 240GB USB 3.0 SSD that I can’t use cause of the utterly pointless minimum size limit… Stupid.

  • If i install a agame to the external hard drive , will i still need to insert the disc to play the game ?

    • It doesn’t make any difference, if you start a “disc installed game” from internal or external drive, you will always need the disc to start the game.

    • Yep, it’s exactly the same as if you’d installed it on your PS4 internal storage.

  • What happens if i lose my external drive with my games on can i redownload them or what and can i take my games on a external drive go to my friends house log in as me and play my games

    • If your external drive isn’t connected to your PS4 the “external games” still appear in your Home Screen list and Library – however, they’ll display a ‘!’ symbol. Now, if you try to start a game the following message will show up:

      “To start the application, connect the extended storage device it is installed on. To install this application on another storage device, first delete it, and then download it again or insert the disc for it.”

      So, if you delete the Alias in your Home Screen list and Library, you should be able to reinstall/redownload the game/application.

    • Your downloaded games will stay in your library – you could just re-download them to a new HDD.

      And yes, you can log in on a friend’s PS4 and play your games.

  • I have changed my internal HDD 2 years ago, since that time my console seems to run more hot, the fans are almost always on.
    Can I take this HDD and plug it in USB, and put back the original HDD in my console ?
    Or it will automaticly format the usb one ?

  • But can i use two external hard drives? And move games between them.

  • I’ve been looking into external HDDs for a while and now since this update came out, what is the best brand of external HDD to go with that is compatible with the PS4?

  • I know this question will be somewhat off topic, but I think it would be better to simply upgrade my internal HDD.
    But I am uncertain which internal HDD to purchase.
    I would like to upgrade from my 500 GB to a 2 TB Internal HDD.
    Could someone link me the a good Internal HDD ?

    • I bought 2 TB SSHD and i am quite fine with it. It has better loading times than usual disk but MUCH cheaper than SSD disk which is IMO complete waste of money if you dont have ps pro with SATA 3 capability. Seagate is the only manufacturer of these

  • I alredy connected PS4 before,but I connected to PS4 next day,it say cant connect?WHY?

  • Can we have a partition? I.e. I use an 8tb external for backups but really only need well under 4tb. Can I partition it and use half for backups from pc and half for PS4?

  • It would be good to give advice also on rest mode, USB-powered drives and the continuous USB power setting.

  • What about Networked Attached Storage? My PS4 and TV are connected to a NAS and I have a spare 3TB partition I’d love to be able to use.

  • Can I use same disk on another PS4 when I create my account there, so console can check I own content on it?

  • Why do I have to leave 50gb free on my internal hard drive in order to play games off my external hard drive? What a waste of space

  • I upgraded to a 1tb hdd while back,I still have my 500gb,so how do I attach it to use as an external drive?

  • So, if the games are all on the external HD, and you run them like they are install on the internal HD, I’m wondering if there are any performance issues? Does the system run slower, hang up or stutter when playing resource heavy games like Destiny and Horizon Zero Dawn?

    • Might be quicker because usb3.0 can run faster than the internal drive

    • There is a slight lag/cut off but it depends on the game itself. For fast paced games like BlackOps 4, MW and such, i would transfer all those games to system storage.

      For games Red Redemption 2, Control, Assassins Creed, Dead Or Alive 6, Phantom V, etc they can all go to external.

      For games smaller than 3GB goes to system storage.

      I am using Seagate Portable 5TB, USB3. And it fills up fast! :(

  • If I go to my friends house and I want to play a game that is on the usb will the game saves stay or do I have to start a new game?

    • Save games won’t be on your USB device – but you can upload them to your PS Plus cloud storage, then download them when you sign in on your friend’s PS4.

    • How can I upload them to the PS Plus cloud storage

    • Settings – Application saved data management – Saved data in system storage – Upload to online storage

      You’ve got 10GB space, so plenty of room to upload everything you need.

  • Can you use a hard drive with built-in back up

  • does it work on usb pass through ports? i need help

    • No, you need to connect the USB cable directly to your console, not through any external ports or extenders.

  • Posted this on Sony Playstations facebook page and might aswell ask here too: I bought a Maxell Tank 4 TB with 3.0 USB and found out yesterday when I got it, that it’s not working with my console. My Ps4 Pro keeps telling me “no USB device connected”. I’ve turned the HDD off and on again, tried all the different USB-ports on the Ps4, no solution. And yes, it does work perfectly when I connect it to my PC. Googling this gives me a couple of results of people having the same problem with this particular HDD. Does anybody have any ideas?

  • I will try that when I get home – but from what I’ve read, the formatting won’t help since other already tried it with the same HDD. Won’t stop me from trying tho. Maybe my specific HDD will be added to the compatibility list in future. :)

  • Well y dont you post what external devices work for the ps4 sony its your JOB to do that unless we use the wrong external device and our ps4 goes wrong then its your falt sony

  • Would a dual-bay DAS (Direct-attached storage) with two HD set as individual drives (no RAID) and connected directly via a single USB port (no hub) work?

    The idea is to have one HD set as extended storage and the other as data (for saves backup/media).

  • Rhys, thanks for trying to answer as many of the questions here as possible. I have a question that you may not know the answer to immediately but it would be great if you could find out and get back to me:

    Say I have a game installed on the internal HDD but then following this external HDD firmware update some DLC is released (something substantial, say a new level/map pack). When the DLC is downloaded I believe its default install location will now be the external HDD? Will it cause issues having games and their DLC on different drives? If I download new DLC for an old game should I manually copy the installed game to the external drive too, so that everything is on the same drive? Or is the PS4 able to cope with bits of the same game being spread across different media?

    Many thanks in advance if you are able to provide any insight here.

  • What happens if I wanna upgrade to PS4 Pro? Can i move the games from my old PS4 to external hdd and then play them on my new console? I have many games and dont want to redownload the whole library.

  • Does it make any difference in terms of speed if you buy an external drive with seperate power source? Also if I want to buy an external drive, how do I know if its a 7200 rpm or 5400 rpm drive, in most case there’s no information about that.

    • I don’t think the power source makes any difference. You should be able to find information about speed – and if it’s USB3 etc – on the product packaging.

  • I have found an old harddrive that i plugged into a USB3 enclosure and its currently formatting. Does it have to be a “SATA 3” drive or would SATA 1 and SATA 2 also work as an external harddrive?

    Its currently formatting and its taking a long time to do :(

  • So my friend is asking if its possible to copy my games to a hard drive then give it to him to where he can download the games on the hard drive, is this possible?

  • Can I move the games back to a ps4 from the external HDD? I assume so, but I have not seen that specific information.

  • if we put fifa 17 on the HHD and after we go to a friends, and on the friend’s ps4 we put the fifa 17 so my friends shell have the fifa 17 in his ps4 even if the HDD is disconnect????

  • Hi , I bought this External HDD drive: for my first generation PS4. Are the 2 usb ports of my PS4 3.0?

    • As long as the HDD is USB 3.0, it should work with any PS4 (mine is an original 1st gen console and it works perfectly).

  • If we put fifa 17 on the HDD drive and after we go to a friend’s house, and on ps4 of the friend we put fifa 17 who was on the HDD is what my friends will have fifa 17 in the ps4 even if the HDD drive is disconnect ????

  • So the new games get installed on the new hard drive, but if you want to play an old game that is downloaded on the internal drive, will the PS4 automatically open it, using both drives, depending on where the games are saved? Or do you HAVE to move any game you still want to play to the new drive?

  • I just recently bought an 8tb hard drive to go with my ps4 pro, but the capacity shows 8.01tb on the system and 7.6tb on computers. I tried making a partition to lower the capacity, but it didn’t work. Anybody have ideas on how I can fix this without having to downgrade to a 6 or 7tb?

  • So will my screenshots and everything that won’t go onto my HDD still be saved to my PS4’s internal storage? Even while my HDD is being used?

  • I’ve come across an issue. Since adding an external hard drive, disc based games that i had installed on the internal drive wont start.

  • Update: I tried moving two of the installed games to the external drive (Horizon and Yakuza 0) but neither would run still. So far got Yakuza 0 running by deleting the data and reinstalling. Will I need to do this for all of my disk installed games or will this be patched?

  • So today i bought a seagate 3.0 8tb external hd. I plugges it in and formatted it. I then installed about 30 disc copy games i had deleted of my internal hd awhile ago to save space. My game saves were still there. However, when i load the games ive re installed onto my new external hard drive i cant access any of my saves. Ive platinumed some of these games and id like to pick up where i have left off. When i launch the games though it shows no gake saves and i have to start back at square one. Please help

  • If I download and install my games on to the external hard drive, can I play them directly from it? Or do I have to transfer them to the internal hard drive first? Please advise. Thanks in advance!

  • But can I use the hard drive for other content on let’s say my Mac or pc. Projects, music, homework. Things of such?

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