Can the Xbox Series X use an external hard drive?

Can you offload Xbox Series X games onto an external hard drive?

Can the Xbox Series X use an external hard drive? Image shows an Xbox Series X and a pink hard drive on a purple gradient background.

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Despite its 800GB of available storage space, gamers with a bigger gaming library might still find themselves asking if the Xbox Series X can use an external hard drive. The Xbox Series X has introduced significant changes to system storage, utilizing custom solid-state drives (SSDs) to deliver shorter load times and support complex game worlds. However, with AAA titles becoming even more demanding and storage-heavy, even with its internal storage capacity, storage expansion solutions are a necessity for many Xbox Series X gamers. So, here we’ll explore some of the options available for expanding the storage of your Xbox Series through the use of an external hard drive.

Can the Xbox Series X use an external hard drive?

Put simply, yes, the Xbox Series X supports the use of an external hard drive. However, similarly to using an external hard drive on another console, such as the PS5, while you can store games and game data on your external hard drive, you won’t be able to launch them from there. In order to run the game, you will have to install it back onto the native SSD storage.

Expansion options for Xbox Series X

When it comes to expanding the storage of your Xbox Series X, you have two primary options available to you: expansion cards and USB external hard drives. Both solutions allow you to play and store your Xbox games, but naturally, there are some key differences to consider.

Expansion cards

The Xbox Seagate Storage Expansion Card is the recommended storage option for most users. This compact memory card-style SSD is designed to extend your Xbox console’s storage seamlessly. It offers performance on par with the internal SSD and allows you to run native games directly from the card. While it’s more expensive than some USB external hard drives, it provides a hassle-free experience and supports all Xbox games.

USB external hard drives

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, USB external drives offer a competitive solution. These drives are widely available from various manufacturers and come in a range of capacities and price points. While they may not match the performance of the Seagate Expansion Card, they are still a reliable choice for extra storage.

Deciding between expansion cards and USB hard drives

The decision between expansion cards and USB drives ultimately depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. If you prioritize seamless integration, performance, and the ability to run all Xbox Series X games, the Seagate Expansion Card might be the best choice.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more affordable option and don’t mind transferring games to the internal SSD when you want to play them, a USB external drive is a viable solution. However, it’s also important to read into how to free up space on your Xbox first.

Xbox Series X external hard drive options

Here are some recommendations for the best external drives for Xbox Series X:

  • Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable External Hard Drive – This affordable 1TB hard drive offers reliable storage for Xbox One games and backwards-compatible titles. It is an ideal choice for offloading your Xbox Series X games to free up on-device space.
  • WD Elements Portable External Hard Drive – With a huge capacity of 4TB, this Western Digital drive provides ample room for your game library. It offers fast transfer speeds and is of course compatible with Xbox Series X.
  • Samsung T7 Portable SSD – If you prefer the speed and performance of an SSD, this Samsung T7 drive is a great option. With capacities up to 2TB, it offers faster read and write speeds compared to traditional hard drives.
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Best external hard drive brands

As with investing in any expensive piece of tech, going with a reputable brand can reassure you that you’re going to get the quality that you’re after, as well as a positive customer service experience if things go wrong. For external hard drives, some of the most trusted brands include WD Black, SanDisk, and Samsung. All three offer a variety of gaming hard drives that will be compatible with your Xbox Series X.


Expanding the storage of your Xbox Series X is essential to accommodate the growing size of modern gaming titles. Whether you choose an expansion card or a USB external hard drive, both options offer additional storage capacity for your gaming needs, allowing you to offload your Xbox games and free up internal storage. While the Seagate Expansion Card provides seamless integration and high performance, USB hard drives offer more affordability and compatibility with backward-compatible titles.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.