PS5 Guide – How to use external drives with PlayStation 5

The PlayStation 5 is a fantastic machine, partly thanks to its ultra-speedy built in SSD, but there’s a problem: The SSD is only 825GB in size, it only gives you 667.2GB of space to install games to. You’ve got two options for expanding your console’s storage, but with Sony not enabling internal expansion until sometime after launch,  we’ll only be talking about external HDD drives for this guide.

Contents for this guide:

  • What can I use an external drive for on PS5?
  • What external HDDs are compatible with PS5?
  • Can I use my PS4’s external drive?
  • Can I install PS5 games to my external drive?
  • How to use an external drive with PS5
  • How to move games between Internal and External storage
  • How to safely remove external storage on PS5

What can I use an external drive for on PS5?

External drives can be used with PlayStation 5 to store and play PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR games via backward compatibility. PlayStation 5 games, on the other hand, have to be installed to internal storage to make use of the SSD’s speed.

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If you’ve got a huge back catalogue of PS4 and PSVR titles that you want to revisit, you’ll likely want to keep those games on an external drive, even if you lose out on having a boost to loading times from the PS5.

What external HDDs will work with PS5?

The requirements for an external drive on PS5 are exactly the same as on PS4. The drive must be at least 250GB in size, with a maximum size of 8TB, and the drives have to be USB 3.0 or newer.

These can be traditional kinetic HDDs or an external SSD, though these will still be restricted to only supporting PS4 and PSVR games.

Can I reuse my external drive from PS4?

Yes! In fact, this is probably the best and fastest way of transferring your PS4 game collection to the PS5. All you need to do is safely remove the drive from your PS4 via the console’s quick menu, and then plug it into your PS5. The new console will immediately recognise all the games that are installed and show them in your game library, ready for you to play.

You can also use the external drive between multiple consoles, taking your library of downloaded PS4 and PSVR games with you.

Can I install PS5 games to my external drive?

Sadly not. Sony have confirmed that PS5 games can only be installed to the internal SSD

How to use an external drive with PS5

Here’s the step by step of what you need to do and know to use an external drive with PS5:

  • Turn on the PS5.
  • Plug the USB external drive into the rear USB-A ports or front USB-C port – Note the front USB-A port is only for charging and non-gaming storage.
  • (Optional) If the drive has not been used with a PlayStation before, you’ll need to format it for game storage. From the main PS5 menu, head to Settings (the cog in the upper right corner) then Storage > Extended Storage and select the option to format the drive.
  • (Optional) Ensure that ‘Always Install PS4 Games to Extended Storage’ is selected to reserve PS5 internal storage for PS5 games.

How to move games between Internal and External storage

You can move games PS4 and PSVR games between internal and external storage by heading to Settings > Storage and then either Console Storage or Extended Storage depending on where the game is installed. Select Games and Apps and then Items You Can Move, which will show you a list of games that can be moved to the other storage.

Can I move PS5 games to my external drive?

Sadly not. Sony have confirmed that PS5 games can only be installed to the internal SSD and cannot be moved to an external drive. This means you cannot even archive and backup a PS5 game as a way to clear space on the internal SSD.

This is something that might change in future, Sony have said, but for now, external drives are only for PS4 games.

How to safely remove external storage on PS5

This used to be an easy to find option in the PS4 quick menu, but is hidden away on PS5. To safely remove storage on PS5, you need to go to Settings > Storage > Extended Storage and then select Safely Remove from PS5.


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1 Comment

  1. Can you use a USB (3.0) as external storage on PS3/PS5? 1TB sticks are pretty cheap at the moment.

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