How to use an external hard drive to store games on PS5

Five months after its launch to the market, PS5 offers external storage for your games … but not in the desired way. Because this firmware update will not allow us to play our PS5 games from an external HDD, but it will still be necessary for them to be stored on the internal SSD of the console itself. Then, What will this patch really do?

Its function is actually designed to store PS4 games from a hard drive connected by USB to PS5, with the novelty that those games from the previous Sony console can be played from there. But let’s watch the process calmly and clear up all doubts that may arise from the start.

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Important: your external HDD needs another format


PS4 firmware 8.50 news message

This update for PS5 is accompanied by the PS4 update 8.50, and the latter has small print that you will not be amused. The reason? All the games that you have installed on an external PS4 HDD will be unusable after the update, since in order for the device to be recognized, it needs another format. Therefore it is mandatory formatting to be able to use it again.

Yes, you will have to re-download the games that you already had installed in an external HDD of your PS4, not only to be able to play them from PS4, but also (logically) to do the same from PS5, so arm yourself with patience or take advantage, by the way, to use a higher capacity one (supports up to 8 TB).

How to format the HDD for use on PS5 (or PS4)


The process is very simple, although the method differs between PS5 and PS4:

  • On PS5 you have to go to “Settings> Storage” and go to the “Expanded Storage” section to format as exFAT the external HDD
  • In PS4 it is from “Settings> Devices”, going to the section where the external HDD is located to “format as extended storage”

As soon as we do the formatting, both consoles will recognize the external hard drive so that we can use it and proceed to download and install the games from there. It has no more mystery. Yes indeed, on PS5 we are offered the option to install the PS4 games directly there, by checking its corresponding box in settings.

What you can do (and what not) after this patch


Unlike Xbox Series X | S, which did not offer any type of restriction since its launch regarding external storage, with the additional option of getting an external SSD with official license la mar de cuco, this update does not offer the desired advantages with said expanded storage on PS5 …

  • Can’t play PS5 games from external HDD
  • But it does store games, both PS4 and PS5

The only ones that can be played from expanded storage it’s PS4 games. This entails a sacrifice, on the other hand, since when playing from said HDD we lose the advantages of the internal PS5 SSD. Rather, this update is intended to free up space on PS5 separating the games from two generations of PlayStation, or simply by moving a PS5 game to that expanded storage temporarily, without having to uninstall it.

With this new format for our external HDD, what we download from PS4 from PS5, our PS4 will also recognize it to be able to play them from said expanded storage. But obviously the ones on PS5 don’t work on PS4.

In addition, on PS5 we will have the option to move to expanded storage when displaying the menu of a game, without having to go to the storage settings.

By last, saved games or captures will continue to be stored in the internal memory of the console, not in the new expanded storage, watch out.

How long does it take to move games to external HDD


This update also raises a question of interest: how long does it take to move any content from the external HDD to the PS5’s internal storage?

Here you lose the speed of the PS5’s internal SSD, of course, depending on the read / write speed of the external HDD itself. Here are several examples with the time it takes to switch from external HDD to internal PS5 SSD:

For another reference, the model used is a Toshiba Canvio Basics of 2 TB per USB 3.0 port, reaching a transfer rate of 5,120 MB per second.


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