How to Format External HDD for PS4 as Backup Storage

the right way to format an external hard drive for PS4
Since the first release of PS4, a wide variety of PS4 users were complaining of their inability to use an external hard drive on their PS4 console even for a backup purpose until the release of firmware update 2.5 that allowed the usage of a USB storage device for backup/archive only, then later, with version 4.5, users were enabled to use their external hard drive as a storage extension to the system storage. (It means that with an external HDD add-on you can now expand the system storage and have the ability to store/install your games and applications externally and play them just like you do with the internal hard drive).

We have addressed earlier the Extended Storage option in detail, laying out the major advantages and disadvantages, and how to format and use it the right way. All of that and more in our article: How to Format External HDD for PS4 as Extended Storage, and in this article, we’re going to do a similar thing.

Using Backup Storage

Being able to use your external hard drive as an extended storage simply cannot take the place of the backup option, as both options have their own purposes.


With a Backup Storage option you’ll have the following advantages:

  • You can use it for backup and restore purpose. Keeping a clone/copy of your PS4 hard drive is a precautionary step against any unexpected failure the internal hard drive might suddenly undergo. It’s also very helpful if you’re looking for upgrading the stock hard drive with a new drive.
  • You can keep a copy of your game saves without the need for launching a thorough backup process.
  • The possibility to use the external hard drive on other different systems as well, like Windows and Mac without the need for reformatting it and losing all stored data. In other words, it won’t be totally and exclusively possessed by PS4 system like the case with the second method.
  • The ability to stream videos on PS4 directly from the external hard drive. You simply need to store these videos first on the external hard drive using your computer, then enjoy watching them on PS4 after installing the Media Player application.
  • Beside streaming, you can export these videos to the PS4 internal hard drive. This is a great feature if the internal hard drive is vast enough.
  • Maximum size is unlimited. This is great news for enthusiasts and power users who have heavily use their PS4 console.


As a backup solution, this option cannot be used as a storage extension, therefore you will lose some important privileges given to you by the Extended Storage option (click here to view them).

Additionally, because this option is basically intended for backup, we will only compare it with other backup solutions made for PC’s and Mac’s.

The drawbacks are:

  • You can’t backup the PS4 System Software. Therefore, if you need to replace the internal hard drive for the sake of upgrade or because a serious failure occurs, you have to download first the full version (more than 850mb file size) from PS4 official website, install it, then you can restore your backup data on the new drive.
  • You can’t backup individual games separately. It’s either that you backup them all together or leave them all together.
  • Unlike other backup solutions for PC and MAC, it’s not possible to update the existing backup file. Rather you have to repeat the whole backup procedure to make a new, additional backup file.
  • Trophies are not included in the backup data. You have to sync them with PlayStation™Network.
  • PS4 System doesn’t allow partitions on the backup device. So, you have to use the full space as one partition.
  • You can’t view the content of the backup file, neither launch any application within it.

Eventually, you’ll find yourself compelled to use two external hard drives, one as an extended storage and other as a backup storage.

exFAT vs FAT32

Whether you’re formatting an internal drive, external drive, USB flash drive, or SD card, Windows will give you the choice of NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. But PS4 only supports two of these file systems—FAT32 and exFAT.

FAT32 is an older file system that’s largely relegated to USB flash drives and other external drives. Windows uses NTFS for its system drive, and it’s also ideal for other internal drives. exFAT is a modern replacement for FAT32, and more devices support it than do NTFS — although it’s not as widespread as FAT32.

FAT32 File System

FAT32 was first introduced all the way back in Windows 95 to replace the older FAT16 file system promoting new major improvements and breaking the limitations of FAT16.

When compared to exFAT which was first introduced in 2006, FAT32 is too old, and because of its long age it’s the defacto standard. Flash drives you purchase will often come formatted with FAT32 for maximum compatibility across not just modern computers, but other devices like game consoles (including PS4) and anything with a USB port.

Limitation of FAT32 on PS4

When considering using an external hard drive for PS4, the most significant problem with FAT32 is the maximum file size it allows. Individual files on a FAT32 drive can’t be over 4GB in size — that’s the maximum! That means if your backup file is larger than 4GB, it cannot, by any means, be saved on a drive that’s formatted with FAT32, whether it’s an external or internal drive. That makes FAT32 unsuitable for the external hard drive that’s intended to be a backup storage for PS4.

But what about exFAT?

exFAT File System

exFAT file system is the best for PS4 external hard drive. exFAT’s debut was in 2006, and older versions of Windows (particularly Windows Vista and Windows XP) where given the support for that file system via update patches.

This certain file system is optimized primarily for flash drives. It’s designed to be a lightweight file system like FAT32 without all NTFS’s extra features and overhead, but without FAT32’s limitations.

Like NTFS, exFAT has very large file size and partition size limits (Maximum 16EB. That’s too much to even just imagine!). This indicates you can store a backup file with 1tb apiece or even larger without any hassle if your external hard drive is formatted with exFAT. exFAT is a strict upgrade over FAT32, and should be the best choice for external drives where you want a lightweight file system without FAT32’s file size limits.

For more information on the difference between FAT32 and exFAT, please visit this page.

Formatting an External HDD for PS4

The process of formatting the external hard drive for PS4 is very easy and can be done in a very few steps. You’ll only need a computer (desktop or laptop, doesn’t matter) then format it from there. We’ll explain this method using Microsoft Windows 8 operating system.

1)Attach the external hard drive to your computer.

2)Open [Disk Management]. In Windows 8 this can be achieved by moving the mouse to the bottom-left corner of the Desktop and right-clicking on top of the Start menu screen.

3)From the menu, click on [Disk Management].

Note: On other versions of Windows, Disk Management can be accessed through Control Panel, going to [System] > [Administrative Tools] > [Computer Management].

4)Disk Management will display the various disks that are available in that system. Locate the desired drive by looking at the drive information and drive size. When ready, right-click on top of the drive that is to be re-partitioned and reformatted, and click on [New Simple Volume]….

5)The [New Simple Volume Wizard] will appear. Click on [Next].

6)Leave the size of the volume to be the maximum disk space so it has only one volume. Click on [Next].

7)Assign a drive letter for the drive to have once the process is at an end. Windows will automatically assign one, but this may be changed if so desired. When ready, click on [Next].

8)In the Format Partition section, select the File System to be exFAT and change the Volume Label to a desired name for the drive. Make sure the Perform a quick format check-box is highlighted, and when ready click on [Next].

9)The Wizard will display a summary of the selected settings for review. It is important to know that formatting and partitioning the drive will erase all data that is on the drive. If there’s no needed information within the drive, then click on [Partition]. If there is data on the drive that is needed or is not backed up, it will need to be copied to another location before proceeding. If ready, click on [Finish].

10)The drive will indicate that it’s Formatting for a few seconds, and once done, it will display as a Healthy (Primary Partition), and the drive will be available in the Computer area of Windows under the assigned drive letter.

That’s all. You’ll have now an external hard drive companion for your PS4 that on which you can store your favorite movies to watch on PS4 and use it as a backup storage.

It’s worth to note that PS4 has an official manual on the Backup & Restore feature that it may make some value to you. Click here to view it.


There are some important advantages you’ll gain by using your external hard drive as a backup storage. On the other hand, you’ll lose the advantages given to extended storage option. An enthusiast will want both, so he will have two external hard drives. Whereas regular users are supposed to be well enough with the extended storage option.

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