What’s PS4 USB Storage Device & How to Use It?

The use of the USB storage devices on PS4 has not been as common as nowadays. In fact, the USB storage device is the most popular option to expand the PS4 storage capacity. That’s because users don’t have to go through the hassles of the PS4 internal HDD upgrade process. This saves them lots of time and efforts, although they will miss the significant performance improvement the PS4 internal HDD upgrade offers. But, nevertheless, the use of the PS4 USB storage device is still prevalent over other PS4 storage expansion options.

PS4 USB Storage Device

There are many issues related to the PS4 USB storage device that every PS4 user must know. For that reason we’ve combined this comprehensive guide to help addressing these issues.

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 Is PS4 USB Storage Device?

The PS4 USB storage device is a peripheral device that holds user’s data and files apart from the local HDD. It connects externally through the PS4 USB ports and works either as an extended storage or a backup medium. You can’t use the same PS4 USB storage device for both purposes at the same time.

The first support for the PS4 USB storage device appeared in 2015 with the PS4 system software v. 2.5. Before that date it was not possible by any means to use a USB storage device with the PS4.

Worth it to say that any USB storage device works well with PS4 as a backup medium. There’s no condition/restraint on that.

Later, in 2017, Sony announced the support for the extended storage with version 4.5 of the PS4 system software.

Unlike the backup medium, there are several conditions that the USB storage device must meet before using it as an extended storage. You’ll learn more about that later in this article.

PS4 Compatibility Guide

An external hard drive isn’t deemed compatible with PS4 unless it conforms to the PS4 external hard drive compatibility standards. These standards differ depending on the purpose you want the external hard drive for. Thus, determine your purposes first before picking your PS4 external hard drive.

Quick LinkPS4 System Software Update (Latest Version)

PS4 Backup Storage Standards

In order for PS4 system to accept an external hard drive as a backup storage solution, it must meet the following standards. They are:

  • Configured with USB interface, no matter what generation it is. So, whether you have a USB 1.x or USB 3.x external hard drive, it all will work properly as a PS4 backup solution.
  • Maximum storage capacity is 8tb without any minimum limit.
  • Single-layer drive. If you connect a dual-layer external HDD to PS4, the PS4 system will only recognize the first layer and ignores the second. Consequently this means you’ll lose half the storage capacity.
  • Not a NAS drive. Network Attached Storage (NAS) external hard drives are NOT supported by PS4. So just pick a regular USB 3.0 drive instead.
  • Wired Connection as PS4 system can’t recognize wireless external hard drives.
  • Non-partitioned drive. Ps4 system can’t handle partitions. So, make sure your drive has only one volume with the full capacity.
  • Formatted with either FAT32 or exFAT file system. Users had to do that on a computer in the past, but now the recent updates of PS4 system software have this function as a built-in feature. So, make sure to install the latest PS4 system software on your console.
  • PS4 System Software 2.5 or higher. Otherwise your external hard drive won’t be recognized.

PS4 Extended Storage Standards

The external hard drive you want to use as an extended storage on PS4 must conform to the following standards:

  • Configured with USB 3.0 or Higher. Unlike the backup storage standard, PS4 system won’t approve any external HDD as an extended storage unless it supports USB 3.0 connectivity.
  • Capacity Ranges from Minimum 250gb to Maximum 8tb. Note that there’s a limit on the minimum storage capacity, unlike the backup storage standard.
  • No Hub Connection. Whether the USB hub is built in your external HDD or you just use an additional hub to connect to PS4, both won’t work. (Note that recently some users had good experience with hub external hard drives on PS4 with the latest system software updates. I haven’t personally tested that and once I confirm it I’ll update this content.)
  • Not a NAS drive. Network Attached Storage (NAS) external hard drives are NOT supported by PS4. So just pick a regular USB drive instead.
  • Wired Connection. PS4 system doesn’t approve wireless external hard drives.
  • Single-Layer drives. If a dual layer external hard drive connects to PS4, only the first layer will be recognized and the other PS4 system will ignore.
  • Full Dedication. Note that PS4 system will totally format and encrypt your external hard drive with special file system that only works on PS4. So, unlike the backup storage solution, you cannot use this drive on a PC or MAC.

Once you find the drive that meets with all these standards, be sure it’s fully compatible for use on PS4.

Types of PS4 USB Storage Device

There are two types of USB storage devices that work for PS4—External hard drive and USB flash memory.

External hard drive

An external drive is just a hard drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD) that is connected to the PS4 on the outside rather than on the inside.

Some external drives draw power over their data cable, which of course comes from the PS4 itself, while others may require an AC wall connection to derive power on their own.

One way to think of an external hard drive is as if it were a regular, internal hard drive that has been removed, covered in its own protective casing, and plugged into the outside of your PS4 console.

Internal hard drives can even be converted into external hard drives via what’s called a hard drive enclosure.

External hard drives come in varying storage capacities, but they all connect to the PS4 by USB connection.

External hard disks are sometimes referred to as portable hard drives or mobile hard drives. The vast majority of mobile hard drives in the market are based on standard hard drives, and there is a small number of micro-hard drives (1.8-inch hard drives, etc.), but price factors determine that the mainstream mobile hard drives are based on standard hard drives.

Benefits of Using External HDD on PS4

External hard drives offer a wealth of conveniences. They’re easy to install—simply plug them in with your USB cable, format it as an extended storage, and you’re ready to save games/apps directly to the new external drive. It works almost identically to a USB flash drive.

External hard drives are also convenient for transferring files from one PS4 console to another. Need to get all your movie files onto your Playstation 4? Want to play your favorite games on your friend’s console without having to download and install the game? An external hard drive allows you to accomplish this with ease.

Finally, they’re a great back up to the internal drive. You can have all your files stored on a second device in case your PS4 ever gets wrecked/broken. If you backup your files to a separate device, you can rest easy knowing that you have two copies of everything. Never forget to back up your files!

Additional benefits

Some other great benefits of external hard drives include:

  • Huge storage capacity – You can easily store great amounts of files, images, videos, and more with an external hard drive. Plus, you can increase the amount of data depending on the make and manufacturer of the drive you choose.
  • Portability – You can take them with you anywhere. They are a great choice if you travel a lot, or if you need to exchange files between multiple locations.
  • Lightweight – In addition to being portable, external hard drives are also very lightweight. They can typically fit in your pocket, bag, or briefcase with ease. Plus, they require no special formatting required to be able to use them on another PS4.
  • Increased security – Since your data is always right in your hands, you know that it will always be secure. You can get rid of the risk of your data being stolen by carrying it with you, rather than leaving it vulnerable on a single game console.

PS4 External HDD vs Internal

The main difference between the PS4 internal hard drive and the PS4 external hard drive is location. While internal hard drives are built-in to your PS4, external drives are not.

All game consoles, including the PS4, need an internal drive to operate. Within the drive, files, data and media are stored. While you can physically remove the PS4’s internal drive, there is really no point to unless you wanted to replace it with a more powerful drive.

External drives are portable and — with the right cables — can be connected to all PS4 models, allowing you to take your files, data or media with you at all times.

You can read more on the comparison between the PS4 internal and external HDD to better educate yourself.

USB Flash Drive

A flash drive is a small, ultra-portable storage device which, unlike an optical drive or a traditional hard drive, has no moving parts.

Flash drives connect to the PS4 via a built-in USB Type-A plug, making a flash drive a kind of combination USB device and cable.

Flash drives are often referred to as pen drives, thumb drives, or jump drives. The terms USB drive and solid state drive (SSD) are also sometimes used but most of the time those refer to larger and not-so-mobile USB-based storage devices.

Benefits of using USB Flash Drives

There are several benefits of using a USB flash drive on PS4 when comparing it with external HDD. The major benefits are:

    >Reliability. The USB Flash Drives are more durable and reliable than external HDD because they do not have moving parts. They will serve you longer compared to the hard drives.
  • Portability. Flash drives are much smaller than external hard drives. They are very lightweight that makes them extremely portable. You can attach them to a keychain or slip them in your shirt or trouser pocket. Majority of these devices are between two and three inches.
  • Transfer speed. The 3.0 version of USB drives can offer to transfer data at a speed of 4.8 gigabytes per second. This is great speed compared to that of external hard drive, although external SSDs can be faster.
  • Compatibility. All USB flash memory sticks are compatible with PS4 for the backup purpose. But if you want to use it as an extended storage, there’re additional conditions the drive must meet.

How to Use a USB Storage Device on PS4

You want to either use the PS4 USB storage device as a backup medium or an extended storage. Each purpose has its own set-up process, and here we’ll cover both of them.

Using PS4 USB Storage Device for Backup

The backup storage refers to a storage device, medium or facility that users use for storing copies and instances of backup data. Backup storage enables the maintenance, management, retrieval and restoration of backup data for PS4 system.

Before you can use USB storage device as a backup storage with your PS4, you have to format it to the exFAT file system. Technically, the PS4 will also support USB storage device formatted as FAT32, but if you want to store files larger than 4GB you’ll want to make sure to use exFAT.

You will not be able to use a USB storage device that has been formatted to NTFS until it is first formatted to exFAT. While you can format the USB storage device using your computer, it’s easier to use the PS4. Note that formatting the USB storage device will remove any data you already saved to the drive, so make sure to back up everything important!

format the PS4 usb storage device as exFat

To format your PS4 USB storage device to the exFAT file system using your PS4 system, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the external hard disk drive into one of the PS4’s available USB 3.0 ports
  2. Navigate to the [Settings] menu on your PS4
  3. Select [Devices] then [USB Storage Devices]
  4. Choose the USB storage device from the list and press X
  5. On the next screen, select [Format as exFat] then select [Next]
  6. Select [Format] then [Yes] and finally [Okay]

The PS4 System will format the USB storage device to the relevant file system and that’s it. The formatting process generally doesn’t take very long, so you can use the USB storage device in just a few minutes. The new drive will show up when you navigate to the [Storage] menu in [Settings], and you can use it to back up your data—Apps and games and their saves.

For more information, please read this article.

Using PS4 USB Storage Device as Extended Storage

If your PS4™ system storage doesn’t have enough space to install a game, you can use a USB storage device to add more game storage. You can download games and add-ons from PlayStation®Store directly to your USB storage device or move games from your PS4™ to the USB storage device. Storing game content on an external drive lets you take your games with you.

Formatting the USB Storage Device

The first time you use a USB storage device, you’ll need to format it. Select a device to format in (Settings) > [Devices] > [USB Storage Devices], and then select [Format as Extended Storage]. When formatting is complete, the device is automatically set up as an install location for your applications.

Format USB storage device as an extended storage for PS4

Installing Games and Apps to the USB storage Device

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:

  1. Go to the Settings menu from your PS4 home screen.
  2. Scroll down to ‘Storage’.
  3. Choose which location you want to download to – either System Storage or your external HDD.
  4. Press the ‘Options’ button and select ‘Application install location’ to set the target download location – either ‘System Storage’ or ‘Extended Storage’.

Installing games and Apps on the PS4 USB storage device

Moving games and apps onto the PS4 USB Storage Device

Once you have all that extra storage, you’ll likely want to start moving some of your existing games and applications to the new USB storage device. It’s important to note that you cannot save application save data, PS4 themes, screenshots, or video clips to the PS4 extended storage. When you move a game or application, these files will remain on the PS4’s internal storage, though it will have no problems accessing them. Additionally, you cannot have a game or app installed on both the main system storage and the extended one simultaneously.

So, 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 USB storage device.

  1. Go to the Settings menu from your PS4 home screen.
  2. Scroll down to the ‘Storage’.
  3. Select ‘System Storage’, then ‘Applications’.
  4. Press the ‘Options’ button, then choose ‘Move to Extended Storage’.
  5. 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.
  6. Select ‘Move’ then hit ‘OK’ to begin the transfer.

moving games and apps to the PS4 USB storage device

PS4 USB Storage Device Isn’t Working

There are many reasons why the PS4 USB storage device stops working after a while, or not at all since the beginning. Usually the file conflicts occur within the PS4 system software are responsible for a big part of this problem. On the other hand, sometimes the USB storage device itself becomes defective and needs either maintenance or disposal. You can refer to this article for extensive knowledge on this matter.

Conclusion

There are different uses of the PS4 USB storage device. You can either use it for backup purposes or as an extended storage. Each purpose has its own pros and cons. You can read this quick comparison between both of them to enlighten yourself more on this subject.

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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