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How To Install And Use An External Hard Drive With The Xbox Series X

How To Install And Use An External Hard Drive With The Xbox Series X


By Rob Rich/June 29, 2023 6:35 pm EST

The Xbox Series X is capable of quite a lot, but with the storage demands of many modern games, its 1TB out-of-the-box available space often fills up very quickly. Once you’re full, you’ll have to start deleting some of your digital games to make room for new ones, which is why it supports a bevy of external hard drive options — as well as official partner expansion options from Seagate and Western Digital. If you find yourself in need of more storage space, you have plenty of choices.

Any external HDD or SSD that can connect via one of the console’s USB 3.0 ports is compatible, with the caveat being that you won’t be able to play Xbox Series X|S games directly off of the drive itself. Instead, you’ll need to transfer the game from the external drive to your Xbox’s internal one, which gets the job done and can be a handy way to free up internal memory by archiving games you don’t play often, but it does complicate things a bit. 

Games from older Xbox consoles can be played on your Series X from the external drive without a problem. Expansion cards from both Seagate and Western Digital, on the other hand, can run Series X|S games without the need to transfer them over to your console’s internal drive. Whichever storage solution you decide to go with, the setup process should be painless and relatively simple.

How to set up an external hard drive on Xbox Series X

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First, make sure your external drive supports USB 3.1, and if it does, then you’re good to go. To get started:

  1. Turn on the console.
  2. Plug the external drive into one of the Xbox’s USB ports. You’ll know it works if you see a “Use for media, or games & apps?” pop-up.
  4. Choose a name for the new drive.
  6. Wait for the formatting process to finish.

Keep in mind that you will be able to run older games directly from the external drive (i.e., original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One titles) but not Series X|S games. This means Series X|S titles can be transferred to the external drive, but you’ll need to transfer them back to internal system storage when you want to play them.

How to transfer games between internal and external storage on Xbox Series X

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Assuming you have an external drive set up on your Xbox Series X, it’s important to know how to move your digital games between it and the console’s own built-in storage.

  1. Open the Guide by pressing the Xbox button.
  2. Select My games & apps.
  3. Find the game you want to transfer.
  4. Highlight the game and press the View button.
  5. Select the game, then choose Move or copy from the drop-down menu.
  6. Use the drop-down menus above the game’s icon to choose where you’re transferring the game from and to. Select Internal for internal storage and your external drive’s name for external (or your Seagate expansion card if you’re using one).
  7. If you’re transferring more than one game at a time, choose “Select all.”
  8. Choose “Move selected,” then wait for the transfer to finish.

Repeat these steps to move your games back and forth as needed, whether to make room for more downloads or to get your Series X|S games back on the console itself.

How to use official Xbox Series X expansion cards

Hooking up an expansion card from Seagate (or Western Digital) is even simpler as it’s basically a plug-and-play process. Literally, in either case, all you have to do is locate the expansion slot on the back of your console (it should be nestled between the vent openings, next to the ethernet port) and plug it in.

Unlike external drives, Seagate and Western Digital expansion cards are designed specifically to work with Xbox Series X|S consoles, so you shouldn’t have to worry about formatting. Another upside is that you can play digital Series X|S games directly from the card itself — no need to transfer anything to the console’s own internal storage beforehand. Also, unlike external drives, both companies’ expansion cards tuck into the back of the Xbox Series X without the need for a USB connection, so you won’t have to think about where they’ll sit on the shelf with your console or worry about the USB cable accidentally being unplugged.

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