The Xbox One is a fantastic console with hundreds of impressive A-list game titles on its roster. And with the release of the amped-up Xbox One X with support for 4K graphics, it’s gotten even better.
But there is one glaring flaw with the console: its tiny internal hard drive.
500 GB might have been good enough when the Xbox One first launched back in 2013, but with today’s games that rack up 100+ GB file sizes, it doesn’t suffice anymore.
The best and easiest solution? Get an Xbox One external hard drive. And with storage space becoming cheaper nowadays, it’s a cost-effective solution, too.
To help you out, here is our definitive guide to buying the best external hard drive for Xbox One.
Best External Hard Drive for Xbox One 2021
|Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB||1 TB||5,400 RPM||USB 3.0 and 2.0||4.4|
|Seagate 2TB Game Drive||2 TB||5,400 RPM||USB 3.0 and 2.0||4.4|
|WD Black P10 3TB Game Drive||3 TB||5,400 RPM||USB 3.0 and 2.0||4.6|
|WD Elements 4TB||4 TB||5,400 RPM||USB 3.0||4.5|
|Lacie Rugged 5TB||5 TB||5,400 RPM||USB 3.0, USB-C||4.7|
|Seagate Desktop 8TB||8 TB||160 MB/s||USB 3.0||4.6|
|Fantom Drive FD 8TB||8 TB||7,200 RPM||USB 3.0||4.7|
|Seagate Game Drive Hub||8 TB||220 MB/s||USB 3.0||4.7|
|G-Technology G-Drive 2TB||2 TB||130 MB/s||USB 3.0||4.6|
|Novus Rugged 6TB Hard Drive||6 TB||N/A||USB 3.0||4.8|
|Samsung T5 Portable 2TB SSD||2 TB||540 MB/s||USB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A||4.9|
|Seagate Barracuda 500GB SSD||500 GB||540 MB/s||USB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A||4.7|
Toshiba Canvio Basics 1TB
- Capacity: 1 TB (available in 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB variants)
- Dimensions: 4.3 x 3.1 x 0.55 inches
- Weight: 5.28 ounces
- Speed: 5,400 RPM
- Interface: USB 3.0 and 2.0
The Toshiba Canvio is one of the best cheap external hard drives for Xbox One that you can buy. It comes at up to 4 TB in size, but the 1 TB is particularly fantastic in terms of value for money.
The Canvio comes in the Basic and Advanced versions. The difference is the latter comes in more colors and has auto backup and password protection built-in. However, these features only work with the One X, making it arguably the best external hard drive for Xbox One X, but it does make it more expensive.
The Basic version costs less and provides the same range in capacity. That’s why we recommend going with it unless you want the various colors the Advanced version offers.
The hard drive itself is slim and slick with a gorgeous glossy shell. The Canvio is light, which makes it an excellent option for hauling your game files around. The speed is standard for a hard drive and is on par with what you can buy for your Xbox One. It’s straightforward to install and requires no external power source.
The best thing about the Canvio is it’s incredible value for money. The 1 TB model sets you back at just below $50, with a cost per GB at around $0.04.
Overall, if you’re a casual gamer who just wants a modest storage boost to store some of your favorite games, the Toshiba Canvio 1 TB Basics is a good pick. It strips away all non-essential features, making for a straightforward and budget-friendly Xbox One hard drive.
- Great value for money
- Lightweight design
- Decent read and write speeds
- Outer enclosure feels cheaply made
Seagate 2TB Game Drive
- Capacity: 2 TB (also available in 4TB variant)
- Dimensions: 4.6 x 3.15 x 0.58 inches
- Weight: 5.92 ounces
- Speed: 5,400 RPM / 140 MB/s
- Interface: USB 3.0 and 2.0
The Seagate Game Drive is an official external hard drive for the Xbox One and features the same familiar green color and Xbox logo. This tells you one thing – this drive will work seamlessly with your console.
The Game Drive comes in 2 TB and 4 TB models, and we’re reviewing the 2 TB version here as we feel it’s an excellent middle ground for most gamers needs. This external hard drive uses the same USB 3.0 connectivity that gives lag-free gameplay when titles are loaded directly from the Game Drive.
This comes in the same iconic Xbox green color so that it will fit right in with the motif. However, you can also purchase special editions of the drive, with design tie-ins with games like Gears 5 and Cyberpunk 2077. Some versions, like the Game Pass, even include a one-month membership to the Xbox Game Pass service.
The only drawback with the Game Drive is that it’s more expensive than other hard drives with comparable capacities. It can be a full $10 difference in some cases. However, some gamers might find the exclusive designs and reliability to be worth the extra cost.
Overall, the Seagate Game Drive is a fantastic external hard drive that’s 100% guaranteed to work with your console seamlessly. The green visuals and logo also match, making this drive a true extension of your Xbox One console.
- The green color scheme fits right in with your Xbox One console
- Fast read/write speeds boost up loading times
- Full compatibility with all Xbox One models
- More expensive than comparable drives with the same capacities
WD Black P10 3TB Game Drive
- Capacity: 3 TB (also available in 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB variants)
- Dimensions: 4.6 x 3.15 x 0.58 inches
- Weight: 8.16 ounces
- Speed: 5,400 RPM / 130 MB/s
- Interface: USB 3.0 and 2.0
The P10 Game Drive is the external hard drive from mainstay Western Digital. Known for their quality drives, they’ve come up with a cool and rugged game drive that’s perfect for gamers on the go.
At first glance, the P10 Game Drive is pure eye candy. The edgy contour and black/silver exterior is a joy to look at. It just screams, “cool.” This hard drive is also one of the more durable models we’ve used in a while. The outer casing is rigid, and a few falls or bumps didn’t damage the P10 at all.
Performance-wise, the P10 does exceptionally well. It can have capacities of up to 5TB, although we find the 3TB to be the best value for money in its range. The P10 didn’t overheat one bit, even after a straight 20-hour marathon (a combination of playing and downloading from the Microsoft Store). There was, however, a faint humming noise after a few hours. Personally, we didn’t mind as it wasn’t loud enough to compete with the sounds from the game.
The transfer speed is at 130 MB/s, slightly lower than that of comparable drives like Seagate’s Game Drive. The 10 MB/s difference, fortunately, wasn’t enough to slow down loading times significantly.
As a bonus, the P10 comes with a free two-month subscription of Xbox Game Pass ultimate. With this membership, you can download titles to your heart’s desire and maximize your new P10 drive.
Overall, the WD Black P10 is an exceptional hard drive for your Xbox One. It has excellent aesthetics, form factor, and durability, making it one of the better options for gamers on the go. The 3TB – 5TB size is also more than enough for even the most hardcore of players.
- Rugged and durable enclosure
- Sleek black and metallic design
- Free two-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass
- Can produce a humming sound with prolonged use
- Slightly lower transfer speed
WD Elements 4TB
- Capacity: 4 TB (also available in 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, and 5TB variants)
- Dimensions: 4.4 x 3.2 x 0.59 inches
- Weight: 8.3 ounces
- Speed: 5,400 RPM / 102 MB/s
- Interface: USB 3.0
The WD Elements external hard drive is one of the most popular models available, and for a good reason. It’s a fantastic balance of speed, capacity, and cost, with portability thrown in for good measure.
You’re looking at 4 TB of storage space, a particular sweet spot for most Xbox One users. It’s large enough to store dozens of games, yet doesn’t go overboard that it costs a small fortune. In fact, if you look at the cost per GB of the WD Element, it’s at a low $0.025. That’s a bargain as most hard drives that go for at least $0.03 – $0.04 per GB.
The Elements HDD is slim and slick. Its form factor makes it extremely portable and easy to place anywhere on your shelf. While not as durable as some of the more rugged drives on this list, it can still hold on its own after a few bumps.
You might be inclined to go with the more advanced My Passport HDD, but the only thing it adds are security and backup features, which you don’t need. Sure, if you already have a My Passport HDD, it will work fine. But if you’re buying one just for your Xbox One, the WD Elements is cheaper.
The only caveat with the Elements HDD is the included cable. When our drive suddenly became unresponsive, we thought we had a defective model. We tried a spare cable we had lying around and, voila, it worked again. So our advice is to buy a separate cable and spare yourself the potential hassle.
But overall, the WD Elements is one of the best external hdd for Xbox One you can buy. If you don’t have the time to compare different options, this model is a fantastic pick that you won’t regret.
- Great value for money
- The 4 TB capacity is more than enough for most gamer needs
- Slim and portable
- The included data cable is prone to breaking down easily
Lacie Rugged 5TB
- Capacity: 5 TB (also available in 500 GB, 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB variants)
- Dimensions: 1.02 x 3.39 x 5.32 inches
- Weight: 14.1 ounces
- Interface: USB 3.0, USB-C
If you want the maximum insurance for your precious game data, consider the LaCie 5TB Rugged external hard drive. This sturdy little cookie is the perfect shockproof solution if you move your files around a lot.
The LaCie Rugged is like the Fort Knox of video game data. It has a thick rubber casing that can absorb the force of hard bumps and drops. Throw it around your bag, maybe drop it a few times, and it’s guaranteed to be still working fine. It’s even resistant to water and dust, so it’ll survive a few splashes or spills.
On top of that, this drive comes with a two-year warranty and a complimentary data recovery service in case something happens to the contents of your drive. It will give you total peace of mind, knowing your game data and saved files are safe from physical harm.
Despite its toughness, the LaCie Rugged is a far departure from what most hard drives look. The bright orange rubber casing gives it the illusion of being a toy or kids’ device.
The 5 TB space isn’t a pushover, either. Most gamers wouldn’t be able to fill all that space quickly.
Overall, the LaCie Rugged is your ultimate portable hard drive. It gives total protection to your data when you’re on the go. And even if you just plan to leave it connected to your Xbox One, it’s still a foolproof way to keep your game files safe for years to come.
- Dust and water-resistant
- Extremely portable
- Two-year warranty and data recovery service
- Bulkier form factor
Seagate Desktop 8TB
- Capacity: 8 TB
- Dimensions: 7.06 x 4.65 x 1.63 inches
- Weight: 2.43 lbs
- Speed: 160 MB/s
- Interface: USB 3.0
The Seagate Desktop is the hard drive for Xbox One gamers seeking the ultimate storage solution. The massive 8 TB capacity is more than enough for a lifetime of gaming, allowing you to store over a hundred file size-heavy games. Plus, it can future-proof your capacity needs when upcoming Xbox consoles come rolling out in the years to come.
The Seagate Desktop is also a top-notch performer. The drive has a max speed of 160 MB/s, which is above average of what most external hard drives offer. Playing games off the drive was a seamless experience, and we noticed faster than normal loading times on certain CPU-demanding games. The drive didn’t get too hot even when used continuously.
For its size, the Seagate Desktop is relatively light. You can reasonably haul it around, although it’s best used as a permanent fixture near your Xbox One console, as this drive requires an external power source to run.
The price isn’t so bad, either. The price difference from this and the other lower TB drives in the Seagate range is minimal, making the Seagate Desktop an economical pick.
Overall, the Seagate Desktop drive is the last drive you’ll ever need as an Xbox One user. Plug it in and forget about it as you enjoy downloading dozens of games without worrying about storage ever again.
- Economical option in terms of cost per GB
- Massive 8 TB capacity for all your gaming needs
- Surprisingly light
- Cool operation
- Not as durable when dropped or bumped
Fantom Drive FD 8TB
- Capacity: 8 TB
- Dimensions: 4.75 x 1.75 x 4.75 inches
- Weight: 2.50 lbs
- Speed: 7,200 RPM
- Interface: USB 3.0
The Fantom Drive FD 8TB are hardcore external hard drives for your gaming needs. The vast 8 TB capacity is paired with fast transfer speeds, giving a massive boost to your Xbox One’s performance.
The FD has rotation speeds of 7,200 RPM, which makes it up to 33% faster than the typical 5,400 RPM hard drive. That means you’ll see anywhere from a 25% – 30% increase in load and file copying times. This particular option is probably the fasted external hard drive for xbox one.
The hard drive features a hard aluminum casing that gives the Fantom Drive a durable outer shell. Not only that, but aluminum also dissipates heat efficiently. Together with a mesh grill design, this allows the hard drive to keep itself cool naturally without the need for fans.
The FD goes the entire capacity range from 500GB all the way to 16TB. For the Xbox One, 8 TB is about the maximum you can get, so we recommend getting that one.
If you’re a serious gamer with an Xbox One X and a huge library, the Fantom Drive FD 8TB is the last external HDD you’ll ever need. This is for you if you’re looking beyond storage and want to play games directly from the drive.
- Fast 7,200 RPM hard drive speed
- Huge 8 TB capacity
- Cools efficiently
- Higher price tag
Seagate Game Drive Hub
- Capacity: 8 TB
- Dimensions: 4.65 x 1.61 x 7.8 inches
- Weight: 1.96 lbs
- Interface: USB 3.0
The Seagate Game Drive Hub is another excellent official Xbox hard drive from a trusted manufacturer. This edition takes storage to the extreme with a full 8 TB of space, maximizing your game capacity.
The Game Hub was designed to blend well with your Xbox One more than any other drive. The white color of the Hub would be a perfect fit with your console, especially if you’ve got the Xbox One S white model.
But what drives integration home are the two USB 3.0 ports on the Hub. These act as extensions of your Xbox One’s native USB ports. The problem with other drives is that when they’re connected, you have one less port to use for other devices. With the Hub, you can connect and charge two controllers plus other accessories, even though your Hub drive is occupying one port in your console. In fact, it also gives you one additional port to work with.
The Hub is speedy and reliable, as can be expected with an officially recognized Xbox drive. It does a fantastic job of ramping up load times of almost every game we loaded from the drive. Copying loads of game files was a cinch, as well.
Overall, the Seagate Game Drive Hub is as close to an internal hard drive for the Xbox One as you could get. The front USB ports, fast transfer speed, and color motif make it a true extension of your console.
- Front USB 3.0 ports
- Lightning-fast transfer and load speeds
- 8 TB space
- Same white color motif as the Xbox One console
- Can be noisy when copying or downloading games
G-Technology G-Drive 2TB
- Capacity: 2 TB
- Dimensions: 4.37 x 3.23 x 0.41 inches
- Weight: 4.94 ounces
- Interface: USB 3.0
The G-Drive is a good value for money external hard drive for your Xbox One. It features a decent cost per GB, quick transfer speeds, and reliable operation.
The first thing we like about the G-Drive is that it’s very stylish. The full metallic body gives it a very edgy and classy look. The form factor isn’t so bad either, making this drive exceptionally portable. The aluminum material gives it decent durability, and ours survived a few drops or bumps here and there.
The drive itself boasts quick transfer speeds of 130 MB/s. Don’t expect load times to improve drastically, but they shouldn’t slow it down either, so that’s a plus. With that being said, you’re better off using this as a storage for your files, rather than as a drive to load games from. You can certainly do that, but there are faster drives on this list for that purpose.
Reputation wise, G-Drives are known for being reliable as one of the drives that Apple recommends with their Macs. From experience, they’re pretty solid overall and have a good track record, based on other people’s experience. You do get some who say it corrupts easily, but you do get that with other brands as well.
Overall, the G-Drive 2TB is an excellent alternative to mainstream brands like Seagate or Western Digital. It’s easy to carry around, has a generous capacity, and is quite durable. The value for money is fantastic as well.
- Good value for money
- Decent transfer speed
- Included cable loosens easily
Novus Rugged 6TB Hard Drive
- Capacity: 6 TB (also available in 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 8TB, and 10TB variants)
- Dimensions: 7.75 x 4.5 x 1.7 inches
- Weight: 3.53 pounds
- Interface: USB 3.0
The Novus Rugged Hard Drive is another shockproof and durable gaming hard drive. It features a green silicon casing that’s wrapped around the edges of the device. The aesthetic is pure black without the green housing, which matches the motif of the Xbox One well.
As for the green casing, it does a fantastic job of absorbing the shock from drops, effectively protecting your game files inside the Novus. Plus, the color is the same iconic “Xbox” green.
The size of the Novus is unsurprisingly large and heavy, given its capacity. It can be a pain to haul around, but it’s a good trade-off for the added protection, in our opinion. It does require an external power source to run, which can be a hassle and brings down some portability points from this drive.
Nevertheless, the Novus performs exceedingly well. Capacity is massive, transfer speeds are quick, and the drive is pretty reliable. Personally, we use this drive as a more permanent fixture near our console, with its shockproof feature more of as an insurance policy.
But overall, the Novus Rugged Hard Drive is a good pick if you’re looking for a durable storage drive for your Xbox One.
- Shockproof exterior
- Generous 8TB space
- Fast transfer speeds
- Large and heavy which affects portability
Samsung T5 Portable 2TB SSD
- Capacity: 2 TB (also available in 500GB and 1TB variants)
- Dimensions: 2.3 x 0.40 x 3.0 inches
- Weight: 1.6 ounces
- Transfer Speeds: 540 MB/s
- Interface: USB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A
The Samsung T5 Portable is potentially the best external SSD for Xbox One. It’s the perfect marriage of speed, portability, and durability.
The T5 comes in various sizes, but we like the freedom the 2TB model gives you, providing more than enough capacity to store your most epic, demanding games.
Like any SSD, it boasts transfer speeds that are 5x more than that of even the top of the line HDD. We compared loading one game from the T5 and it easily blew even the Xbox One’s internal storage right out of the water.
The T5 comes in various colors so you have a bit of freedom there. It is portable and slimmer than any external hard drive you’re used to. You can easily fit it in the palm of your hand. It’s also shockproof, able to survive a 2-meter drop.
This SSD also comes with a data management software and password protection built-in, but these are unusable with the Xbox One
Overall, the Samsung T5 is what you’ve come to expect with a solid state drive. It has one of the more generous capacities in the market to date, a durable casing, and ultra fast transfer speeds.
- Shockproof exterior
- Fast transfer speeds of 540 MB/s
- Super slim and portable
- Comes in various colors
- Costs 2-3X versus a normal HDD
Seagate Barracuda 500GB SSD
- Capacity: 500GB (also available in 1TB and 2TB variants)
- Dimensions: 0.36 x 3.11 x 3.68 inches
- Weight: 6.7 ounces
- Transfer Speeds: 540 MB/s
- Interface: USB 3.0, USB-C, USB-A
Seagate’s Barracuda is a fantastic option if you want to experience the power of an external Xbox One SSD without breaking the bank. With a 500GB capacity at less than $100, it’s perfect for storing and loading select games on a lightning-fast storage medium.
The Barracuda gives all the usual benefits of an SSD drive. It has a fast transfer speed of 540 MB/s that can outdo every HDD you challenge it with. It’s reasonably slim and durable as well, so you can easily carry it with you anywhere you go.
Visually, we love the metallic black exterior and the green LED underlight, which gives it a cool futuristic look. It’s not as durable as the Samsung T5, but as with any SSD, it can survive more abuse than a comparable HDD.
We personally use the Barracuda as our extended hard drive, where we load processor-hungry games that take forever to load. The Xbox One exploits the fast 540 MB/s transfer speed pretty well, loading games up to 2 – 3X faster than when booted from the internal drive.
Overall, if you’re on a budget and want a fast SSD drive with modest capacity, the Seagate Barracuda is your ticket.
- Fast 540 MB/s transfer speeds
- Slim minimalistic form factor
- Affordable price for an SSD
- More expensive per GB at higher capacities
All of the above products are for the previous generation of the Xbox console. If you’re looking for the latest version, check out our guide to the Best Xbox Series X Expansion Cards.
How to Use An External Hard Drive with Xbox One
Fortunately, external hard drives are fully supported by the Xbox One system. It’s just a matter of plugging it into a free USB slot in the console, and the Xbox One OS will automatically detect it if it’s compatible.
If your hard drive is brand new or if you’ve used it with your desktop or laptop before, your Xbox One will need to format it first. This will completely wipe out the contents of the drive and make it compatible only with an Xbox console. Make sure to back up any old data, if you have any, before doing this.
Once formatted, you can make the external HDD your default drive by selecting the “Install New Things Here” option. Now all future game downloads will be to this drive.
Transferring games from the Xbox One to the external HDD is straightforward as well. Go to your Systems tab then pick Storage. Navigate to the internal drive that contains the game files you want to copy, then choose Transfer. You’ll get to pick the files you want to transfer and the destination drive. Finally, select Move to start the process.
Benefits of an External HDD for Xbox One
They Allow You to Store More Games
One of the primary considerations most people have when buying an external hard drive is to be able to download more games. After a while, you’re going to realize that the 500 GB internal hard drive space of the Xbox One isn’t going to last you very long.
With incredible graphics and long play times, today’s games are also getting pretty hefty when it comes to filesize. A typical A-list game today will eat up around 30 – 40 GB of space on average, with the absolute epic ones going upwards of 100 GB or more. This doesn’t even count the many DLCs and updates that most modern games receive over their lifetime.
Even if you’re exclusively buying game discs and not downloading via the Microsoft Store, your Xbox One still needs to rip game files from the disc to the console. That takes up a few dozen GBs.
Erasing a game to free up space isn’t a great solution, either. Even on a blazingly fast Internet connection, a 100+ GB game takes ages to download. If you decide you want to play that game again in the future, then you’ll waste time downloading it again.
An external hard drive solves this problem by allowing you to expand your space by a few TBs, effectively increasing your Xbox storage by up to 10x. A 1 TB extension can store an average of 20+ game titles on the cheap.
Helps Maximize the Xbox One Game Pass
If you’re subscribed to Xbox Game Pass or planning to, you’ll know it’s an incredible deal. For a few dollars a month, you’ll get unlimited access to the newest game titles and Xbox One exclusives. The best part is that you can play most of these games offline.
Of course, this requires that you download the game first, which takes up the same space as the full game. With over 300+ games available at your disposal, you’ll quickly find your Xbox One’s hard drive space getting overwhelmed.
The key to maximizing your Xbox Game Pass is to download as many games as possible. The only way you can do that is by expanding your Xbox One’s storage space with an external hard drive.
Essential for 4K Gaming
The Xbox One X is one of the must-have upgrades for serious gamers. Aside from faster loading times, the support for 4K resolutions means much more incredible graphics and detail.
Unfortunately, these enhanced games also have massive file sizes. The relatively small 1 TB internal storage of the Xbox One X isn’t helping, either.
Here’s where an external hard drive is essential. Even getting a modest 2 TB external HDD is more than enough to store a few dozen 4K games in your library.
You Can Transfer Game Files from One Console to Another
One problem you’ll face if you download games exclusively is when you want to transfer to another console. Maybe you want to bring some games over to a friend’s house and play them on their Xbox One. Or, if you’re upgrading to an Xbox One S or X, you want a quick way to transfer your game files over to the new console.
Downloading is the default method, but that could take up a ridiculous amount of time and bandwidth, especially if you have a data cap with your Internet plan. And, frankly, it’s wasted time, seeing that you’ve already downloaded the game in the first place.
The smart way is to use an external hard drive. Fortunately, Xbox One makes it easy to transfer files from your console to the hard drive. You simply plug the hard drive over to the new console, then copy the files there. There’s no need to waste days re-downloading.
It’s Way Easier Than Replacing Your Xbox One’s Internal HDD
One way of expanding your Xbox One’s 500GB capacity is by replacing the internal hard drive.
Unfortunately, the process isn’t as smooth as with other consoles like the PS4. You’ll need to get dirty and worry about a few things like dumping the OS in the new drive and doing a proper partition. If you’re a casual, non-technically inclined gamer, it might be a struggle. Besides, replacing the internal hard drive yourself is an “unofficial” move that will void your warranty.
The easy solution is just to plug in an external hard drive. Yes, a USB-connected hard drive isn’t as elegant as an internal SATA drive, but the convenience and cost factors more than make up for this minor issue.
Plus, it’s recommended that you only stick with the Xbox One’s approved sizes for its internal hard drive. That means you can only go up to a maximum of 2 TB. Contrast that with external HDDs going up to 8 TB (and possibly more in the future), and you have a winner in terms of capacity.
It Protects Your Data
An external hard drive allows you to backup your game and save data to a safe location. One big worry for gamers like me is what would happen to all our data in the event our Xbox One breaks down.
The console is easily replaceable – a quick 20-minute trip to your local Best Buy, and you’re up and running again. But re-downloading your entire 50+ game library and precious save files? That could take days.
Now, if you had the foresight of backing your data in your external hard drive, then all you need to do is plug it into the new console. A few minutes later, and you should be playing again as if nothing happened.
It Can Load Games Faster
Contrary to what most people think, an external hard drive can load games faster than the Xbox One’s internal hard drive, especially with the older first-gen models. At the very least, external HDD’s will be just as fast as the newer SATA III drives of the Xbox One X.
The reason it’s faster is because the external hard drive’s USB 3.0 interface is faster than the SATA II connection of the internal drive. What’s more, the external HDD doesn’t have to deal with running the Xbox OS and various other apps. Because it’s not bogged down, an external hard drive can access and load games much faster.
You can boost loading times even further with external solid-state drives (SDD). These can access files lightning quick, but at a significantly higher cost and with less storage space compared to traditional hard drives.
External Hard Drive Requirements for Xbox One
Xbox One supports a wide variety of hard drive models, provided they stick with a few requirements:
USB 3.0 Connection
First, the drive needs to use a USB 3.0 connection. This enables the external HDD to handle the large data bandwidth the Xbox One requires. Most modern models should be able to support this, so it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
The only time when you need to be wary of this requirement is if you’re using an older drive with USB 2.0. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this – simply buy a USB 3.0 enclosure. It’s definitely cheaper than buying a new drive.
Minimum Storage Space of 256 GB
Next, the external HDD needs to have a storage space of at least 256 GB. You shouldn’t worry about this too much, though, if you follow our recommended picks in this review as we only cover drives with at least 1 TB of space to make it worth your while.
Maximum Storage Space of 16 TB (2 x 8TB Only)
Finally, the Xbox One currently supports hard drives with up to 8 TB of storage space (or 16 TB with two 8 TB drives hooked onto the console’s two ports). The good news is that you most likely won’t need space this large. 8 TB of storage is more than enough to store hundreds of games, so it should be a good fit for even the most hardcore gamers.
What to Look For: A Buyer’s Guide
Now that we’ve covered the minimum requirements for your Xbox One external hard drive, here are some other things we recommend you consider to maximize your purchase.
The most important consideration when picking an external hard drive is the storage space. However, don’t make the mistake of just going with the largest capacity possible, unless you have money to burn.
First, you need to evaluate your gaming habits. Do you regularly play and download dozens of games? Or do you play epic games with enormous file sizes (100+ GB) to boot? Then you might need a 4 TB or even 8 TB drive.
However, if you’re just a casual gamer who just wants to keep a few select games on hand, then 4 TB might be overkill. 1 TB should be more than enough.
SSD vs. HDD
When you’re out buying an external drive, you’ll come across one of two types: hard disk drives (HDD) or solid state drives (SSD).
Hard disk drives are the “traditional” kind of storage drive. They’re made up of a spinning magnetic platter that stores the data on its surface. How fast the disk is spinning determines the HDD’s transfer speed. Solid state drives (SSD), on the other hand, are made using flash memory and feature no moving parts.
The main advantage of SSD is speed. They can transfer files and data way faster than an HDD could, which makes them load your games incredibly fast. They’re also exceptionally durable and noise-free, since they don’t have any moving parts.
However, SSDs are more expensive. They’re also much more limited in size, with most SSDs only having a capacity of 2TB.
Whichever one you pick between the two will depend on your preference. If you want games to load lightning fast and you’re not storing a lot of them, an SSD is perfect. However, if you’re looking for cost-conscious way to store dozens of your game titles, HDDs are still king.
Portable vs. Desktop Drives
Hard drives come in two form factors: portable and full-sized desktop drives.
Portable drives are what you’ll often see and use when you think of external hard drives. They’re smaller and cheaper models that are meant to be carried around. They’re also conveniently USB-powered; they don’t need an electrical cord to run.
Full-sized desktop drives, on the other hand, are heftier and larger than their portable cousins. They’re far more powerful and feature larger capacities. However, all that power means they also need to be plugged into an outlet to work. Full-sized drives are designed to be semi-permanently put in place.
When choosing an external HDD for your Xbox One, portable trumps full-sized if you’re aiming for a capacity of 4 TB or less. At those sizes, portable drives will be less expensive than desktops at the same TB. Portable drives are also much easier to carry around and generate less noise overall.
However, the tables are flipped if you’re eyeing for a drive with a size of 4 TB or above. At those capacities, portable hard drives become much more expensive and rare. That’s why we recommend getting a full-sized desktop drive for anything above 4 TB, as it’s cheaper.
Transfer speed refers to how fast data can be accessed by the console from a hard drive. It encompasses the time it takes to read/write files from the disk and transfer it to the Xbox One console.
Transfer speed is measured in MB/s. This tells you how many megabytes of data the drive can transfer per second in ideal conditions, which is a pretty intuitive way to measure it.
Ideal MB/s speeds for Xbox One usage should be within 100 MB/s to 130 MB/s, with 160 MB/s being an excellent figure to shoot for if you load games directly from the drive.
It’s important to note that the advertised speed by most manufacturers is only the ideal figure. In practice, speed is affected by several factors. A hard drive nearing full capacity, for example, will have slower transfer speeds on average.
The two most significant factors that influence transfer speed the most are drive speed and connection type. Since you’ll almost always be using only USB 3.0 as your connection with Xbox One, the differentiating factor here would be the drive’s speed.
Drive speed is measured in RPM or revolutions per minute. It describes the rotational speed of the hard drive, and therefore how fast it can read or write files. Higher RPMs allow your Xbox One to access data more quickly, drastically improving load times and reducing copying time.
The absolute minimum RPM you should gun for is 5,400 RPM. This is the same speed the native hard drive of the Xbox One runs at, so you should match that.
If you want a substantial speed boost, then go for the 7,200 RPM models. The difference can be noticeable. 7.200 RPM models offer a 25% – 33% increase in speed, depending on the brand, cutting down your load times. However, they can cost significantly more.
The number one trait of hard drives is reliability, especially if you move your Xbox hard drive around. You don’t want all of your precious game and save files from being wiped out just because you bumped or dropped your hard drive.
Hard drives have a lot of delicate moving parts, so make sure the outer enclosure keeps them well protected. Some portable hard drives feature shock-absorbent casings, so look into these features if you want a more durable device.
You should also take a look at the hard drive’s failure rate, which describes how long it will last before normal wear and tear breaks it down. On average, they can last anywhere from 12 months to up to 7 years. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to know failure rates aside from looking at other people’s experiences and the manufacturer’s reputation.
Most advanced external hard drives offer more features beyond capacity. For example, some drives have an automatic backup or encryption feature. When you’re using it with your home or office data, then the added price justifies these features.
However, all of these are useless with an Xbox One, as none of them are compatible with the console. All it ever cares about is the drive’s capacity. So it’s a no-brainer to pick the cheaper 4 TB hard drive over the more expensive one that has extra bells and whistles.
As with any consumer device, most reputable hard drives are backed with a warranty (often 1-2 years). Warranties are arguably much more crucial with hard drives because reliability is a critical factor for buying one. Having a two-year warranty is like a guarantee that it will be problem-free for that period.
Some hard drives also have data recovery plans on top of the warranty. These can be useful for retrieving your data should the drive fail.
It’s easy to buy the first 4 TB hard drive you find, and for some who are in a hurry, it’s perfectly fine. However, if you want to maximize your savings, you should compare hard drive prices on a per-gigabyte basis.
The problem with this is that price per gigabyte is not uniform across the board for all hard drive manufacturers. You would expect that the price per GB should decrease as the capacities increase, and some brands follow this trend. However, there are some models which cost more per gigabyte as you add in storage capacity. The result is some 2TB models cost more per GB than a 1TB drive of another manufacturer.
The good news is that comparing prices is easier when it comes to buying an Xbox One hard drive. That’s because you’re only looking at one factor – capacity.