Whether you have a PlayStation 4 or a PlayStation 4 Pro, as an active user of the console you will eventually run into a lack of space. The consoles come in roughly two flavors: 500 gigabytes and 1 terabyte, but with games that average 10 to 20 gigabytes in size, those hard drives are naturally filled very quickly. Fortunately, that doesn't have to be a problem anymore. This is how you connect an external hard drive to the PlayStation 4.
Since software update 4.50 in 2017, it is possible to connect an external drive to your PlayStation 4, allowing you to significantly expand the storage capacity. But what kind of disc do you need, how do you prepare it for the PS4 and how does the PS4 know which disc to use?
In this article, we will discuss expanding the storage capacity of the PlayStation 4 using an external hard drive. We're doing this because it's the easiest way to expand storage capacity and doesn't require you to do anything to your PS4 that will void the device's warranty. That said, it's also perfectly possible to replace the PS4's internal hard drive.
The PS4 does not contain an SSD but a hard drive with 5400 RPM. In short, that can be done a lot faster. If you were to replace the standard hard drive of the PS4 or PS4 Pro with an SSD, games would immediately load a lot faster. However, you have to unscrew the PlayStation 4 and take a lot of other steps for that. For example to make sure that all data from the old drive is also on the new one, otherwise the whole PS4 will stop working.
PS4: SSD or HDD?
We already indicated that working with an SSD is a lot faster than working with an HDD. From this you might deduce that it is wiser to purchase an SSD as an external drive, instead of a traditional hard drive. However, SSD is not by definition the most logical choice. SSD is more expensive than a hdd, so the choice quickly falls on a drive with less storage capacity, such as 1 TB or 2 TB. That is of course more than what you get from Sony itself, but for the same money or less you buy a 4 TB HDD. And that really makes a big difference.
But should you choose speed or space? We'll make the choice a bit easier: whether you go for an SSD or a modern HDD (such as the Seagate 4TB Portable), games will load faster than on the standard disk of the PS4 and PS4 Pro, because it is very slow. That is why we went for a 4TB HDD: not the fastest solution, but faster than what we had and very affordable.
When you go to a game store and ask for a hard drive for your PS4 or PS4 Pro, the seller will most likely conjure up an official PlayStation 4 drive. That's tempting, because if the Sony and PS4 logo are on the packaging, then it must be good, right? That's certainly true, but there's really nothing different about the drive than the ones you find in other computer stores. So you pay for a logo. For example, we found the exact same disc, from the same manufacturer, with and without the PS4 logo, with a price difference of no less than 30 euros.
That is not so much a scam, because you are paying for the fact that you do not have to do your homework in this area. But if you do that homework, you will immediately save money.
Storage capacity and correct connection
When you buy a drive, it is important to consider in advance how much storage capacity you think you will need. You may think that 2 TB is enough. That would be fine if you suddenly run out of space on the internal hard drive after a year or two. It probably makes more sense that you've been binging for a few months now, deleting games you don't play very often, to make room for something new. In that case, we can tell you that 2TB is probably not enough.
As soon as there is more than enough space, you can download again to your heart's content, and we guarantee that you will have the disc completely full within six months (especially if you use PS Plus). We recommend getting a 4TB drive (if you go for hdd), because the balance between the price and what you get is very favorable at the moment. Whatever drive you buy, make sure it doesn't exceed 8 TB, as that's the maximum the PS4 can support.
The homework we talked about, for example, has to do with the fact that you have to have the right connection. The drive you're looking for is a hard drive with a USB 3.0 plug. It's not that USB 2.0 won't work, but the file transfer will be so slow that games will be almost unplayable. In addition, it is important that you buy a drive that gets its power via USB, and does not also need an external power supply.
Fortunately, there are more and more drives that meet these specifications, but that is something to keep in mind. If you're worried about buying the wrong disc, it might be a comforting thought to buy the official PS4 disc anyway so you don't have to worry about compatibility.
Connect external drive
If you have a PS4, there is only one way you can connect the external drive: through the USB ports on the front. If you have a PS4 Pro, you also have a USB connection on the back, but you are not supposed to use it. This port is specifically intended for other peripherals, such as PSVR. When you connect the external drive to this port, it will not work.
By the way, keep in mind that this means sacrificing a front USB port. Because you are not allowed to just pull out the hard drive when, for example, you want to charge a controller while you also have other peripherals connected (such as a portal from Dimensions, Skylanders, etc.). Should this become a problem, it is an idea to purchase an external charger for the controllers, so that you no longer need the USB ports for charging.
When you have connected the hard drive, you can't get started with it right away. Just like with a PC and a Mac, you will first need to format the hard drive so that the PS4 can read and write to it. Fortunately, that is not difficult, there are no further choices to make here. In your PlayStation 4's menu, navigate to Institutions and then to Devices/USB Storage Devices and then press the connected external drive. Note: You can only use one drive at a time as an external storage drive. If you plug in two, your PS4 will see them in this menu, but you won't be able to format it as a storage drive.
When you have selected the drive, press Formatting for extended storage. Then press Next one and Format (very badly translated of course). Finally, press Yes at the warning that all data will be lost, and the drive will be formatted. You will see that you lose a little space, but there will still be enough left for all the games you want to put on it.
You have now prepared the drive for use, but the drive in the PS4 is of course still just as full. If it's so full that you can't even save screenshots and videos, it's a good idea to transfer games from the internal hard drive to the external one. You can do this right after formatting the hard drive, but if you missed this option then navigate to Settings / Storage. Select System Storage and press the Options key on your controller. Choose Move to Extended Storage. Now place a checkmark next to the title(s) you want to transfer to the external hard drive and then click OK.
The selected titles will now be transferred to the external drive, this may of course take a while depending on the amount of titles you have selected. Of course, you can also restore titles from the external drive to the internal one in the same way.
Change installation location
When you have formatted a drive as extended storage, your PlayStation 4 will automatically save new games to the external drive. That may be a logical step, but of course you'd prefer to see things differently (for example, because you've moved all the games from your internal drive to the external drive, so the internal is now completely empty and offers space for games again). In that case, you can indicate that you still want to use the internal drive as default storage.
To do this navigate to Settings / Storage and press the Options key on your controller. Here you can indicate whether you System Storage (internal disk) or the Extended Storage (external drive) as the installation location from now on. You can change this at any time.
Remove External Drive
You should not just unplug the external drive from the PlayStation. This can lead to unreadable data on your hard drive, and may even require you to completely reformat the hard drive. No disaster, you can reinstall everything, but a lot of hassle. If for some reason you still want to disconnect the hard drive, you can do this by holding down the PS button on your controller, and then pressing in the shortcut menu Sound/devicen and then the option Stop using extended storage.
When you press this option, the data on the disk will be not deleted. You can compare it to the Safely Remove option that you click on in Windows before you remove a disk. It ensures that nothing is written to the disk and the disk is put into 'rest mode', so that it can be removed without risk.