You can’t backup PS5 games on an external HDD, but you can on Xbox Series X|S

We’ve known for a long time now that PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S games can only be played when they are installed to the SSD, leading to many being concerned about how many games they’d be able to install with the 825GB SSD in PS5 and the 512GB and 1TB SSDs in the two new Xbox boxes.

Many hoped that you could backup and store next-gen games on an external drive to save having to download things again. As the review embargoes have dropped over the last few days – we discuss this matter in both our PlayStation 5 review and Xbox Series X review – we can now share how these next-gen consoles allow you to manage game installs.

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PlayStation 5 does not let you move a PS5 game from the internal SSD to an external drive in any way, meaning you cannot back them up or archive PS5 games and can only delete them if you need to clear SSD space for something else. The only other option you have is to perform a full system backup.

In essence, the PS5 sees an external expansion drive purely as a device for storing backward compatible PS4 games to be stored on. In the settings, you can toggle to have PS4 games installed automatically to an external drive. You will, however, only see meaningfully improved load times if you install PS4 games to the internal SSD.

Meanwhile, on Xbox Series X|S, you can happily copy or move Series X|S optimised games to an external drive. When you select to do so a warned appears in the bottom left hand corner to inform you that the game will not run from an external drive, and it is then marked with a twin arrow symbol in your game library. If you try to open an X|S optimised game while it is installed on an external drive, a pop up will appear asking you to copy it back to the SSD in order to play.

All the next-gen consoles offer ways to expand the SSD storage, with a semi-custom expansion drive slot on the back the Xbox consoles that accommodates the pricey 1TB Seagate SSDs. These are a match for the speed of the internal drive and will be available next week alongside the new consoles. For PlayStation 5, Sony have adopted the industry standard M.2 NVME SSD format, but will pre-approve certain SSD models that they deem to be fast enough to match the internal SSD. While there are several candidates that are now available, Sony have yet to announce any drives as being compatible. Hopefully that happens soon…

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6 Comments

  1. That’s a shame, although I don’t think it will affect my play pattern

    I bought a 240GB USB 3.1 SSD yesterday, but this is for PS4 games

  2. It sounds like something that would be relatively easy to implement – just to be able to move data from one storage to another without the expectation that it can be played from the latter – so i wouldn’t be surprised to see it implemented within the launch window – along with folders!

  3. Mildly annoying, but something that could change before it really becomes a problem. Hopefully.

    More of a problem is that you apparently can’t back up your save games to a USB device. Obviously you can upload them, assuming you’ve got a PS+ subscription and haven’t managed to fill up the space you’re given. Which you might think is unlikely since they increased the storage to 100GB. Except they still have a limit of how many files you can upload, which is easy to reach.

  4. I have seen a Dev a small Dev like an indie i believe say in the comments on another site that the feature was there on his Dev Kit but has been removed and he has checked with various others who confirmed this,guess it could be patched back in at official launch or soon after who knows.

  5. did cerny not confirm this would be possible. I could have sworn that it was a feature…. maybe i’m just getting the xbox and PS5 mixed up. I can’t imagine it will be too long before they patch that in.

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