- Best External Hard Drive for PS4 2021
- Choosing the Best External Hard Drive for PS4
- How to Use an External Hard Drive with PS4
- 1. Best External Hard Drive for PS4: Samsung T5
- 2. Western Digital My Book
- 3. Seagate Backup Plus Portable
- 4. Seagate Official PS4 Game Drive
- 5. Toshiba Canvio Basics
- Final Thoughts
The PS4 caused quite a stir when it was released, thanks to its hot, swappable storage design. Sony designed the console so the hard drive is accessible from a dedicated slot, away from other components. To change it, all you need to do is purchase a 2.5-inch hard drive, take out the old one and plug in your new one.
There are a few issues with changing your drive, though. First, you’ll lose all of your local files, including saves, unless they’re backed up to cloud storage (see our cloud services comparison chart). Second, you’ll have to download and manually install the PS4 system software so you can actually use the console. That’s not to mention having to take apart your PS4 in the first place.
Thankfully, by using in external hard drive, you can expand your PS4’s storage without taking apart the system or losing any files. In this guide to the best external hard drive for PS4, we pulled our top five picks from our best external hard drive guide so you know which ones to use with your console.
Before we get into the list, let’s first talk about how we made our picks, as well as what you need to do to set up an external hard drive on your console.
Best External Hard Drive for PS4 2021
- : 1 TB SSD, 2 TB SSD
- : SSD
- : 3 TB, 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 10 TB
- : Spinning
- : 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB
- : Spinning
- : 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB
- : Spinning
- : 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB
- : No
- : Spinning
Choosing the Best External Hard Drive for PS4
- Samsung T5 — Compact and well-designed, it’s also the fastest SSD here
- Western Digital My Book — A good choice for those who care for capacity rather than speed
- Seagate Backup Plus Portable — Another good pick for capacity and portability at a decent price point
- Seagate Official PS4 Game Drive — The officially branded PS4 external HDD, at a premium, of course
- Toshiba Canvio Basics — Cheap and decent performance for any PS4
Much like our best external hard drive for Xbox One guide, this one is all about capacity. The purpose of using an external hard drive with your console is to install more games and apps, so aspects such as speed and form factor aren’t as critical. That said, raw capacity for the PS4 isn’t as important as it is with the Xbox One.
Although the PS4 Pro delivers better performance than the standard PS4 and Xbox One, it isn’t as much of a powerhouse as the Xbox One X. Because of that, the PS4 Pro doesn’t run into the massive game sizes that are attributed to Xbox One X enhanced games. With that in mind, we focused more on speed when making our picks.
That proved to be more of an issue than it would seem, though. The PS4 and PS4 Pro have USB 3.0 ports, meaning any USB 3.1 drive, such as the SanDisk Extreme Portable, won’t reach its full potential (read our SanDisk Extreme Portable review). As we saw in our ADATA SD600 review, using a SSD over USB 3.0 produces less-than-desirable results.
We have one exception to the “only USB 3.0 drives” rule, which is, in fact, our top pick. That’s because, unlike the Xbox One, PS4 games aren’t too large, which puts the focus on loading times.
Although you won’t be able to get the full performance of a USB 3.1-based SSD, you’ll still experience a significant performance benefit over a traditional spinning drive.
Other factors, such as form factor, weren’t as important. As we noted in our Xbox One guide, it’s likely your drive will have a permanent home with your console, so desktop-based solutions, such as the Western Digital My Book, are solid choices. Even so, we have a few portable options for those who want to take their games on the go.
There were some technical considerations when making our picks, too. As per Sony’s specs, the PS4 and PS4 Pro only support external hard drives that use USB 3.0 or later and hold between 250GB and 8TB in capacity.
How to Use an External Hard Drive with PS4
The PS4 and PS4 Pro can easily have an internal hard drive installed. However, doing so is much more complex than using an external one and runs the risk of ruining your console. Before you can use an external hard drive with your PS4, though, you’ll need to format it, which can be done on the console itself.
As you can read in our how to format an external hard drive guide, different platforms require different file systems, which is what the operating system uses to organize data. Unsurprisingly, the PS4 has its own file system, so you’ll need to format the external drive to it. Note, however, that formatting the drive will erase all of the data currently on it.
Once you get your drive, grab it and the included USB 3.0 cable, head to your PS4 and follow these steps:
- Connect the drive to an open USB port in the console’s front or back
- Ignore the error message about the drive being improperly formatted
- Go to the “settings” menu and scroll down to “devices”
- Select “USB storage device”
- Find your external hard drive and select “format as extended storage”
After that, you can install games on the drive. It’s important to note that the PS4 doesn’t prompt you to format the drive like the Xbox One does, so you will get an error message no matter what. Once you’ve formatted the drive, it will be the default location for storing games. You can change that, though, by following these steps:
- Go to the “settings” menu and select “storage”
- Choose your download location and press the “options” button on your controller
- Select “application install location” and choose either the internal storage or your external hard drive
Finally, you can move games and applications around in the same storage menu. All you need to do is:
- Select the drive where the game is located
- Find the game you want to move, then press the “options” button
- Select “move to extended storage”
1. Best External Hard Drive for PS4: Samsung T5
The Samsung T5 is overkill for the PS4, considering its top speed is best delivered over USB 3.1. However, if you’re looking for the best of the best, the T5 can deliver. In addition to being one of the smallest external hard drives we’ve reviewed, it’s also one of the fastest. That said, it’s the most pricey drive on our list.
It’s expensive, at least when compared to spinning hard drives. Matched up against other external SSDs, though, the price isn’t too bad. For example, compared to the G-Drive Mobile SSD, you’ll be saving around $30 for the 2TB model (read our G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD review).
That said, you’re not getting a lot of capacity for your money. The T5 tops out at 2TB, which isn’t a lot, compared to external HDDs. When considered against other SSDs, though, it’s great; 2TB should be plenty of room to store your games, especially given the number of small, indie titles on the PlayStation Store.
Additionally, you’re trading capacity for speed. During our testing, the T5 scored north of 520 MB/s for sequential reads and writes. Random performance was excellent, too, with the T5 clocking in at 160.1 MB/s for random reads and 195.7 MB/s for random writes.
In practice, that means games will download as fast as your internet will allow, and you’ll have little to no wait time on loading screens.
Other Reasons We Like the Samsung T5
If you’re trying to keep your entertainment center clean, the Samsung T5 is the perfect external hard drive. Weighing in at only 51 grams and measuring smaller than a business card, the T5 can sit comfortably behind your console, out of sight. Since it’s a SSD, it doesn’t require any ventilation and doesn’t make any noise, either.
Although it’s a good match for your PS4, the Samsung T5 is also a great choice as an external hard drive, in general. Samsung includes AES-256 hardware encryption on the device, allowing you to lock all of your data behind a password. You can learn more about how hard AES-256 is to crack in our description of encryption.
From performance to features to build quality, the T5 is excellent. Although its higher-than-average price tag may turn away some users, the performance is one of the Samsung T5. You can learn more about it in our Samsung T5 review.
- Very fast
- Lightweight & compact
- Available up to 2TB
2. Western Digital My Book
If you’re less interested in speed and more concerned about capacity, the Western Digital My Book is the external hard drive for you. It doesn’t perform as well as the Samsung T5 — not even close — but the speed loss is made up for in capacity. The My Book offers nearly unlimited game storage for very little money.
For a point of reference, the 1TB T5 is $20 more expensive than the 8TB My Book. Granted, the T5 is a SSD while the My Book is a traditional spinning drive, but if all you’re concerned with is storage space, the My Book can deliver better than the T5 can.
Western Digital starts the range at 3TB, going all the way up to 10TB. There are dual-drive models, too, which go up to 20TB and ship with RAID-0 pre-configured (read our what is RAID guide). Seeing as the PS4 only officially supports drives up to 8TB, you can’t buy the 10TB version.
The dual drive versions may work, considering you’re only getting half the usable space thanks to RAID-0, but we haven’t tested it. Seeing that RAID configurations can be cumbersome even on desktops, we don’t have high hopes. Even so, 8TB should be plenty of room for years to come.
Other Reasons We Like the Western Digital My Book
Despite being a spinning disk, the Western Digital My Book performs well. In fact, it made it onto our fastest external hard drive list. We saw speeds above 200 MB/s for sequential reads and writes, with random write speeds near 12 MB/s. The random read performance was poor, however, with the My Book clocking in at only 0.59 MB/s.
Inside a My Book is a Western Digital Red hard drive, which is built for network attached storage. With that in mind, our speed results make sense. The faster write speed shows that the drive quickly backs up data, which, for the PS4, means it can download games without any hiccups. However, you’re trading off some speed when reading data from the disk.
Even so, the value of a Western Digital My Book is undeniable. It gives you the ability to max out the supported storage for your PS4 without spending much money. You can learn more about the drive in our Western Digital My Book review.
- Available up to 8TB
- Decent speed
- Requires external power
3. Seagate Backup Plus Portable
The Seagate Backup Plus Portable is the smaller, slimmer version of the Western Digital My Book. It’s still available in ultra-high capacities — up to 5TB — but it comes in a smaller enclosure and doesn’t require external power. It looks a lot better, too, with a woven fabric top that’s available in four colors.
Seagate’s lineup of drives is a bit confusing, though. For instance, there’s the Seagate Portable, which, while similar to the Backup Plus Portable, isn’t the same thing (read our Seagate Portable review). Furthermore, there are three versions of the Backup Plus Portable, each offering something unique.
There’s the standard version, which comes in 4TB and 5TB capacities, as well as the Slim version, which is slightly smaller and comes in 1TB and 2TB capacities. Seagate also sells an Ultra Touch version, which is available in 4TB and 5TB capacities, but at a higher price than the normal version. That’s because it comes with an included USB-C and hardware encryption.
For PS4, the Ultra Touch version isn’t really worth it, so we recommend skipping past. The other two options are great, though. Unlike the Western Digital My Book, the Backup Plus Portable is small enough to fit behind your console, out of sight. More impressive, though, is that it can do so while offering up to 5TB of storage.
Other Reasons We Like the Seagate Backup Plus Portable
When it comes to speed, the Seagate Backup Plus Portable is a more balanced drive than the Western Digital My Book. However, the lack of specialization means it’s slower overall. Sequential read and write speeds were around 130 MB/s, while random reads and writes were around 1.3 MB/s.
In practice, that means games should load slightly faster on the Seagate Backup Plus Portable over the My Book, but you may experience slower download times. As you’re downloading a game, the files will queue up to be written to the disk. If the disk take a while to write that data, your overall download time will be longer.
If you decide to use the drive outside of your PS4, you’ll be rewarded. Seagate offers Toolkit on Windows and macOS, which will allow you to mirror or backup your computer. You can learn more about Toolkit and everything else this drive has to offer in our Seagate Backup Plus Portable review.
- Available up to 5TB
- Attractive exterior
4. Seagate Official PS4 Game Drive
The Seagate Official PS4 Game Drive is basically the same thing as a Seagate Portable, but much more expensive. That said, it makes it very easy to get up and running with an external hard drive on your PS4. Furthermore, it’s officially branded with the PS4 logo, so if you’re after looks, the Game Drive can deliver.
As mentioned above, you have to go through a decently lengthy process to get an external hard drive working on your PS4. With the Game Drive, though, you don’t have to worry about that. The drive is ready to go out of the box, preformatted to work with your PS4.
Furthermore, the drive ships with the same firmware as your PS4’s internal storage. Although the internal storage of the PS4 isn’t great, it’s better than most external disks. Because the firmware is the same, you should experience similar download and loading times as you get with the internal storage.
That’s not to mention the look of the drive. Seagate offers a 2TB version, which is slim and blacked out, featuring only a PlayStation logo in the top right, a LED indicator in the top left and the Seagate logo in the bottom right. The 4TB version has a little more flare, featuring the same markings, but with a blue stripe that runs the perimeter of the drive.
Other Reasons We Like the Seagate Official PS4 Game Drive
The PS4 Game Drive is similar to a Seagate Portable in terms of performance, but it isn’t just a reskinned, overpriced version of that drive. The casing is fully aluminum, adding some rigidity to your setup and allowing you to easily transport the drive on the go.
Seagate also includes a three-year limited warranty, which is a year longer than the warranty offered for the Backup Plus Portable and normal portable drives. You still have access to Seagate’s Recover service, too, which offers up to three years of data recovery for only $14.99.
Lastly, because PS4 allows you to house multiple user accounts, you can take your game library with you. All you need to do is unplug the drive, sign in on another PS4 and play the games you’ve already downloaded.
- Official PlayStation branding
- Available up to 4TB
- Can be used with multiple systems
5. Toshiba Canvio Basics
The Toshiba Canvio Basics isn’t an impressive external hard drive on any account. The speed is decent for what it is, with a sequential read speed of 147.3 MB/s, a sequential write speed of 154.1 MB/s and random reads/writes between 1MB/z and 4MB/s. Although uninspiring, the Toshiba Canvio Basics is the cheapest way to expand your PS4’s storage.
Toshiba offers the Canvio Basics between 1TB and 4TB, with the high-capacity model clocking in for less than $100. On a price-per-gigabyte level, the value is excellent. We noted in our review that the price isn’t that great because of the lack of features, but this doesn’t really matter when you’re using the drive with a PS4.
The performance isn’t that bad, either. Although the Canvio Basics is destroyed when compared to something like the SanDisk Extreme Portable, it isn’t bad when matched against other portable spinning drives. The sequential performance is solid, and although random performance is lacking, you shouldn’t notice it too much when loading games.
More important is the build quality. Although the speed shouldn’t slow you down much, the construction of the drive will. It’s cheap and flimsy, much like the ADATA SD600. That isn’t an issue if you keep the drive in one spot, but if you plan on taking it on the go, it’s best to go with another drive.
Other Reasons We Like the Toshiba Canvio Basics
Price is the main reason we like the Toshiba Canvio Basics. The 1TB model, which is the cheapest in the range, costs less than $45, which is between $5 and $10 less than comparable drives. The savings stack higher up the range, with the the 4TB model showing the best price per gigabyte.
You’re giving up features for the price, though. Toshiba doesn’t include any utilities on the drive, and there’s nothing to download on Toshiba’s website. The only thing on the drive is a PDF that details the one-year limited warranty. The Toshiba Canvio Basics is purely functional, which, although unexciting, has its place. You can learn more in our Toshiba Canvio Basics review.
- Solid sequential performance
- Available up to 4TB
- Slow random performance
- Cheaply built
There are a lot of great external hard drives for PS4. For our money, we’d stick with either the Samsung T5 or the Western Digital My Book. The T5 will provide the best performance, but at the cost of space. The My Book is slightly slower, but it’s able to max out the PS4’s supported capacity.
The last three options are fairly interchangeable. Seagate offers better build quality and aesthetics, but at a slightly higher price point than the Toshiba Canvio Basics. If none of the options above seem like what you’re looking for, be sure to read our other external hard drive reviews.
What hard drive are you using with your PS4? Let us know in the comments below, and check out our best VPN for PS4 guide, too. As always, thanks for reading.