PS4 USB Storage Device – The Most Complete Guide

PS4 USB storage deviceIt has been too long until Sony eventually approved to support USB storage devices to be used within PS4 system. Since Sony released PlayStation-4 in Nov. 2013, most users complained of the lack of USB storage device support that would entitle them to externally store their games, applications and other files—either for a backup purpose, or just to expand the PS4 storage without having to replace the original stock hard drive that PS4 is utilizing as a primary storage device. Now, luckily, all these options are available for PS4 fanboys.

This guide has been compiled to help our readers acquire the essential knowledge on this topic by answering the frequently asked questions and addressing the most common issues with relevant solutions.

It’s worth to note that this guide is composed for educational purposes only. If you’re looking for the best USB storage devices for PS4, please pick your choice from the following list:

What You’ll Learn

This guide takes you through different aspects of PS4 USB storage device by addressing the following topics:

  • PS4 USB Storage Device Overview

    This section covers a brief history of PS4 support for USB storage devices and the specifications a USB storage device has to meet in order to be compatible with PS4 system.

  • Types of PS4 USB Storage Devices

    Where the different types of USB storage devices that work with PS4 are laid out and described in brief.

  • PS4 USB Ports

    Here we discuss several related issues including: how many ports PS4 has, the specifications of PS4 USB port, where it is located, is it possible to increase the number of PS4 USB ports, and more.

  • PS4 USB 3.0 Connection

    Which illustrates the powerful features of USB 3.0 and its specifications and how to make the best use of it on PS4.

  • PS4 USB Storage Format

    You’ll quickly learn how to format a USB storage device in order to prepare it for use on PS4.

  • PS4 USB System Update

    Instead of updating your PS4 operating system online, which requires from you to connect your console to the internet, you can update PS4 system via a USB storage device.

  • PS4 USB Hard Drive

    Here is offered a general knowledge on USB hard drives and their compatibility with PS4 system, including the top recommendations for PS4.

  • PS4 USB Stick

    USB sticks are so common among PS4 fanboys who don’t want the large size of USB hard drives. This section discusses the use of USB sticks on PS4 and why you might need one for your game console.

That’s it. If there’s an issue this guide doesn’t cover, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll try to sufficiently address it.

PS4 USB Storage Device Overview

When Sony first released PS4 with a USB connection, it didn’t bear in mind that time that users would want to use a USB storage device with PS4. That’s why Sony didn’t offer any support for external storage devices, taking into consideration that PS4 was made too easy to upgrade its internal hard drive to much larger capacities up to 8tb.

Moreover, Sony provided a cloud-storage solution to its users with a minimum 1GB standard of online storage space via PS Plus (In Sep 2015 it was expanded to 10GB with PS4 System Update 3.0 as stated on the official PlayStation Blog).

Moreover, by not providing support for USB storage devices, Sony can absolutely protect its games from piracy, which seemed like a major advantage for preventing any USB storage device from working with PS4.

Therefore, Sony didn’t expect any real benefit from allowing USB storage devices to connect to PS4, but that was totally wrong for several reasons:

  1. PS4 stock hard drive came with a limited storage capacity of 500gb offering nearly 408gb only of usable storage space that didn’t meet the expectations of a very wide variety of users, especially after the dramatic increase in the size of games. Even after PS4 started later, after a year and half, to ship with a 1gb hard drive, users didn’t stop their complaints of storage shortage.
  2. The hard drive used inside PS4 was a cheap and obsolete drive that users couldn’t fully trust to handle their data for so long. Therefore an external backup solution was inevitable in this situation for emergency.
  3. Many users didn’t feel familiar enough to replace the internal hard drive of PS4, as they wanted their favorite game console to remain intact and untouched, especially within the 1-year warranty period that would be voided if the stock hard drive was swapped. So, expanding PS4 Storage limit externally via a USB storage device was a very appealing solution.

For these reasons and more, heaps of complaints Sony received requesting to add support for USB storage devices, and that what happened eventually. Now, PS4 system allows the use of USB storage devices for either backup purpose or extending the primary storage space of PS4, on which you can install games and apps.

Compatibility Standards

Any USB storage device is not deemed compatible with PS4 unless it follows the following standards:

  1. It must support USB 3.0 connection. Earlier versions of USB are NOT supported by PS4 system and they’ll not be recognized.
  2. Its size must be between 250gb minimum and 8tb maximum. This condition applies to USB storage devices used for extended storage purpose only.
  3. It must be formatted with FAT file system (either FAT32 or exFAT). This condition applies to USB storage devices used for backup or media library purposes only. If you want your USB storage device as an extended storage, PS4 system will format it for you.
  4. It must directly connect to PS4 via its USB port, not via a USB hub or any other medium. This condition applies to USB storage devices used for extended storage purpose only.

There is no other standard that a USB storage device must conform to in order to suit PS4 system.

Types of PS4 USB Storage Devices

There are a variety of types of USB storage devices available that PS4 system accepts. One kind of such device is known as an external hard drive. These drives are large capacity drives, often as big (even larger) than the drives found inside PS4 body. If they are portable drives, they are electrically powered by the same USB cable connecting to PS4. Otherwise, they are powered by external power supply.

Another type of PS4 USB storage drive is a USB Flash Drive. These small devices can fit in one’s pocket and are about the size of a human thumb. They also go by the names thumb drives, flash drives and keychain drives. These drives are low-powered devices, and are powered by the USB connection. On PS4, they are usually used to store game saves and the PS4 System Software file for an offline system update for PS4.

PS4 USB Ports

PS4 comes with two USB ports. These ports both follow USB 3.0 specifications and are used in several ways. These ports are used to connect wireless/USB headsets, wireless/USB controllers, PS VR, USB storage devices (i.e. USB hard drives and USB flash drives), USB controller charging cable, and more.

If you’re looking to expand the number of USB ports on your PS4, you can easily use a PS4 USB hub, but with caution that a USB storage device set as an extended storage for PS4 won’t work via a USB hub as stated earlier.

Location of USB Ports in PS4

In PS4 and PS4 Slim, there are only two USB ports located in the front size of the outer body, as can see in the image below:

PS4 usb ports location

As for PS4 Pro, there is an addition port (beside the two ports in the front side) located in the rear side of the outer body, as can see in the image below:

PS4 Pro rear USB port

This additional USB port in PS4 Pro can be very helpful if you want to permanently use it for an external storage device, and keep the front ports for other purposes.

PS4 USB 3.0 Connection

PS4 authorized the third generation of USB in its architecture. USB 3.0 is the third major version of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard for interfacing computers and electronic devices. Among other improvements, USB 3.0 adds the new transfer rate referred to as SuperSpeed USB (SS) that can transfer data at up to 5 Gbit/s (625 MB/s), which is about ten times as fast as the USB 2.0 standard. Manufacturers are recommended to distinguish USB 3.0 connectors from their USB 2.0 counterparts by blue color-coding of the Standard-A receptacles and plugs, and by the initials SS.

USB 3.1, released in July 2013, is the successor standard that replaces the USB 3.0 standard. USB 3.0 has been renamed USB 3.1 Gen 1 by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), while defining a new transfer rate called SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps, also called USB 3.1 Gen 2. However, there are no changes to the technical specifications. USB 3.1 Gen 1 (USB 3.0) offers the same ease of use and plug-and-play capabilities as previous generations of USB technologies, but with a 10X performance increase and better power management. For users of USB 3.1 (SuperSpeed USB), the goal of connecting devices to PS4 is the same as the USB 2.0 specification (Hi-Speed USB).

USB 3.0 names

Almost only USB storage devices and PS4 camera will take the full advantages of the powerful features of PS4 USB 3.0, because other devices don’t need high data transfer rate to function, and USB 2.0 is sufficient for them in general.

PS4 USB Storage Format

Formatting a USB storage device for PS4 basically depends on the purpose you want that USB storage device to be used for.

If you want it used as a backup storage, or a movie streamer, then you have to format it first on a PC or MAC using FAT file system before connecting it to PS4. Otherwise, PS4 system won’t recognize it. You can read more on that in this article.

Otherwise, if your goal is to use the USB storage device as an extended storage, in which you can install your games and apps, then you don’t have to format it the way you have to in the previous method, because PS4 System offers to do this for you. Please read this article for more details.

PS4 USB System Update

USB storage devices, especially a USB stick, are widely used to update the PS4 system offline, without the need for PS4 to connect to the internet for this purpose to be fulfilled.

You have two options here for updating PS4 system via USB connection:

  1. Download the full PS4 System Software Package if you want to install PS4 operating system from scratch. This is usually done after a PS4 hard drive replacement/upgrade.
  2. Download the update patch only. This option is for those who just need to update their PS4 operating system the normal way.

In all cases, whether you’re looking for the full pack or just the update batch of PS4 system software, you can visit the PS4 System Software official webpage and download it from them from your computer and store it in a USB storage device in order to apply it to your PS4 hard drive.

To directly download the full pack PS4 System Software, click here.

To directly download the update only pack, click here.

After you download the file of your choice, connect the USB storage device to PS4, restart it, and follow the update instructions that appear on the screen.

You can watch the following video to learn more on this operation:

PS4 USB Hard Drive

PS4 usb hard drivePS4 users tend to get a USB hard drive for their PS4 console for two main reasons:

  1. Use it as a backup storage in case of emergency. For this situation, PS4 offers a feature called: “Backup & Restore” that helps you manage your backup storage properly and take a precautionary copy of all your games, apps, and game saves. This option is recommended for every user, as no one knows when PS4 hard drive will suddenly fail, just like any electronic devices in the world.
  2. Use it as an extended storage that expand the primary storage of PS4. Wee prefer an internal hard drive upgrade due to the performance boost it offers alongside the storage expansion, but every user has their own needs and reasons for their choice. This option allows you to install your games and applications externally and launch them from there. It’s the best option for those who want a very easy and quick storage expansion without going through the hassle of PS4 internal hard drive upgrade.

In general, you’ll find yourself eventually needing a USB hard drive for both purposes. The backup drive is essential in the digital world, no matter how strong and reliable the storage device that holds your data is, as failure is a certainty like death, and it doesn’t have a particular time to come.

In the other hand, expanding PS4 system storage in just a few minutes by plugging a USB external hard drive to it seems too appealing.

So will you get two USB hard drives for each purpose? Well, we suggest to upgrade the internal hard drive with a 2tb storage drive, and use a USB storage device as a backup solution. This is the best thing we can suggest.

Recommended USB Hard Drives

There are many USB hard drives that are fully compatible and work properly with PS4, but the main thing you have to prioritize is both, performance and capacity.

As for the performance of a USB hard drive, it’s sufficient to read a few reviews on a particular drive written by IT experts to make sure the USB drive you have picked for your PS4 operates to high standards.

As for capacity, it solely depends on your needs and the way you want to use the USB hard drive on PS4. If you want to store tons of AAA-grade titles with several UHD movies, or you have a shared console and want to expand its storage with this USB hard drive, then the capacity you look for can exceed 2tb. Otherwise, a 1tb or 2tb of USB hard drive storage capacity is sufficient for the overwhelming majority of PS4 users.

PS4 USB Stick

The use for USB flash drives or USB sticks on PS4 is mainly for the quick storage tasks that don’t handle huge amount of data. USB sticks are usually bought for storing game saves or perform an offline PS4 system update. Otherwise, USB hard drives are used for the big storage purposes.

You have to bear in mind that a USB stick has to be formatted in FAT file system in order to be recognized and accepted by PS4 system. Do that on your computer and format it either with FAT32 or exFAT file system.

Recommended USB Sticks

The market is abound with USB stick brands, and most of them perform well enough for the purpose they are designed for. But when you pick a USB stick for PS4, with the consideration that you’re using it for lightweight storage tasks, then high performance is not an issue at all, and you should not prioritize it, as any mainstream USB stick can do that kind of work you assign to it perfectly, as long as there’s no huge pressure on the USB stick, and speed is a minority to you.

Conclusion

Finally Sony has widely supported USB storage devices. You can now have your own backup plan, or just look forward for expanding the PS4 system storage without having to replace the internal stock hard drive and go through all the hassles it makes (although the replacement process is so easy, but the time it takes and the casual errors that may occur dissuade many novices or non-savvies from considering it as a first option to expand their PS4 storage).

18 Responses

  1. Chris Lee says:

    I will be upgrading my internal hard drive here soon what is he best internal hard drive to get other than a PlayStation one for the part of better performance and reliability

  2. Dylan B Taylor says:

    Wd my passport 4tb usb hdd is not showing up in usb storage device list on ps4. It’s simply saying no usb storage device connected. But it is connected and the sun storage device is working and vibrating. Why won’t the ps4 recognize? The hdd was unplugged but after the ps4 was off and it was left unplugged more than a day then this is happening after I plugged the system and usb storage back in. It didn’t even come up with the sun storage repair thing. It’s simply not even recognizing it is plugged in.

  3. Guttermedic says:

    Sorry but I have to disagree with your USB Hub statements that their not compatible. I have been using a 7 port USB hub sense the PS4 was released. It is a cheap USB 1.1 that has on / off switches for each port. You can find them online for under $10. I was going to upgrade to a USB 3.0 hub but if it ain’t broke don’t change it. I am glad the Sony finally got their heads out and upped the support to 8TB. I have a WD 1TB and a Seagate 4TB along with 4 USB flash drives 64GB and above. The only crappy part is Knowing which USB **DISK** drive I want to use, because you can only boot one at a time. The flash drives stay on all the time, but only one disk drive has to be on when you boot the PS4. Its not to hard thought. If I want to backup the system drive. I have to shutdown the system, switch the SeaGate off and turn the WD drive USB switch to on, then boot the PS4. After backup maintenance is complete. I shut off the PS4 and switch back to the SeaGate drive and reboot.

    PS I should point out the WD drive on boot up does come up as an unusable USB device. I click OK and it works like it should. I have been using it to backup my PS4 from the beginning. Well sense the 1TB support.

    System INFO
    PS4 and software is up to date (no modding)
    2 x system HDD one 500GB and the other 4TB with a Nyko Data Bank Plus 3.5″ SATA HDD Enclosure that mounts to the PS4 HDD spot. It has a switch to pick which system disk I want to boot. ie the 500GB only web interface and streaming, 4TB for gaming only.
    PSVR
    7 port USB hub (non powered)
    1 x WD 1 TB USB external disk drive (system backup only no games)
    1 x Seagate 4TB USB external disk drive (media server / file storage ie music, video, VR downloads….)
    2 x 64GB flash drives
    2 x 128GB flash drives
    1 usb dongle for headset
    I do not have a PS4 USB front hub.

    • PS4 Storage says:

      Thank you very much for narrating to use your experiment. It’s really wonderful and very interesting. Never imagined it would work that way. So you mean in brief, if the hub is USB 1.1 and you connect a USB 3.0 device to it, then PS4 would recognize it and the device would work the way you described?

      If what I have understood is right, that means it only works with older generations of USB hubs. But surely hubs that support USB 3.0 won’t work here.

      And by the way, the information about using USB hub is confirmed by Sony itself. But certainly what you said is totally new to them.

      This “trick” might help some people. So I am very glad to have it added to this article. Thanks again.

  4. Saad says:

    Today I was going to copy my saved data onto a USB since I am upgrading my hdd, so I bought the 16gb variant of the following Samsung USB flash drive https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/memory-storage/usb-flash-drives/usb-3-1-flash-drive-bar-plus-32gb-champagne-silver-muf-32be3-am/

    Now, I double checked that the file system was FAT32 and when I plugged in the USB into my PS4, it gave me the error “The USB storage device is locked”. I cannot count how many times I have formatted both quick AND long type, switching the system from exFAT to FAT32, yet I keep getting that locked error. None of the solutions currently present on the internet have helped me. Do you have an idea on how I can go about and fix this?

    • PS4 Storage says:

      Hi Saad,

      Your USB flash drive is write-protected, most probably due to a defective controller chip. But before coming to that conclusion, I request that you check your USB flash drive on a PC and try to copy and save files to it. Does it work fine or the same error appears?

      Moreover, have you updated your PS4 system software to the latest version? Sometimes this might help.

      So, check it first on a PC and come back to tell me whether it works or not.

  5. Saad says:

    Thank you for getting back to me on such a short notice. Yes, I did copy and save files onto the USB flash drive. I even plugged the USB into the PS4 after filling like half of the space with movies, and I was able to play the movies using the PS4 media player, yet the “storage device is locked” error kept coming up each time I tried to copy saved application data.

    And yes my PS4 is updated to the latest version.

    • PS4 Storage says:

      You’re most welcome.

      Ok, I think I know the real cause of this problem. It’s either a software installed on your PC on which you format the USB flash drive, or it’s the OS itself that was tweaked for extra security.

      You may not be aware though that PS4 has already a format feature for backup storage that comes with the latest software updates.

      Just click the “format as exFat” and this will hopefully resolve the problem.

      Additionally, you can boot up your PC in Safe Mode then try to format the flash drive.

      Please get back to us if the problem still persist.

  6. Saad says:

    Well, mate thank you for your suggestions and responses. I tried everything and it wouldn’t work, including trying to format the flash drive via the PS4, but it would give an error when I would select the format option. Anyway, I got hold of another flash drive from a friend to get my saved data and I just finished fitting in the new HDD using your youtube tutorial so thanks for that as well. Funny thing though, I used my own flash drive to install the firmware and even copy back the saved data onto the system using that. So, the problem was only that it wouldn’t let me copy anything from the PS4 itself to the flash drive.

    Cheers!

    • PS4 Storage says:

      That’s one of the strangest cases I have ever heard about. Thanks for sharing your experience anyway, and you’re always welcome to our website. 🙂

  7. Amy says:

    Regarding USB requirements – “Its size must be between 250gb minimum and 8tb maximum” – Does this mean I need to get my hands on a >250Gb USB stick just to transfer my game data? I only need a gig of data transferred!

    • PS4 Storage says:

      This is in case you want to use it as an extended storage solution. If you want to use it for backup purpose (like your case), any size will work, don’t worry. Read more here.

  8. Chase says:

    I just bought the sea gate 2 tb and it supports game data and game downloads but I bought it because I have 700 gb worth of videos of Fortnite under my capture gallery which each video is about 12-15 gb each… when I go to copy to usb it says unsupported… I see you guys said something about formatting it… if I do that would I be able to copy my videos over to the hat drive so I can put them on my pc to edit?

    • PS4 Storage says:

      Yes, sure. You have first to format it as a backup storage not as extended storage in order to be able to use it for that purpose.

  9. Rion says:

    I’m upgrading from 2tb external storage to 4tb. Can I just copy my data from the old device straight to the new one and have it work?

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