How to Format and Use an External Hard Drive on PS4

Running out of storage space on your PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro? Here’s how to format and use an external USB hard drive so you can install games on it.

You can install a new hard drive in your PS4 but it’s also possible to use an external USB hard drive. The latter option’s particularly handy if you’ve got an old 3.5 inch hard drive lying around, or don’t like the idea of opening up your console. Here’s how to go about using a 3.5 inch or 2.5 inch external drive.

  1. Get an external USB hard drive that supports USB 3.0. You can buy these, or you can purchase an external USB caddy if you’ve got an internal hard drive lying around.
  2. Turn on your PlayStation 4. Don’t plug the hard drive in just yet.
  3. Plug the USB hard drive into one of the two USB ports on the front of the PS4. Or, if you’ve got a PS4 Pro, you’ll find an extra USB port at the back of the console.
  4. The PS4 will likely complain that the drive’s not appropriately formatted, so go to Settings – Devices – USB Storage Device.
  5. Choose the USB device and hit X. You’ll be given the option to format it as Extended Storage. Do so, selecting next and format until it’s finished. If you’re using a USB 2.0 drive it may complain it’s too slow, but you can still format it.

When it’s finished formatting, applications will, by default, be installed on the external drive. If you want to change this, go to Settings – Storage. Then, on the internal or external drive, hit the options button. You can select either as the default install location.

Once your drive is formatted, though, it can be used on that PS4 console and that one only. If you try to plug it into another PS4 console, it’ll ask you to format it again, deleting any content that’s on it. You can plug an Xbox One external hard drive into any console, but that’s not the case with PS4, so bear that in mind if you plan to swap your games between consoles.

A final word of warning: the PS4 can only support one external drive, unlike the Xbox One which can support two.