While Microsoft’s initial run of Xbox One S consoles includes 500 GB, 1 TB and even 2 TB options, users will eventually face the same issue we see on smartphones and tablets: That storage will simply fill up as we install apps and games. Fortunately, there’s a solution.
I was among those who purchased an Xbox One S 2 TB Launch Edition console specifically because I kept running into storage issues on my original Xbox One, which features a smaller 512 GB hard drive. (Speaking of which, if you want one too, act quickly: The 2 TB version of the Xbox One S will soon sell out, but you can still get it now at Amazon.com for $400.) Even still, the available storage—which is closer to 1.6 TB than 2 TB, go figure—is filling up quickly. With 10 games installed, I’ve used up 22 percent of my storage, or about 400 GB. And I still have a lot more to install.
The issue, of course, is that Xbox One games are ginormous. Most are north of 20 GB, and Call of Duty: Black Ops III, with just two of the four planned map packs installed, occupies 70 GB of space. Halo: The Master Chief Collection—which, granted, includes four full games—is even bigger once you get all the DLC (downloadable content) installed.
With two of the three Xbox 360 models that Microsoft offered over the years, there was an elegant way to replace the internal hard drive with a newer drive with more capacity. But starting with the Xbox 360 E, and continuing through both generations of Xbox One, Microsoft no longer offers this option. Instead, you can only expand the device’s storage by adding an external USB-based hard drive (HDD).
Fortunately, this is very easy. And mobile HDDs don’t even require an additional power supply, so you may not need to deal with extra wires. And they’re cheap.
There are just two requirements: The disk must be 256 GB or bigger, and it must be USB 3.0, I assume for performance reasons. (Speaking of which, if you get a faster 7200 RPM HDD, it’s possible that games and apps stored there will actually load slightly faster than they do from the internal Xbox One S HDD.)
Configuring a drive for Xbox One couldn’t be easier: Simply plug the HDD into an available USB port. When you do, you’ll be prompted to choose how you’d like to use the drive: As a media drive (where you access music, videos, or photos on the disk using entertainment apps) or for game and app storage.
If you choose the latter, the drive will need to be formatted: Xbox One S uses a proprietary disk format. So choose “Format storage device.” You’ll be prompted to giv the drive a name—“External” is the default—and then to decide whether this new disk is the default storage location for future game and app installs.
Then, you’ll be prompted to actually format the disk.
From here, you can navigate to Settings, System, Storage to see and manage the new disk. (Note that the default save location is marked here, too.)
If you select the disk, you will see various options related to disk management, including View contents (which displays the My Games & Apps view of that disk), Install here by default, Rename, and Format.
From here, you can happily move on to installing new games and apps to the new disk. But you can also move games and apps from the internal drive to the external HDD if you’d like. To do so, launch My Games & Apps, noting that there is a new filter for All Storage, Internal, and External. Select an installed game you’d like to move and then press the Menu button on your controller. In the pop-up menu that appears, choose Manage Game.
From this screen, choose “Move all” and then “Move.” The game will be moved to the internal drive immediately.
Note: If you do choose to remove this drive from your Xbox One S, you’ll need to format it again to use it with your PC. To do, plug the HDD into a USB port on your PC. Then, launch the Disk Management utility (WINKEY + X, Disk Management in Windows 10) and follow the prompts to initialize the disk. Then, right-click the disk and choose “Simple Volume” and follow the wizard to format the disk.