How to set up a USB external storage on Xbox One for new games and apps

In this new guide, we’ll go through the instructions setting up a USB external storage on your Xbox One and the process of moving already installed games to the new drive.

Seagate Game Drive for Xbox

Originally, Microsoft launched its Xbox One game console with a 500GB internal hard drive, which is about 25 times larger than the internal hard drive shipped in the original Xbox 360 console. While it seems that users will have more space to install new games and apps, it’s not a large enough storage as most games can take somewhere between 25GB to 50GB of space, and even more.

Of course, there are smaller games that can only take less than 7GB, but the most popular games, such as Halo 5: Guardians and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare take up between 50GB to 64GB of storage space — and even more as new updates are released –. This means that on average, most Xbox One owners can fit somewhere between 12 to 20 games using the console with 500GB of storage.

Microsoft is also offering versions of its Xbox One console with 1TB internal hard drives, but it’s just a matter of time before they fill up too. Even more when considering all the games you can now get for free through the Games with Gold program, which not only includes Xbox One games, but Xbox 360 games as well that you can play through the Xbox One Backward Compatibility feature.

To overcome the limited storage problem, every Xbox One include external storage support, which simply means that you can buy an external USB hard drive that the console can use to store new games and apps. As such, today in this guide we’ll go through the steps to set up a USB external storage on your Xbox One console and how you can properly move games stored in the internal drive to the new device.

Requirements

Although, you don’t need to buy an official proprietary Xbox One external hard drive, you need to buy a compatible storage that meets the following requirements:

  • Storage must use a USB 3.0 connection. If you’re connecting the drive through a hub, the hub has to use USB 3.0 or later technology.
  • The hard drive must be 256GB or larger.
  • If the device you’re connecting doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, then it will be treated as media storage for music and video only.

Set up a USB storage on Xbox One

You can use pretty much any external USB 3.0 hard drive you can find. Personally, I’m using a 3TB Seagate USB 3.0 external hard drive, which I used to use as my backup drive in my computer, as I recently bought a Toshiba 5TB Canvio (HDWC250XK3J1) to replace it.

Keep in mind that in order to make drive usable to store new games and apps, Xbox One needs to erase and reformat the drive, which means that you will lose all the content on the drive, as such make sure to backup your data before connecting the external hard drive to your Xbox One.

If you choose to go an Xbox One certified external hard drive, you can purchase the Seagate Game Drive for Xbox 2TB Green (STEA2000403) on Amazon for around $100.

Now let’s get started with the set up:

When you connect the external USB 3.0 hard drive to your Xbox One, the console should automatically, detect the new device and guide you through the process, which involves:

  1. Choose the Format storage device.

    Set up new external drive on Xbox One

  2. Typing a name of the storage. Here you want to use a descriptive name, e.g., 3TB USB.

    Rename the storage on Xbox One

  3. Choosing the Install new things here option.

    Install new things here on Xbox One

  4. If you were already running out of space, you will be immediately prompted to install games on queue on the new drive. If so, simply choose the Install option.

    Install Xbox One option 0x80070070_large

Manual external storage detection

If the console doesn’t seem to recognize the external storage, you can do the detection process manually:

  1. Open the left pane to access the new menu and go to Settings.

  2. Navigate through All settings > System > Storage.

    Storage settings on Xbox One

  3. Select the new drive and you should be able to go through the setup process.

Troubleshooting external hard drive

Installing update

If your Xbox One still unable to detect the drive, it’s possible that you’re not running the latest update, in which case you need to manually update your console:

  1. Open the left pane to access the new menu and go to Settings.
  2. Navigate through All settings > System > Console info & updates.
  3. If your console is missing an update, you should see an Update available message, just install the updates and go back to the Storage settings to see if your hard drive is being detected.

Power management control

If the previous steps didn’t solve the issue, it could be a problem with the power management, more specifically with the Instant-On setting.

  1. Open the left pane to access the new menu and go to Settings.
  2. Navigate through All settings > System > Power.
  3. Go to Power mode and make sure you uncheck the “When Xbox is off, turn off storage” option.

Additional troubleshooting steps

If everything fails, try to disconnect and reconnect the drive, try using a different USB port on the console, or try a full reboot by pressing the power button in the console for 10 seconds and then start the console again.

Move Xbox games to new external drive

After setting up the external hard drive on your Xbox One, only new games and apps will install automatically in the new drive. If the internal hard drive of your console is full, you will have to manually move games and apps to the new device. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. From the Xbox One dashboard, go to My games & apps.

  2. Go to Games, select a game, press the Menu (hamburger menu button in your controller), and select Manage game.

    Manage game option on Xbox One

  3. Select the dropdown menu, select Move all, and then Move, to move the game to the newly installed drive.

    Moving Xbox One games to new external hard drive

  4. Repeat the process for each game and app, you want to move the new storage.

Quick tip: If you’re in the Xbox One Preview Program, you may want to consider moving all your games to the external hard drive you have just set up, because it could happen that a preview may contain a number of bugs that could make the console unusable, and the only way to roll back is by resetting your console to the factory default settings, which will delete all your games from the console. While you won’t lose the right re-download the games, it’s a time consuming process.

Remember that when you’re in “My games & apps”, you should be able to see your entire games collection. If you’re only seeing a partial list, it’s likely because, you’re only showing games from one drive. If this is the case, select the Store device drop down menu, and select All.

How much storage space are you using in your Xbox One? How many games do you have installed? Tell us in the comments below.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me.