How to Format External HDD for PS4 as Extended Storage
Since the release of PS4 System Software 4.5, users are now allowed to use their external hard drives as a storage extension to the main system storage, a much long-awaited and exciting feature that a wide variety of PS4 users constantly pressured Sony with their complaints of its nonexistence.
So, finally Sony yielded to the pressures that seemed awfully tremendous to the extent that Sony feared to lose more audience in favor of its competitors in the market, especially Microsoft with its Xbox One game console.
Now, with the release of PS4 System Software 4.5, you have two options to use your external hard drive on PS4—Either use it for backup and restore purposes, or use it as an extended storage on which you can store/install your games and applications. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages that I strongly recommend you to be aware of before deciding which route to take.
In this guide we address using an external hard drive on PS4 as an extended storage, and we lay out the major advantages and drawbacks of this method. If you wish to learn more about the other method that uses the external hard drive as a backup device, including its advantages and drawbacks, please visit our article: How to Format External HDD for PS4 as Backup Storage.
Using Extended Storage on PS4
Setting up an external hard drive to work as an extended storage grants PS4 users some major privileges that enhance their experience with PS4 and add more flexibility in how to organize games and applications. On the other hand, you have to waive some important features given to you by the other method.
Advantages of Extended Storage
The extended storage method offers the following advantages:
- Storing games and applications on it, either directly from the Internet, or by moving them from the internal hard drive. Then you can launch them the same way as you do as if they are on the internal hard drive.
- The possibility to transfer games between PS4s. It doesn’t mean you’re able to share or copy these games to another PS4, rather it means that you can store a game on your external drive, then take it over to a friend’s house and play it on their console without having to download it all over again – very handy for those 50GB+ installs.
- By having two storage places, it’s now easier to organize your games and applications based on their importance and frequency of use.
- You don’t have to go through the hassles of upgrading/replacing the internal hard drive that includes cloning the old hard drive, then re-installing system software, and finally restoring the backup file, all that is just for the sake of expanding the system storage the old way.
These advantages seem appealing, and almost every PS4 user was anxiously waiting for them. But unfortunately, this method is not free of drawbacks.
The drawbacks of this method appear when compared to other PS4 storage expansion methods.
- Unlike the internal hard drive upgrade, you can’t install the PS4 system software on an extended storage. That means if optimal system performance is one of your concerns, this method will disappoint you.
- You can’t import video and audio files from an external device to the extended storage, whereas it’s possible with an internal hard drive.
- Game saves cannot be stored on an extended storage. That’s possible either locally on an internal hard drive, or on an external backup device.
- Unlike the backup method, the external hard drive used as an extended storage will be totally formatted and encrypted by PS4 system, which means first that you’ll lose any previously-stored data, and secondly, you won’t be able to have any kind of external interference outside the “reign” of PS4. As a result, the external hard drive will be totally owned by PS4 system, and you can’t use it on other systems like PC or MAC unless you re-format it and destroy all installed data.
- Backup & Restore tool offered by PS4 system doesn’t work with the extended storage. That means you can’t take a backup copy of it.
- You can’t stream movies from the external hard drive and watch them on PS4 using this method, whereas it’s possible with the internal hard drive and backup device.
- Unlike the case with internal hard drives, you won’t be able to take a backup copy of the extended storage data, taking into consideration that the system only allows ONE external hard drive to be attached, and it should be connecting directly to PS4 USB port, not via any USB hub.
Most of these drawbacks can be resolved by getting another external hard drive as a backup storage.
How to Format..
Before going through the format process, you have to meet the following conditions in order for your external hard drive to become an extended storage:
- Only USB 3.x connectivity is accepted.
- The external hard drive capacity should be between 250mb minimum to 8tb maximum.
- The external hard drive must connect directly to the USB port of PS4. Using a USB hub for this purpose is not allowed.
- Make sure to download the latest PS4 System Software update and install it before starting the format process.
Once you are ready, implement the following instructions and you’ll be done.
1)► Plug the USB 3.0 drive into your PS4’s USB port, then go to [Settings]
2)► Then [Devices]
3)► Then [USB Storage Devices]
4)► Press the [X] button to select the new drive
5)► Select [Format as Extended Storage] (Note: Formatting will erase everything on the drive!)
6)► Select [Next]
7)► Select [Format]
8)► Once the formatting is complete the drive will now show up under [Settings] > [Storage] as Extended Storage
Your external drive is now setup for PlayStation 4 external storage, and will be used as the default location for game and app installations.
Installing games and apps
Once formatted, your external HDD will be set as the default download location as long as it remains plugged in.
If you want to switch back to your PS4 internal storage for downloads (and back again to the external HDD), that’s easy too:
- Go to the Settings menu from your PS4 home screen.
- Scroll down to [Storage].
- Choose which location you want to download to – either System Storage or your external HDD.
- Press the [Options] button and select [Application install location] to set the target download location – either [System Storage] or [Extended Storage].
Moving games and apps
If you want to organize the games and apps that are currently installed on your PS4 internal storage, you can easily move them over to the external storage device:
- Go to the Settings menu from your PS4 home screen.
- Scroll down to the ‘Storage’.
- Select [System Storage], then [Applications].
- Press the [Option] button, then choose [Move to Extended Storage].
- Choose which games and apps you want to move by ticking the boxes that appear next to their names.
- You can select as many as you like, providing your external HDD has enough free space to store them.
- Select [Move] then hit [OK] to begin the transfer.
External HDD Removal
It’s very important not to remove your USB storage device when your PS4 is switched on without properly disconnecting it.
If you need to remove your external hard drive from your PS4 for any reason, hold down the PS button to bring up the Quick Menu, then select [Stop Using Extended Storage] to safely shut it down before unplugging it. Once that’s done, you’ll see a message that it’s safe to disconnect the device from the USB port.
Here are a few notes to take into consideration regarding this method. Some of them are reminders, just in case you find a repetition in this section.
- When your external HDD is plugged in, games and apps will display as normal on your PS4 Home Screen, with the most recently played games appearing first.
- If you disconnect the external drive while the console is powered on, data loss or corruption may occur.
- If the system is not shut down correctly, you may get a message that the external storage drive needs to be repaired. When it happens, the process won’t usually take long and you’ll not notice any loss of data.
- If you don’t have your external HDD connected, the games you’ve played from it will still appear in your Home Screen list and Library – however, they’ll display a ‘!’ symbol to show that they can’t be played until the device is re-connected.
- You need to connect the HDD directly to your PS4. A USB Hub cannot be used in between.
- Of course, if you ever decide to use this external drive with a Mac or Windows system, you’d need to reformat the drive again to the appropriate format — the PlayStation 4 file system is not recognized by Windows or Mac.
The Extended Storage feature is a great aspect of the new PS4 system software that might redeem some of the lost popularity of PS4 due to its restrictions on this matter.
If you wish to learn about the different methods of expanding the storage capacity of PS4, please visit our article: Best 5 Methods to Expand PS4 Hard Drive Storage.
It’s worth to note that Sony has made a quick guide on formatting an external hard drive as an extended storage on this link.