PS4 Extended Storage vs Backup Storage

using an external hard drive on PS4

Many PS4 users are still not aware that they are able to use an external hard drive on their game console. On the other side, many of those who have knowledge about this matter don’t know for what purposes exactly they are allowed to use an external hard drive on PS4 and how to use it in the first place.

This article covers everything you need to know about using an external storage device on PS4, whether it’s an external hard drive or USB flash memory. You’ll learn about the two purposes of using an external hard drive on PS4, how to properly format it for the purpose you want, and how to make it ready for use. You will learn also the pros and cons of each purpose, and finally we’ll advise you of the best method to expand PS4 storage.

PS4 External HDD Purposes

You can use an external storage device on PS4 for two purposes only. Each purpose has its own requirements to meet, and you cannot use the same external hard drive for both purposes simultaneously. You need to first decide the purpose before proceeding with formatting the external hard drive for PS4, as each purpose has its own format method.

Extended Storage

This is the most popular option among PS4 users. It allows you to expand the PS4 system storage using an external hard drive without the need for replacing/upgrading the internal hard drive, although we recommend always to first upgrade the stock hard drive of PS4 with a more powerful drive like Seagate Firecuda 2tb SSHD for it offers a significant performance and reliability boost and a capacious 2tb of storage space. (Read more about that in: PS4 HDD Upgrade vs. Extended Storage – Pros & Cons.)

This option is just an alternative to internal hard drive upgrade NOT a standalone solution like backup drives.

The Pros

There are several advantages of the PS4 extended storage solution, which are:

  • No need to upgrade/replace the internal hard drive of PS4 in order to install more games and apps. You can do that now externally without touching the stock hard drive.
  • Using the PS4 extended storage solution is quick and simple, which makes it the favorite option for novices and non-savvies who fear falling into the hassles of upgrading the internal HDD. It only takes less than 5 minutes to get the external hard drive ready for use on PS4 as an extended storage solution.
  • The games installed on the external hard drive can be played on other PS4 consoles without the need of re-downloading and re-installing them. You only need to have the license key available with you to be able to activate these games on different consoles. (Note that you can’t copy games to the internal HDD of PS4, you can only MOVE.
  • It helps organize your games and apps, as having two portions of storage makes it easier to classify your games and apps based on importance or frequency of use.
  • It alleviates the heavy burden on the internal hard drive by making additional rooms for storage, which has slightly positive effect on the performance of games running on the external hard drive.

The Cons

While the Pros of the extended storage solution seems appealing at the first glance, enthusiasts don’t make it their first option for expanding PS4 storage due to its disadvantages, which are:

  • The PS4 stock hard drive remains in place without any change in this kind of solution. This drive is obsolete and old and is responsible for many performance-related issues, and changing it is a MUST for every enthusiast who looks forward to enhance their gaming experience with PS4. (read more in: PS4 Hard Drive Specs.)
  • It only expands PS4 storage without any remarkable performance boost.
  • External hard drives in general are more prone to reliability-related issues than internal hard drives. Just have a look at the heaps of comments in this article to realize what that means. All of that is because external hard drives in general need a more special care than internal hard drives, because they are subject to more electrical shocks caused by the surrounding environment and the wrong way of plugging/un-pluggining them into the USB port—All of which impacts on their functionality.
  • Cannot be used for backup purpose as it doesn’t allow copying function. Rather you only can move your games/apps from the internal hard drive to the external.
  • Game saves and screenshots can’t be saved on the external hard drive set as an extended storage.
  • PS4 system will fully format and encrypt the external hard drive used for the extended storage. Therefore it will be totally owned by PS4 and you can’t use it on any other system for any purpose, whereas the situation with the backup storage solution is different.
  • Supports only USB 3.0 drives larger than 250gb. That means you can’t use your USB flash memory for this purpose if it has less than 250gb of capacity, neither older external hard drives that don’t support USB 3.0 standard.

Taking all that into consideration leads us to confidently say that the best thing you can do to your PS4 console in terms of performance, reliability and storage expansion is to carry out an internal hard drive upgrade. You don’t really need to be a savvy to be successful here, just follow the simple PS4 HDD upgrade guide and things will go well for you without any hassle.

Backup Storage

You can use an external hard drive for backup/restore purposes, and this is what we recommend mostly to use external hard drives for on PS4 consoles. That’s because having a backup solution with you is a must in the digital world in case of emergency, where the extended storage drive fails to help.

The Pros

There are a few appealing advantages of using an external hard drive on PS4 as a backup storage device, that are:

  • It enables you to have a precautionary copy of the installed data of PS4 hard drive in case of failure/serious error, so that your fear of losing your data will be significantly eliminated.
  • It’s a standalone solution, which means that you can use it on different systems also, such as PC and MAC. Consequently, this means also you can store your media files (audios, videos and images) on the external hard drive in order to play/view them on PS4, whereas extended storage drive can’t do that.
  • Game saves and screenshots can be copied to the backup storage device.
  • Any USB storage device can be used for this purpose as long as it support USB connection, no matter what generation.
  • You can back up data from one console and restore it to a different console as long as you have a PSN account. Otherwise, you can only restore the backup file on the same console that created the backup.

That seems quite cool. Everybody of us needs a backup solution for our data lest lose them, and any serious gamer would surely want to get one.

But what are the disadvantages of this kind of solution?

The Cons

The cons of the backup storage solution are minor compared with its pros. We can guess a few cons here:

  • It’s a MERE backup solution that won’t do any other thing than BACKUP. That means it won’t work as a storage extension to PS4 HDD and you can’t play/run your backed-up games and apps on the external hard drive used for this cause.
  • It’s not possible to backup trophies. You have to sync them with PSN then download them once you restore the backup.

If you think these cons are not an issue, then take this solution seriously for your console, as it is mandatory to every enthusiast/power user.

PS4 External HDD Requirements

So, if you have eventually decided t get an external HDD for PS4, the next thing to be aware of is the requirements of using external hard drives on PS4. These requirements vary according to the purpose the external hard drive is intended for.

Extended Storage Requirements

Make sure the external hard drive you want to pick for PS4 and use as an extended storage meets the following standards:

  1. Configured with USB 3.x specifications. Older generations of USB are not supported.
  2. The drive’s capacity ranges from 250gb minimum to 8tb maximum.
  3. It’s a single-layer drive. Dual-layer external hard drives often cause problems on PS4 as PS4 system won’t be able to recognize the second layer. Therefore, the external hard drive will function with HALF of its original capacity on PS4.
  4. It’s NOT a hub external drive. That’s because hub external hard drives are integrated with USB hub to allow other devices to connect to it. PS4 system does NOT allow a USB storage device to connect to it via a USB hub. Simply it won’t recognize it.

Once you get a relevant external hard drive, you need to learn how to properly format and use it on PS4, which will be illustrated later in this guide.

Backup Storage Requirements

The requirements for the backup storage solution are minimal, and almost any USB storage device can fit well for this purpose.

All you need is a drive that conforms to the following conditions:

  • USB standard support (any generation).
  • No hub external HDD.
  • No dual-layer external HDD.
  • Intuitively must be large enough to hold the copied data.

Once your drive meets these criteria it needs to be formatted properly on a computer before being attached to PS4, which you’ll learn later in this guide.

Using PS4 External HDD

Once you have made up your mind why you want to get an external hard drive for PS4, you need to prepare it for use.

It’s very important to note that you have to connect your USB external hard drive DIRECTLY to PS4 into the USB port without any medium in between, such as a USB hub, as that won’t work well for you.

Backup Storage

If you have decided to use your external hard drive as a backup storage device, then you must first format it on a PC or MAC with either FAT32 or exFAT file system. For more details on how to perform this operation, please visit our article: How to Format External HDD for PS4 as Backup Storage

Now, watch the video below to know how to use it properly on Properly for backing up and restoring data:

Extended Storage

As for using the external hard drive on PS4 as an extended storage, you don’t need to format it externally, as PS4 will do this automatically for you. Just connect the external hard drive to PS4, and once it’s recognized, PS4 will offer to format it and you just have to proceed with the instructions illustrated.

Watch this video to learn how to do that step by step:

Conclusion

External hard drives are best used on PS4 for backup storage purpose. Many users, though, prefer to get one as an extended storage to avoid the potential hassles that may occur during upgrading their console’s internal hard drive. If you don’t care about improving your PS4 performance and add more reliability to your gaming experience with PS4, the extended storage is your number one choice.

We strongly recommend to upgrade PS4 internal hard drive first if you want more storage capacity and additional performance boost together, and get an external hard drive as a backup storage device.

After all, it is your choice and how you gauge your needs. The extended storage option is very appealing for almost all novice users who lack the sufficient technical knowledge. Otherwise, the backup storage option is preferred by enthusiast/professionals alongside the internal hard drive upgrade.

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2 Responses

  1. Gus says:

    Is it anyway to fix a defective external storage device?

    • PS4 Storage says:

      This type of error affects the core of the device. There’s no way to fix it by an individual. I am talking to you from a technical perspective.

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