Best External Hard Drive for Xbox One

Sony and Microsoft have tried their best to keep up with the demands of modern games in terms of processing power. The Xbox One X and PS4 Pro have expanded the functionality of their base systems in lieu of a new console generation, providing support for 4K gaming, enhanced textures and more. 

However, one area that’s been overlooked in that process is storage. The Xbox One X, for example, only offers 1TB of capacity. Although this would have been impressive a few years ago, games have gotten much larger in the past couple of years, making the 1TB internal hard drive look pathetic in comparison.

Thankfully, though, you can expand your Xbox One’s storage with an external hard drive. In this guide to the best external hard drive for Xbox One, we’re going to show you our top picks for Microsoft’s gaming console. We’ve pulled drives from our best external hard drive guide to ensure you get the best in terms of speed, capacity and build quality. 

Before getting to our picks, we want to talk about how we made our selections, as well as how you can use an external hard drive with your Xbox One.

Best External Hard Drive for Xbox One 2019

cloudwards rating
current best price
top features
  1. 1
    • 3 TB, 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 10 TB Capacity
    • Backup utility
    • Spinning Hard Drive Type
  2. Western Digital My Book Review
  1. 2
    • 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB Capacity
    • Backup utility
    • Spinning Hard Drive Type
  2. Seagate Backup Plus Portable Review
  1. 3
    • 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB Capacity
    • Backup utility
    • Spinning Hard Drive Type
  2. Seagate Portable Review
  1. 4
    • 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB Capacity
    • Backup utility
    • Spinning Hard Drive Type
  2. Toshiba Canvio Basics Review
  1. 5
    • 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB Capacity
    • Backup utility
    • Spinning Hard Drive Type
  2. LaCie Rugged Mini Review

Choosing the Best External Hard Drive for Xbox One

It’s all about capacity when choosing an external hard drive for Xbox One. Although we don’t recommend choosing one drive over another purely based on price per gigabyte, Microsoft likes to include massive textures with its games, especially those that have been Xbox One X enhanced. 

That makes games huge. For a few points of reference, Forza Motorsport 7 is 95GB, Gears of War 4 is 103.3GB and Halo 5: Guardians is 107GB. Combined with a few smaller games — in the case of Xbox One X, around 20GB to 25GB — you’re already at half of the capacity of the internal 1TB hard drive.

Capacity is what we looked for first, sometimes at the cost of speed. That’s because the USB ports on the Xbox One and Xbox One X are only USB 3.0, not USB 3.1. Even if the drive you’re using is backward-compatible with USB 3.0, you won’t be able to take advantage of the disk’s full bandwidth. 

That makes external SSDs, such as the Samsung T5 or SanDisk Extreme Portable, much less attractive (read our Samsung T5 review and SanDisk Extreme Portable review). 

Although they may work with the Xbox One, you won’t be able to fully take advantage of their speed. Still, if you have some disposable income and want the fastest possible loading times, our best SSD external hard drive guide will get you set up. 

Normally, we recommend the smallest and fastest external hard drive around, but that’s not the case for the Xbox One. Because the console is likely to have a permanent home, the drive that goes along with it can have a permanent home, too. Because of that, it’s important to balance speed and capacity, while size and form factor take a backseat.

How to Use an External Hard Drive with Xbox One

Connecting an external hard drive to your Xbox One is very simple, though that might not be apparent at first. After purchasing your drive — ensuring that it’s USB 3.0 — unbox it and the cable and head to your Xbox One. After that, follow these steps: 

  1. Connect your external hard drive with the included USB cable. The USB ports in the front and back of the Xbox One will work. 
  2. After the drive has been detected, select “format storage device.”
  3. Give the drive a name and select “install new things here.” 
  4. Finally, select “format storage device.”

Note that if you’re using an external hard drive with data on it, all of that data will be erased when you format the drive for your Xbox One. You can learn more about that in our how to format an external hard drive guide. 

From then on, all future games will be installed on the external hard drive. If, for whatever reason, you want to move games and apps around, you can do so from the storage settings page. To get there, follow these steps:

  1. Select “settings”
  2. Go to the “system” tab
  3. Select “storage”

On the storage page, you’ll be able to see the titles you currently have installed, as well as the available space on your internal and external hard drives. If you want to move games and apps, select them using the checkboxes, then click on “move selected.” From there, you can choose where you want to move the applications.

Best External Hard Drive for Xbox One: Western Digital My Book

When it comes to raw capacity, there’s no external hard drive better than the Western Digital My Book. Although its large form factor and need for external power are usually cons, those downsides don’t matter as much for the Xbox One. It requires a little extra setup, but you can get a lot of capacity for very little money with a My Book. 

western-digital-my-book-1

Unlike something like the Seagate Portable (read our Seagate Portable review), the Western Digital My Book is available up to 10TB . That’s just for the single-drive version, too. 

Western Digital also offers a dual drive version that goes up to 20TB. The dual drive version ships with RAID-0 preconfigured, as well, which should improve load times (read our what is RAID guide). 

Because the My Book is a desktop drive, it can support much higher capacities. Portable drives, which come in a 2.5-inch form factor, have less physical room to house platters, meaning you can’t storage as much data on them. Furthermore, they generally perform worse than their desktop counterparts, as the read/write head has less room to move. 

The My Book solves that issue. Inside the 6TB drive we tested is a Western Digital Red hard drive, which is built for network-attached storage

Because of the traditional form factor, Western Digital can deliver more capacity and speed while keeping the price per gigabyte around something like the Western Digital Elements (read our Western Digital Elements review).

Other Reasons We Like the Western Digital My Book

The larger size of the Western Digital My Book is clunky during setup, but it pays off in use. The internal Western Digital Red drive performs surprisingly well considering it’s a spinning disk. 

We noted sequential read and write speeds above 200 MB/s during our testing, with an excellent random write performance of around 12 MB/s. In fact, the Western Digital My Book made our list of the fastest external hard drives

Random read performance wasn’t as great, though, which could pose some issues with the Xbox One. Given the random write speed we noted, the disk itself shouldn’t restrict how quickly you install games. Some slower disks need time to write the data that’s being downloaded, which bloats the install time. 

The Western Digital My Book doesn’t have that problem, but it may mean slightly longer loading times. “Slightly” is the key word here, though. You’re giving up a little bit of speed while playing the game to gain a lot of speed while downloading it. You can see our full test results and read our full thoughts in our Western Digital My Book review.

Pros:

  • Available up to 10TB
  • Fast for a HDD
  • USB 3.0

Cons:

  • Large 
  • Requires external power

Seagate Backup Plus Portable

The Seagate Backup Plus Portable is the reserved cousin of the Western Digital My Book. It isn’t available in massive capacities, topping out at 5TB, but it comes with a more refined aesthetic and a smaller form factor. It manages faster random read performance, too, which should help with loading times. 

There are a lot of variations of the Seagate Backup Plus Portable, so for this entry, we’re including all of them. There’s the standard version, which is available in 4TB and 5TB capacities and is the cheapest of the bunch on a price-per-gigabyte scale. 

Then there’s the Slim version, which is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities and comes with a smaller form factor. Lastly, there’s the Ultra Touch version, which comes with a woven fabric top, support for USB-C and hardware encryption. 

The extra features on the Ultra Touch version aren’t really relevant for Xbox One, so we recommend saving your money there. The Slim version is smaller and comes in more colors, but at the cost of capacity. On the other hand, the standard version is available in higher capacities, but it’s about twice the width of the Slim drive. 

As for speed, the Seagate Backup Plus Portable isn’t as fast as the Western Digital My Book, but that rarely poses an issue with the Xbox One. While testing it on an Xbox One X, we weren’t hindered by the drive during game downloads, and the loading performance was on par with the Xbox One’s internal hard drive. 

Other Reasons We Like the Seagate Backup Plus Portable

Outside of the Xbox One, the Seagate Backup Plus Portable is very impressive. That’s because it comes with Seagate Toolkit, which gives the drive much more functionality than simply storing new files. When you plug it into a PC or Mac, you’ll be taken through an online setup where you can register the drive and download Toolkit. 

Once installed, Toolkit will ask if you want to use the drive to backup your machine or mirror an existing hard drive. The mirroring feature does exactly what the name implies. Any time you do something to the drive it’s mirroring, that change will be reflected on your Backup Plus Portable. Backups are similar, but you can choose specific folders and files you want to backup. 

Because of that, the Seagate Backup Plus Portable isn’t just a great drive for Xbox One, it’s also an essential part of a 3-2-1 backup solution when you use the drive with an online backup service like Backblaze (read our Backblaze review). You can see how the drive fits in that configuration in our Seagate Backup Plus Portable review

Pros:

  • Available up to 5TB
  • Attractive exterior
  • Seagate Toolkit included

Cons:

  • On the slow side

Seagate offers a range of drives specifically for Xbox One and Xbox 360. Among the list of options is a SSD, a large form-factor solution and a standard game drive, which is what this entry is for. 

The standard game drive is, essentially, a normal Seagate Portable drive with some extra branding. However, it provides some upsides for the Xbox One. 

First off, it’s ready to go out of the box. Instead of going through the process of setting up the drive, as we described above, all you need to do is plug it in and select how you want to store your games. It works across consoles, too, so you can take your library anywhere there’s a system. 

Additionally, the drive comes with an additional offer, depending on the capacity you purchase. The Game Pass version, which is the same drive with a white exterior, comes with either a month or two months of Xbox Game Pass for free. 

The Game Drive is available in 2TB and 4TB capacities, which, compared to the Western Digital My Book, isn’t impressive. However, Seagate also offers the Game Drive Hub, which comes in an 8TB capacity. In addition to offering more storage, the Game Drive Hub also includes two USB 3.0 ports for plugging in extra peripherals.

Other Reasons We Like the Seagate Xbox One Game Drive

In addition to the Game Drive and Game Drive Hub, Seagate also offers a Game Drive SSD. It’s available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities, but we wouldn’t recommend it over the standard Game Drive. Although you will see a performance benefit over the standard Game Drive, you probably won’t reach the 540 MB/s speed that’s advertised. 

As we saw in our ADATA SD600 review, USB 3.0-based SSDs are limited in their speed because the interface they’re transferring data over gets maxed out. 

The performance is lackluster compared to a USB 3.1-based SSD (read our G-Technology G-Drive Mobile SSD review for an example). Because of that, the Game Drive SSD, although worth the price, is neutered by the connection. 

Overall, though, the main draw to the Game Drive series is aesthetics. You’re not getting much of a performance benefit over a standard Seagate Portable drive despite spending around $30 more. That said, there are upsides for Xbox One. For example, Seagate is currently selling a Gear of War 5-themed drive that comes with some in-game content.

Pros:

  • Xbox-themed
  • Ready to use out of the box
  • Game Drive Hub available

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Little performance benefit over standard Seagate Portable drive

Toshiba Canvio Basics

If you’re looking to get a lot of storage for very little money, the Toshiba Canvio Basics is for you. Although flimsy and a bit slow, the Canvio Basics is the cheapest drive we’ve reviewed on a cost-per-gigabyte basis. It’s the epitome of function over form, but that ends up saving you some money in the process. 

It’s a portable drive, similar to the Seagate Backup Plus Portable and Game Drive, and available up to 4TB. We recommend sticking with the 1TB or 2TB model, though. In addition to performing faster, the smaller capacities show the greatest value. 

The 4TB model is technically cheaper on a price-per-gigabyte scale, but the overall higher cost shows diminishing returns when it comes to performance. 

Compared to the Seagate drive, the Toshiba Canvio Basics actually performed better on sequential reads and writes, clocking in with a sequential read speed of 147.3 MB/s and a sequential write speed of 154.1 MB/s. 

However, random performance — particularly random reads — suffered. The Canvio Basics had around half the random read speed of the Seagate Portable.

That trade-off is made up for in the random write performance. Similar to the Western Digital My Book, the Toshiba Canvio Basics should write games to the drive very quickly. That trade-off comes with increased load times, though.

Other Reasons We Like the Toshiba Canvio Basics

Like the Western Digital My Book, the Toshiba Canvio Basics is a drive we normally wouldn’t recommend. That’s because it lacks essential features, like a backup utility, despite the fact that it’s cheaper than the competition. For Xbox One, though, those extra features don’t matter, making the Canvio Basics much more attractive. 

Although it’s portable, we’d recommend keeping the Canvio Basics in one spot. It can be transported, but the flimsy shroud can only handle a drop or two before being rendered useless.  The cost savings comes from somewhere and, in this case, it’s from the build quality. 

Even so, the Toshiba Canvio Basics presents a lot of extra game storage for very little money. If all you’re concerned with is padding your capacity, it’s a safe bet. You can learn more in our Toshiba Canvio Basics review.

Pros:

  • Very inexpensive
  • Available up to 4TB
  • Solid random write performance

Cons:

  • Poor build quality
  • Slow random read speeds

LaCie Rugged Mini

The LaCie Rugged Mini is the antithesis of the Toshiba Canvio Basics when it comes to build quality. It’s built like a tank, featuring an all-metal body and orange shock protector. If you’re on the go and want to take your games with you, the LaCie Rugged Mini is your ideal external hard drive. 

In addition to being rain-resistant, the LaCie Rugged Mini can handle a drop of four feet and up to 2,205 pounds of pressure while functioning. Although that’s not too impressive compared to a SSD, the fact that LaCie can pack in that much protection on a spinning drive shouldn’t go unnoticed. 

LaCie is actually owned by Seagate, so all of the positives with the Seagate Backup Plus Portable apply here, too. You still have access to the same fluid setup and Seagate Toolkit. Although that doesn’t matter much for Xbox One, it’s important if you ever decide to repurpose the drive for you computer. 

Like the Toshiba Canvio Basics, the drive is available up to 4TB, but that comes at a cost. Because of the extra build quality, LaCie charges around $25 more than other portable HDDs. The extra cost means you can easily transport your entire library of games without risk of failure, though.

Other Reasons We Like the LaCie Rugged Mini

Build quality is why you buy the LaCie Rugged Mini. Otherwise, it’s a fairly unimpressive drive. During our testing, we noted a sequential read speed of 133.9 MB/s, a sequential write speed of 27.9 MB/s, a random read speed of 1.1 MB/s and a random write speed of 0.89 MB/s. 

Interestingly, the LaCie Rugged Mini is focused much more on read performance than write performance. For the Xbox One, that means you’re trading off some speed while downloading a game for faster loading times. 

Although our above picks will give you overall faster speed, the LaCie Rugged Mini is too far behind. That said, you’ll have to contend with games taking a while to download if you’re interested in picking one up.

For those who plan on keeping their game library stationary, the LaCie Rugged Mini is simply an overpriced and underperforming external HDD. However, if you’re interested in taking your games on the go, there’s no suitable substitute. You can learn more in our LaCie Rugged Mini review.

Pros:

  • Built like a tank
  • Available up to 4TB
  • Solid read performance

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Poor write performance

Final Thoughts

For overall performance and capacity, the Western Digital My Book is the best external hard drive for Xbox One. However, it comes at the cost of portability. If you’re looking for something that can be transported, the Seagate Backup Plus Portable can scratch that itch. If aesthetics are more your game, the Seagate Game Drive is an excellent solution. 

No matter what your pick is, the drives above will expand your Xbox One’s storage while keeping load times low. That said, there are other options. If you want to shop around a bit more, be sure to read our other external hard drives reviews

What external hard drive are you using with your Xbox One? Why did you choose it? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading.

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