While they may have sufficed back in 2013 when the Xbox One launched, 500GB hard drives don’t quite cut it when there are half a decade’s worth of games to download. If you’re an Xbox One or Xbox One X owner currently, you’ll know of this trouble. Luckily, expanding your storage with an external hard drive is simple and affordable. We’ve gathered up a list of our top picks for the best external hard drive for Xbox One. Here they are.
Thankfully for all of us, when creating the Xbox One, Microsoft thought ahead far enough to realise that people would need to use external hard drives in order to install the games they want to play. Not only did the company build the system with external hard drive capabilities in mind, but have even gone as far as to partner up with Seagate to create an Xbox branded external hard drive – an officially licensed third-party drive, to be precise.
If you’d like to take a look at the other side of the gaming fence, you can check out our guide to the best external hard drive for PS4 as well, or have a look at the best Nintendo Switch Micro SD cards
Do I need an external hard drive for Xbox One?
If you’re only ever going to be playing a handful of games on your Xbox One S or Xbox One X console, then no, the answer is no. If, however, you’re going to be playing more than Madden, FIFA and Call of Duty each year, odds are very good that you’ll need an external hard drive sooner or later. Games are getting bigger with each passing release, with game storage demands ballooning up to 70GB and 80GB in some recent cases. If you’re trying to fit everything onto the built-in drive, you’re going to hit a wall sooner than you think.
How do I use an Xbox One external hard drive?
In order to connect an external hard drive to your Xbox One console, including the theoretical best external hard drive for Xbox One, it’s best to use a completely empty and fresh drive. Since the console will need to reformat the drive in order for it to work, if the drive has any content on it already, it’ll all be deleted. Once you’ve got a completely clean drive, you just need to connect it to the Xbox One via a USB cable and any one of the console’s numerous USB ports.
Once it’s all plugged in, boot up your Xbox One, navigate to the My Games and Apps section and you’ll see that your total storage space has been significantly upgraded. You can even sort your games and apps by ‘external’, ‘internal’, or ‘all’ in order to keep tabs on what you have installed on each drive.
Finding the best Xbox One external hard drive
Hard drives are one of the more intricate bits of computer hardware that you can buy, with a wide variety of variations, sizes, speeds and variations that can affect the overall performance. Before you put your cash down, we’ve prepared some key advice to make this whole process just a little bit easier.
First things first, if you’re getting an external drive, make sure it is USB 3.0. The Xbox One won’t be able to recognise any HDD that is USB 2.0 or below and only works with USB 3.0 drives. That shouldn’t really be a problem if you’re buying a brand new drive in this day and age but it’s worth knowing regardless. After that, make sure you get a drive that is at least 256GB since once again, Xbox One systems don’t recognise any driver smaller than that. In reality, you’re probably going to be getting a much bigger drive than the one already in the system, but once again, it’s worth keeping in mind regardless.
Don’t worry about individual brand names too much, either. There are a lot of companies out there manufacturing hard drives but barring some minor differences, the vast majority of these drives will be largely comparable. As long as its USB 3.0, you should be good when it comes to individual brands.
The other main thing to keep in mind is whether you want an SSD or an HDD. Solid State Drives (SSDs) are much faster than regular hard drives but come at a much higher price. In all reality, the speeds you’ll be getting some a USB connection will already hamper some of the SSDs effectiveness, but if read speed is that important to you and you’re willing to pay for it, the choice is there. Just keep in mind that SSDs won’t be giving you anywhere near the same amount of storage for your money as HDDs.
One last thing before we move onto our top picks – if you happen to have an internal drive that previously lived in a PC or console laying around somewhere, you can absolutely use that. Provided it still works, all you’ll need to do is pick up a USB 3.0 enclosure (these generally aren’t very expensive), slot your existing drive into that and plug it in via USB cable. This method actually makes SSDs more effective, too, as the Xbox One is able to take advantage of the extra speed through USB 3.0.
The best external hard drive for Xbox One
To make all of this a little easier to read through, we’re going to be separating our hard drive choices into lists according to storage size. We’ll start our list at 1TB and go higher than that purely because, let’s face it, if you’re going to be upgrading your storage, you really should get a minimum of 1TB. I mean, come on.
Best 1TB external hard drives
Our first stop is this set of 1TB external drives. 1TB might not seem like much at first, but keep in mind that you’ll be adding this on top of whatever storage space is already built into your Xbox One already. An extra TB is going to go a long way for quite a while before filling up again, bringing a 500GB console up to 1.5TB instantly.
In the UK:
- Seagate Expansion 1TB portable drive for £47.99
- Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB portable drive for £43
- WD 1TB My Passport external drive for £50
- Seagate 1TB Backup Plus Slim drive for £49.99
In the US:
- Seagate Expansion 1TB portable drive for $54.99
- Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB portable drive for $49.99
- WD 1TB My Passport external drive for $55
- Seagate 1TB Backup Plus Slim drive for $56.18
Best 2TB external hard drives
2TB drives are where things really start getting interesting, with this amount of space, you’ll be more than comfortable installing almost every game you’ve got for quite some time. With external drives being what they are, it also means you can unplug this drive and take your drive full of games to a friend’s house and get gaming instantly, as long as you take your profile with it.
In the UK:
- Seagate Expansion 2TB portable drive for £62
- WD 2TB Elements portable drive for £72
- Seagate 2TB Backup Plus Slim external drive for £67.99
- Seagate 2TB Game Drive for Xbox for £73
In the US:
- Seagate Expansion 2TB portable drive for $69.99
- WD 2TB Elements portable drive for $69.99
- Seagate 2TB Backup Plus Slim external drive for $69
- Seagate 2TB Game Drive for Xbox for $86
Best 4TB external hard drives
For those who want to be extra secure or just want the biggest and best thing around, these 4TB drives will almost defnitely mean you’ll be able to install all your games at once and keep them installed for years to come. Maybe start buying games that take up a lot of space just on principle, maybe.
In the UK:
- Seagate 4TB Backup Plus portable drive for £99.99
- WD 4TB My Passport portable hard drive for £109
- Seagate Expansion 4TB external hard drive for £107.99
In the US:
- Seagate 4TB Backup Plus portable drive for $109
- WD 4TB My Passport portable hard drive for $109.99
- Seagate Expansion 4TB external hard drive for $99.99
Solid State Drives
Of course, we’re not quite done yet. We’ve covered a whole range of our top picks for the best external hard drive for Xbox One, but what about the SSDs we mentioned earlier? If you’re dead-set on picking up one of these pricier drives, we’ve got a few top picks for them as well. Not all external Solid State Drives are USB 3.0, though, so if you end up ordering a SATA drive, be sure to pick up a SATA to USB 3.0 external enclosure as well, after which you’ll be good to go.
In the UK:
- Samsung T3 USB 3.1 external Solid State Drive for £179.99
- SanDisk 500GB Extreme 500 portable Solid State Drive for £144.99
- PNY Elite USB 3.0 portable SSD for £122.30
In the US:
- Samsung T3 USB 3.1 external Solid State Drive for $229.95
- SanDisk 500GB Extreme 500 portable Solid State Drive for $155.99
- PNY Elite USB 3.0 portable SSD for $98.99
There you have it, those are our top picks for the very best external hard drive for Xbox One, available right now at least. We’ll be keeping this page as updated as possible in order to bring you the very best external hard drives for Xbox One S, Xbox One S and any other future models, as and when tech evolves and prices drop.
As mentioned previously, if you’d like to take a look at the other side of the gaming fence, you can check out our guide to the best external hard drive for PS4 as well, or have a look at the best Nintendo Switch Micro SD cards. There’s a whole lot more storage space to be had out there. Good luck!