Is the Xbox Series X/S compatible with an external HDD?

Updated: Dec 28, 2020



Call of Duty Black Ops takes close to 190 GB of memory when you install it on your Xbox. There is no reason to believe it will be the only game to take up so much memory in the future. In fact, Gears of War 4 also needs around 100 GB of memory, and the average game released today uses 40 to 50 GB.


The Xbox Series X has an internal memory of 1 Terabyte, of which some 800 GB are actually usable. The Series S has half the memory, with a 500 GB total and some 360 usable. If you want to install more than 5 games on the Series S, you are going to need some more memory.


What´s the most common way to increase the memory of a device, like a gaming console or PC? Simple, buy an external Hard Drive. These little devices can add to the storage capacity of the device you choose by terabytes at a time. They can even increase the loading speed of games installed unto them, or do the opposite if they are not of good quality.


So, can you still use an external HDD to increase the memory of your next-gen Xbox?


Do External Hard Drives work with the Xbox Series X and Series S?


Yes, you can connect External Hard Drives to your Xbox Series X/S. That said, they are only good for storing next-generation games, not playing them. You can´t install any Series X/S titles on the devices, because they will not work while they are on the external drive.

This is not the case with older generation games. You can install Xbox 360 and Xbox One titles to the external drive and they will work like a charm on your Series X/S. You will not need to transfer them nor do anything else to be able to enjoy them.


If you are only interested in buying newer titles, then an HDD might seem useless, but that´s not quite the case. If there is enough space on the internal SSD of the console, there is the option to "transfer" the game from the external drive and install it into the Xbox proper.


This way, you can use the HDD as a backup of sorts, and rotate the games that you have installed on your Xbox with the ones saved in the drive as you need. Now, you might be thinking that this sounds like a hassle. Is there no other way?


Is there any external memory that lets you install and play games on your Xbox Series X and S?


There aren´t any hard drives available for the Xbox Series X/S that will let you install and play their games, however, there is something similar. If you been playing since the Playstation or Nintendo 64 era, you might remember something called a memory card. Well, the Xbox Series X/S has something similar, the Seagate Expansion Card.

Seagate made this card specifically for the new Xbox. It gives you one extra TB of memory and, unlike an HDD, you can actually install and play Series X games on the card itself. No need to transfer back and forth.


How do you use it? It is quite simple. Plug the card in the specially made port on your Xbox and enjoy the extra space. The "storage expansion" port is next to the HDMI one, so you will be able to easily find it.


The drawback (aside from the price and relatively limited storage space) is that it will only work with your Xbox Series X/S, you can´t use this card as a makeshift HDD for your PC or for any other gaming console. Not even previous generations of Xbox are compatible.


One of the main selling points of this card (besides being the only one available for the console) is speed. When you play a game installed on the Expansion Card, you will experience the same (if not lower) load times that you would have if you installed the game on the Xbox´s internal memory.


In summary...


And that´s it for the moment. In the future, it is very likely that more cards will appear on the market. For now, the Seagate Expansion Card is the only device that lets you increase the storage in your Xbox while still being able to install games on it.


You can use an external HDD on your Xbox, but you will not be able to install the latest releases on it. You would have to rotate and transfer the titles between your internal and external memory.


If you want to know more about the Series X/S compatibility with other accessories, check out our article where we tell you if the newest Xbox controller is backward compatible. Or this other one where we analyze if your old driving wheel or joystick works in this new generation of gaming.


Finally, if you want to buy a memory drive for a Playstation, be careful. Read our article to know what will work with the PS5.