PS4 HDD Upgrade vs. Extended Storage – Pros & Cons
In the past, particularly before Sony decided to support external hard drive addition for PS4, users had only one option to expand the storage capacity of their game console, which is to upgrade the internal hard drive and replace it with a larger one.
This situation has changed since Sony released PS4 System Software 4.50 in Feb 2017, offering another option for its users in this regard.
The ease, flexibility and quickness of the use of this option is appealing, but what about other aspects, especially when compared with the first old method—The internal hard drive upgrade?
Well, in this article we will illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of each method, and eventually make several suggestions that suit all types of users.
PS4 Internal HDD Upgrade
In a nutshell, upgrading the PS4 internal hard drive means to replace the stock storage device that PS4 utilizes with another device that follows the compatibility standards specified by Sony for this purpose.
Note that the logic for listing the advantages and disadvantages below is primarily based on the assumption that PS4 stock hard drive is upgraded to Seagate Firecuda 2tb SSHD, which’s considered the best hard drive replacement for PS4 in terms of performance, capacity and price as a whole, all together.
The unique major advantage you’ll gain from upgrading the internal hard drive of PS4 is basically related to performance optimization. If performance is one of your priorities, then this is a mandatory step to take.
Here what you’ll gain from upgrading PS4 hard drive to an SSHD:
- Getting rid of the slow hard drive of PS4. Do you know that the stock hard drive of PS4 is a cheap and obsolete drive that implements old storage technologies and suffers from reliability issues after a year or so of heavy usage? (Read more). If you upgrade PS4 internal hard drive with a new modern drive, you’ll get the latest storage technologies that offer higher performance and better reliability. This becomes dramatically noticeable when you opt for an SSD or an SSHD.
- Improving the overall system performance. That’s because the PS4 system software can only be installed on an internal storage device, and if you replace the stock HDD with a faster one, the overall system performance will consequently increase.
- Notably faster game and application loading, as compared to the stock hard drive and external hard drive add-on. If you opt for an external SSD, it will be a little (not much) faster option than SSHD.
- High reliability and consistent performance. A drive like Seagate Firecuda SSHD is backed by 5-year limited warranty, which is a clear indication of its solidness.
- Everything can be stored locally as compared with an extended storage solution, you can’t store your game saves or trophies on the latter, but with the internal storage upgrade you can, just like you used to do before.
- Additional security and safety as compared to extended storage solution. This’s clearly perceived when your external hard drive is lost or subjected to vibration/shock that badly impacts its performance. Whereas the internal PS4 HDD upgrade stays inside the console’s body in a safe place.
- Save more rooms on your desk. It’s intuitive that any peripheral would occupy the place it’s put in. To some users, this is kind of a hassle, and upgrading PS4 internal HDD is rather a perfect solution.
As for the disadvantages of this method, we only could find three:
- Warranty void. If your PS4 is still within its 1-year limited warranty, you may want to wait until it ends, as any hardware modification you do on PS4 will void the warranty.
- Relatively high price as compared to the extended storage solution. While you have to pay less than $70 to get a good 2tb of extended storage with Seagate Backup Plus 2tb external hard drive, you need to pay for an internal hard drive upgrade almost $100 or even more, depending on the drive you pick, including the price of tools you need to fulfill the upgrade process.
- Almost 2 hours are needed to fully accomplish the upgrade process. That includes backup your data on the stock hard drive, install the PS4 System Software from scratch, and finally restore your backed-up data on the new drive. Although the whole process is very easy and flexible, a variety of users might find it a burden that they can’t tolerate.
- Maximum storage capacity you can get through this process is 2tb. And despite the possibility of working around that and being able to add up to 8tb using an additional equipment called Data Bank with a 3.5-inch desktop hard drive (read more), the legit upgrade process only allows up to 2tb due to the fact that there’s no larger drives compatible with PS4 HDD upgrade standards.
Any savvy would easily realize that these disadvantages are minor when taking the appealing advantages into consideration.
PS4 Extended Storage Solution
This solution wasn’t valid 2 years ago until Sony finally released its wide-range support for external hard drive addition, enabling users to extend the main system storage via connecting a dedicated external storage device (usually an external HDD) to PS4 externally through the USB port located on the rear of the console.
This method, although seems brilliant and so appealing, it has its own disadvantages as well.
Note that the logic behind listing these aspects is primarily based on comparing this solution with upgrading PS4 internal hard drive to an SSHD.
- Very easy and quick process. You can get extra storage on ready your PS4 within just 5 minutes. Just connect the external hard drive, format it with a special format utility offered by PS4 system once your external hard drive is detected, then you’re done.
- No warranty void. You can fully enjoy your warranty to its end without worrying about voiding it with this method.
- Data on PS4 internal hard drive is kept intact and untouched. Unlike the process of PS4 HDD upgrade that requires you to first backup your data then restore them on the new hard drive, this method doesn’t affect your stored data at all.
- Better data management. With this solution, you have two places to store your data, which gives more flexibility on classifying and managing your console’s content. This is helpful for users who share their PS4 with others (i.e. family members).
- Playing your favorite games on others’ PS4. You can simply take your external hard drive on which you installed your games, and play them on your friend’s PS4 without the need for them to purchase or install these games on their console. Just note that games won’t launch on your friend’s PS4 without a valid license, so make sure to keep your license key with you.
These advantages sound really appealing and will surely enhance the gaming experience of PS4 users.
So, what are the disadvantages then?
- It’s just an extended storage. That means the main PS4 system storage is still managed by the stock hard drive and subjected to its rules, which consequently means that there will barely be any performance optimization for the whole system, and due to the low-quality, old drive PS4 utilizes, your system is more vulnerable to storage failure and unstable performance in the future (read more).
- The external hard drive is totally possessed by PS4 System. Once you accept to use your external hard drive as a storage extension, PS4 system will format and encrypt it in a way that only PS4 system can read it. That means you have to bear in mind that you can’t use this external hard drive on any other systems, such as PC and MAC. Unlike the backup storage solution that makes this possible.
- Not possible to enjoy the power of SSHD. Although it’s possible to use the expensive external SSD with PS4 and enjoy its high speed, the situation here differs. An SSHD offers a remarkable performance gain when it’s only employed as an internal storage device. Using it externally makes it lose the power of the 2nd-tier SSD caching that’s a major player in determining the performance speed of the drive. Which leads the SSHD eventually to perform just like a mere traditional mechanical hard drive.
- Must connect directly to PS4 USB port. You can’t use a USB hub here, which means the external hard drive will totally rule that port as long as you need it.
- Requires additional room to occupy on PS4 table/desk. That doesn’t impress a variety of users who have limited place for their PS4.
- More cables around. While most people are trying to rid of cables, an external hard drive needs at least one cable to connect to your PS4. Worse is that when you opt for a stationary external hard drive which needs a power cable besides the USB cable.
- More vulnerable to damage and loss. While the internal hard drive stays safe inside the PS4 box, an external hard drive is subject to the possibility of loss or damage (if exposed to high shock/vibration as a cause of severe falling).
We believe that every PS4 user must make upgrading the internal hard drive to 2tb SSHD a top priority if they look forward to benefit from both performance optimization and storage expansion all together. If they need more storage space, they can go then for the extended storage solution after they have already upgraded the internal hard drive. That way you can get the advantages of both methods and take your gaming experience with PS4 to the next level.
It’s worth to note here though that we have addressed 5 best methods to expand PS4 storage that offer different innovative solutions that suit any need/expectation.