PS4 USB Storage Device – The Most Complete Guide
It 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:
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Any USB storage device is not deemed compatible with PS4 unless it follows the following standards:
- It must support USB 3.0 connection. Earlier versions of USB are NOT supported by PS4 system and they’ll not be recognized.
- Its size must be between 250gb minimum and 8tb maximum. This condition applies to USB storage devices used for extended storage purpose only.
- 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.
- 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 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:
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:
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 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).
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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 users tend to get a USB hard drive for their PS4 console for two main reasons:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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).