Best 5 Methods to Expand PS4 Hard Drive Storage
To a wide variety of PS4 users, adding more storage space to their game console is highly important, and to some it’s even a must, especially with appearance of heavyweight high-end AAA-grade games, each which consumes tremendous amounts of the available storage space of the stock hard drive provided by Sony. This situation applies to all versions of PS4, whether it’s the base PS4, PS4 PRO, or PS4 Slim.
Few weeks ago Sony released its extremely-anticipated PS4 Software Update v 4.5 that offers an unlimited support for external storage devices to the extent that you can now use it as a fully functional storage extension to the internal hard drive. This wide-range support for external storage solutions has contributed to the methods used to upgrade the storage capacity of PS4 systems.
In the past, with the base version of PS4, you could only use an external storage device as a backup solution, nothing else. And the only way to get more “real” storage for your games and movies is to replace the stock internal hard drive with a larger one. But now the situation is very different, and you have now more flexibility with this issue.
Here, in this quick guide, you’ll learn the best methods you have on hand to expand the storage capability of your PS4, PS4 Slim and PS4 PRO.
But before laying out these methods, you have to bear in mind that there’s no way to dispense with an internal storage device in PS4 systems, for the fact that PS4 doesn’t allow its operating system to install externally. Plus, the game saves are only allowed to store locally on the internal storage device. This leads us to the conclusion that if you’re looking for a performance upgrade as well, the internal hard drive must be replaced.
Method #1: Upgrade PS4 with an SSHD Only
A Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) is a brilliant compromise between the super speed of SSD, the vast capacity of HDD, and a price as low as that of a mechanical hard drive. It smartly utilizes the SSD portion as a 2nd-tier caching medium, where the frequently-used data are stored for a future faster launch (usually after the 5th round).
For the overwhelming majority of PS4’s fanboys, including PS4 PRO’s, we recommend this method of upgrade over all methods, unless your needs are exceptional.
Advantages of this method
The advantages of this method are appealing to almost every PS4 fanboy, and they are:
- The overall performance of data-processing related operations will be optimized, including the operating system and its core applications, as well as your favorite games that you often play. That means you’ll experience faster boot-up and shorter load times of games and apps.
- Seagate offers a 5-year limited warranty on this drive, which indicates how reliable it is. With the latest storage technologies implemented, that means also you shouldn’t fear drive failure/defect in the near future like many PS4 users are facing with their stock hard drive.
- With a very reasonable price (less than $100) you can upgrade the internal storage of PS4 to up to 2tb, which can suffice your data storage needs for a long time.
- Everything is kept safe locally. You don’t need to seek the help of an external hard drive to extend the internal storage capacity to 2tb, which is the ideal capacity to the majority of users.
There are a few minor drawbacks with this method of upgrade that are:
- The real power of SSHD won’t unleash unless a particular game runs at least 5 times. Otherwise, the game will launch on the performance of a regular hard drive.
- You can’t go beyond 2tb and if that capacity limit is not enough for you, you’ll need an external hard drive addition.
- Although utilizing an SSD, due to its architecture the SSHD caching system can’t take full advantage of the speed of SSD. Therefore, bear in mind that you’ll get up to 80% of the actual speed of SSD.
There are not many options of SSHD to select among because there’s only one company in the data storage industry that produce SSHD in 2.5-inch form, which is: Seagate. Therefore, we’re going to recommend only one item in this section that represents the latest efforts of Seagate in SSHD space.
With this drive you’ll get the following:
- 2tb of storage capacity
- 128mb 1st-tier buffer cache.
- 2nd-tier 8gb SSD cache.
These features are sufficient to make a major improvement to the performance of PS4 systems.
For more elaboration, you can read a detailed review on this drive in this article.
Method #2: Upgrade PS4 with an SSD Only
In terms of maximum performance, upgrading PS4 hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD) is inevitable. It can speed up your PS4 system by up to 40%. The operating system will boot tangibly faster, the load time of heavyweight games will remarkably decrease, and switching between the game sessions will be real quick.
Advantages of this method
There’re a few advantages coming with this method that are:
- The overall performance of PS4 system will be noticeably optimized. Both the operating system and most games will load remarkably faster. (This is more apparent in PS4 Pro optimized games).
- Everything is kept in-house. You don’t need to seek the help of an external hard drive add-on in order to achieve the speed improvement.
- More reliable than regular hard drives. While it’s rare undergo operation failure with modern hard drives, it’s still more possible that with an SSD, especially if, for any reason, your PS4 is subjected to an electric shock.
The only drawback with this option is the high price. While the best high-end 1tb hard drive costs you around $60, the same capacity of a regular entry-level SSD costs you around $250.
You can go with up to 4tb of SSD storage, but then you have to pay more than $1,000, which totally doesn’t make sense at all.
Top 3 SSD Recommendations
Picking an SSD for a game console is not like that for a computer, bearing in mind that a computer is designed for multitask operations whereas a game console is not. Therefore, high-end SSDs should not be in your consideration at all, neither top-notch entry-level SSDs.
We try to present the best options to our readers, so we picked the listed-below SSDs based on the following factors:
- Prominent brand.
- High performance.
- Around 1tb of storage capacity.
- Model age isn’t more than 2 years.
- Minimum 3-year limited warranty.
So, here what we recommend:
Method #3: Using an External HDD Only
Since the initial release of PS4 in Nov. 2013, the major drawback of PS4 consoles was the absence of support for external storage devices. This added more credits to other consoles, especially xbox. But, since the release of software update 4.5, PS4 fully supports external storage devices and handles them as a fully-featured extension of the primary storage capacity.
Tests have shown that games performed noticeably better on an external hard drive than on the stock hard drive because of several factors, most importantly is that a modern external hard drive is more improved in terms of performance than the outdated, obsolete hard drive model PS4 is using. In other words, modern external hard drives have the latest storage processing technologies implemented in their architecture to perform much better than old drives, especially that’s related to the incorporation of larger cache memory which plays a significant role in speeding up the drive’s performance.
But, even though, the performance improvement an external hard drive offers is still less than what an SSHD offers, because of the 2nd-tier SSD-caching system an SSHD boasts.
Advantages of this method
- It’s the easiest and fastest way to gain more storage space. You just need to connect it to the USB port, let the system recognize it, then format it with the special format utility of PS4, and you’re done. That’s all doesn’t take more than 3 minutes.
- No need to re-install the operating system neither restore your favorite games, because an external hard drive just works as an additional storage that doesn’t replace the primary storage device where the operating system is installed.
- Tests showed that games on a modern external hard drive run faster by almost 10% than on the stock hard drive of PS4.
- The ability to use an external hard drive to transfer games between multiple PS4s. This is indeed a very handy feature that impresses lots of users. You need to connect to the internet and login to the PSN account that owns the games in order to make use of this feature.
The listed-below points about handling and maintaining external hard drives are, indeed, minor, but they are still worth to mention. So, the drawbacks of this method are:
- Neither the PS4 system software can be installed on an external storage device nor the game saves can be stored on it. This adds the speed of the internal hard drive as a major factor in determining the external HDD performance on PS4 systems.
- The speed this method offers doesn’t match that offered by an internal hard drive upgrade.
- Extra wire connected to your PS4 and more room is occupied. Although this seems a minor drawback, it doesn’t impress a variety of users.
- The external hard drives used in this method is totally possessed by PS4 system, because it will be formatted and encrypted in a way that doesn’t allow it to be used on other different systems like MAC or Windows.
- Due to their portable nature, external hard drives are less reliable than internal hard drives in terms of data safety. They are more likely to incur shock/vibration that will impact their functionality, and more to get lost or stolen.
External HDD Recommendations
Since we are talking about using an external HDD only, we don’t see that going for a high-end drive makes any big sense, since the external HDD speed is hindered by the speed of the stock hard drive of PS4. But if you want to upgrade the internal hard drive also, go to method #4.
The external HDD below are very good for their purpose, and we haven’t recommended more than 2tb drives since the user who’s going through this method is just average/entry-level without too much storage need.
Method #4: Using SSD with external HDD
In terms of performance, capacity and price all together, this method is ultimately the best. And if you’re an enthusiast, you’ll surely have to consider it before any other method.
The concept of this method is that you upgrade the internal stock hard drive with a small size SSD (Not less than 160gb of capacity, as PS4 system doesn’t accept smaller sizes as a system storage device), which will optimize the performance of PS4 operating system and its core applications, while having still more space for installing one or two high-end games. Then connect a very fast external hard drive (Seagate Backup Plus Fast 4TB) to your PS4 as an extended storage. That way you can get an SSD-like performance and more than 4tb of storage for the price of around $260 (which is almost the same price as that of 1tb SSD).
The Seagate Backup Plus Fast 4TB offers up to 220MB/s of data transfer speed that is more than enough for a game to perform at its best. That’s because neither PS4 games are coded to deal with too high transfer speed, nor the PS4 CPU is designed to process data on that rate. That explains why SSDs don’t unleash their full power in game consoles like PS4 and xbox. This situation goes for PS4 PRO as well, but with more performance gains in its favor.
Advantages & Drawbacks
This solution combines in one place the advantages and drawbacks of both 2nd and 3rd method, so there’s no need to repeat them again, except what this method stands out with.
As for the special advantage, it’s a more practical and budget-wise solution to optimize PS4 performance and gain huge storage capacity for an adequate price.
As for the special drawback, we can’t find any, except that you’re tied to only 4tb of external storage capacity which might be too large or small for the needs of some users. The lower and larger capacities don’t offer the same speed, unless you decide to go for a desktop/stationary external hard drive, which will take a real big room on your game console’s desk and required a separate electric connectivity.
240gb SSD Recommendations
We’ll recommend below three quality entry-level 240gb SSDs, that come in a price range under $90 and which you can use in a combination with Seagate Backup Plus Fast 4TB to implement this method.
Method #5: Using SSHD with external HDD
We have stated earlier in method #1 that an SSHD is the best upgrade for PS4 consoles when it comes to performance, capacity and price as a combination and that it features the best compromise between these three aspects.
If you have opted for an SSHD upgrade for your PS4, you most probably don’t need an external hard drive for performance improvement purpose, but rather for expanding the storage capacity of your console.
The SSHD upgrade offers you up to 2tb of storage capacity, and if you need more, just add the missing capacity externally using an external hard drive.
Advantages & Drawbacks
The advantage of this method is obvious—You’ll gain the power of SSHD where you have up to 2tb of storage space in which you store your favorite games, and, simultaneously, acquire an additional storage extension on a good performing external hard drive for the games that you don’t frequently demand.
As for the drawbacks, there’s none we can think about except the little slowness an external hard drive might show while running some games directly from it.
Recommendations for this method
We won’t recommend here more than 2tb of external hard drives as we see that 4tb is pretty enough for the overwhelming majority of enthusiasts. Click here to jump to our recommendations in method #3.
The methods for upgrading your PS4 hard drive vary depending on factors concerning your budget and the purpose you need the upgrade for. Therefore, there’s no one method that suits absolutely every single user. Just carefully read the details on each method before you make your mind.