If you’re a gamer, you may find the game the best when you buy a digital copy. On top of that, services like Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus guarantee you a few free games to download each month. But with current generation games clocked at 50GB or more, the 500GB hard drive in your Xbox One or PlayStation 4 starts to fill up quickly.

It’s slightly better to use a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, as their games are usually under 10GB, but the hard drives on these consoles are also smaller, so it’s still a problem. Since you can also save music and movies on the console, they fill up quickly.

Fortunately, gamers can simply plug an external HDD into the console’s USB port and use it to make room on the internal drive. One thing you need to keep in mind is that the hard drive needs to be formatted before it can be used – which means that everything on the drive will be erased before you can use it.

If you have any important data on the drive, be sure to save it before proceeding with any of the steps below. Formatting a drive is an irreversible step that can take hours depending on the size of the drive, so make any backups as needed, then only start the process when you know you have time.

Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 can use up to 32GB of external storage in the FAT32 file system. For this reason, we recommend that you use a USB thumb drive instead of the Xbox 360’s external hard drive. While 32GB doesn’t sound like a lot, this will allow you to save at least three full games and their save data on a single pen drive. If you’re a fan of indie games, you might be a better fit.

One thing you need to do is make sure the thumb drive you’re using is on a FAT 32 filesystem – some guides suggest you can go straight to step 7 and the Xbox 360 will format the drive for you, but we tried a few different thumb drives drive, but this is not always the case. So you can try step 7 first, but if your USB drive is not detected, start with step 1.

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1. Connect the USB stick to your Windows PC and go to my computer.

2. Right-click the drive’s icon and click characteristic. Under the drive name, the file type should be stated. If it’s FAT32, you can skip to step 7. Otherwise, you need to format the drive. This will delete everything on the drive, so back up any data you need to keep.

3. The fastest way to convert it to FAT32 is to use the command prompt. First, press Windows key + R to display the Run dialog.

4. Type Order,then click OK.

5. In the pop-up window, enter the following text, omitting the quotation marks: “format /FS:FAT32 X:”. You need to change X: to the name of the drive.

You can see the drive’s name in the “My Computer” window – don’t accidentally type the wrong letter, as the process is irreversible once you confirm this command.

6. When the program runs, you will be prompted to press Enter. To be on the safe side, double-check the drive name you enter in the command before pressing enter. This completes the process, and you can confirm by checking the drive’s file system as described in step 2.
How to add an external hard drive to your Xbox, PS3 or PS4

7. To use the thumb drive, you can now eject it from the computer and connect it to the Xbox 360.

8. Go to System Settings > Memory > USB Storage > Configure Now. This process took a minute, after which we can store games, demos, save games to this drive.

You can also follow steps 1-6 to format an external HDD to FAT32, which can then be used with your Xbox 360. You can save movies and music to HDD and play from your Xbox 360 automatically, so if you are using the console as a music player. However, you won’t be able to use more than 32GB to save games.

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Playstation 3

Unlike the Xbox 360, you can’t save PS3 games to an external drive, so here we recommend using an external hard drive to save all the music, movies and TV shows you want to watch, while the games remain on the internal hard drive under your control on stage.

The PS3 also only recognizes FAT32 drives, so you’ll need to do steps 1-6 above first. After that there is one more thing you need to do to use it in the console.

1. After converting the drive to FAT32, go back to my computer and open the drive.

2. Create the following folders: music, photo, game and video. You can now populate all folders (except GAME) with the media content you want to access on your PS3.

While you can’t play games from an external hard drive, you can back up downloaded games to your hard drive; this means that if you delete a game, you don’t have to waste data redownloading it. To back up the game:

1. After connecting the hard drive to the PS3, go to Settings > System Settings > Backup Utility > Backup.

2. Select confirm then select USB drive, your entire PS3 will be backed up to the hard drive. This process will take some time. Once you’ve done this, you still won’t be able to play games from the external HDD, but if you need to make room, you can delete old games from your PS3 and transfer them back.

3. To restore the game from the backup, start the PS3 and go to Game > Save Data Utility

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4. Select External Hard Drive. Scroll the list to find the game you want to import.Press the triangle button on the controller and select copy. This will copy the backup to the PS3 and you can use it again.

Xbox One

Newer consoles are more computer-like and relatively simple to use with an external hard drive. For the Xbox One, there’s just one caveat – the hard drive must support USB 3.0 and be at least 256GB in size. USB 3.0 also has no minimum storage limits or requirements if you’re just looking at an external HDD to store media and not games.

1. To use it, just connect the HDD to your Xbox One. You will be asked if you want to format the hard drive.

2. You must select Yes to use the hard disk. The process is automatic and takes a little time. That’s it – once you do, it will automatically be used to save games and other stuff.

Playstation 4

PS4 doesn’t allow you to save games to an external hard drive. You just plug your external hard drive into your PS4 and use it to store all your movies and TV shows. You can copy video from PS4 to HDD so you can save all your gameplay without worrying about filling up your console’s storage. However, you can’t save games to an external drive with PS4. Since the PS4 supports USB 3.0, you’ll obviously get faster data transfer speeds if you use an external hard drive with USB 3.0 – but it’s also compatible with older hard drives.

We hope this guide helped you resolve the tight space issue on your console. If you have any console tips and tricks to share with our other readers, please let us know in the comments.