How to use an external drive to expand Xbox Series X and Series S storage

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With unique solid-state drives (SSDs) beneath the hood, the Xbox Series X and Series S make major modifications to system storage. This high-speed storage has been positioned by Microsoft as critical to next-generation gaming, helping to enable faster load times and support for complex game worlds. This SSD requirement ensures the optimum performance from the latest Xbox systems, but it can make storage expansions more difficult. When it comes to increasing space to your Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S versus Xbox One, you now have a few alternatives, and it’s important to know which one is ideal for you.

Storage expansion for Xbox Series X and Series S: The Basics

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S both have the same SSD storage, allowing for up to 40 times faster performance than previous Xbox One consoles. Microsoft chose a unique solution based on NVMe SSD technology, which give best-in-class read and write speeds, albeit at a higher cost than the Xbox One’s slower hard drives.

The Xbox Series X comes with a 1TB internal SSD drive, whereas the Xbox Series S comes with a smaller 512GB storage. In truth, the Xbox Series X has just 802GB of game storage, while the Xbox Series S has only 364GB. With new releases from titles like Call of Duty, Halo, and NBA 2K now exceeding 100GB, outgrowing the provided storage is easier than ever.

When your game library fills up the internal drive on your Xbox Series X or Series S, Microsoft offers two options for expanding your capacity. Both storage extensions are good for playing and storing Xbox games, but which one is ideal depends on the user and the games they want to play.

  • The Xbox Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S is the greatest storage solution for most people, designed to give your Xbox console a seamless extension. In terms of performance and functionality, it’s a little memory card-style SSD that’s nearly equivalent to the internal SSD. While it is more expensive than competitors, it is simple to use and works with all Xbox games.
  • You can also use a USB external drive, with a wide choice of third-party solutions available at reasonable costs. External hard drives, like Xbox One consoles, are still quite affordable and have simple plug-and-play support. USB drives, on the other hand, have limits and do not support all next-gen Xbox titles.

In summary, the growing list of Xbox Series X and Series S Optimized titles need high-speed storage, which can only be provided by Microsoft’s proprietary SSDs. The official Xbox Storage Expansion Card is the only seamless upgrade beyond the inbuilt SSD offered with Xbox Series X and Series S.

Media typeInternal SSDSeagate Expansion CardUSB external drive
Xbox Series X/S gamesStorage only
Xbox One games (upgraded)Storage only
Xbox One games (not upgraded)
Xbox 360 games
Original Xbox games

While USB hard drives are excellent for storing games, you will need to transfer them to the SSD in order to play them. Backward-compatible games, such as those for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox, function properly on USB drives. Here’s a quick comparison of USB drives versus SSD expansion cards.

With top titles larger than ever, the issues of storage space on Xbox Series X and Series S are only becoming worse. The biggest blockbusters necessitate more storage, and the enhanced capabilities of the latest consoles are unlikely to change this trend. While Microsoft claims that Xbox Series S games are occasionally smaller than Xbox Series X games, neither device has a lot of capacity.

Xbox Series X|S Seagate Storage Expansion Card

Games built for the Xbox Series X and Series S demand the full bandwidth of their unique SSD technology, as the consoles are focused on delivering next-gen experiences. Because traditional USB external hard drives fall short, Microsoft and Seagate collaborated to create a special “Storage Expansion Card.” In a nutshell, it’s a proprietary, high-speed SSD that’s guaranteed to meet the Xbox Series X and Series S‘s performance requirements.

With three sizes available in 2022, the Xbox Expansion Card makes it simple. Seagate Storage Expansion Cards come in 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities, with prices commensurate with their capabilities. While Microsoft has explored storage from other manufacturers, we have yet to see those come to fruition due to Seagate’s ongoing exclusivity period.

While it’s undoubtedly a high-end device, it’s due to the cutting-edge hardware within, which is in line with our previous forecasts based on current PCIe 4.0 SSD prices. Although more expensive than slower USB drives, the card ensures the finest in internal and external storage.

Seagate Expansion Card for Xbox Series X, Series S: Price and Dimensions

The Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S is designed to provide the greatest possible gaming experience, matching Microsoft’s built-in solution exactly. The cards offer top-of-the-line technology without sacrificing convenience, but you’ll have to pay for it.

As expected, the Xbox Storage Expansion Card is more expensive than a standard hard drive. The entry-level 512GB model costs $139.99, while the 1TB and 2TB models cost $219.99 and $399.99, respectively.

Xbox Series X|S USB external hard drives

Choosing an external USB drive over an Xbox Expansion Card opens up a competitive market of third-party products. On paper, they’re inferior to Microsoft’s sleek SSDs, but they’re significantly less expensive and still lighten the load on your internal storage.

With Xbox Series X and Series S, you can play Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games on an external USB hard drive. It also runs on USB storage if previous-generation software does not receive Xbox Series-specific improvements.

However, due to sluggish transfer speeds, Xbox Series X and Series S games will not run on external hard drives, failing to fulfill next-generation expectations. For upcoming releases or previous games that have been updated for the newest generation, an internal SSD or an external expansion card is necessary.

However, given the SSD expansion card’s expensive price, it’s worth noting that all Xbox Series X and Series S games can be saved to an external USB hard drive. While some games may not be playable on slower storage, you can still move data between an SSD where your games may be played and a USB for storage. The transfer speeds of your USB hard drive will dictate how quickly they go back and forth, but it’s a cost-effective way to cycle games from the internal SSD.

External hard disks for Xbox Series X and Series S

If the SSD Expansion Card isn’t for you, a thriving ecosystem of USB-connected hard drives will suffice for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox game demands. These storage solutions are all compatible with the Xbox Series X and Series S today, allowing you to expand the capacity of your console without breaking the bank.

With Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft supports practically all Xbox One accessories, extending the existing storage ecosystem. If you want to reuse an existing external hard drive from the Xbox One era, this ensures partial compatibility.

If you’re seeking to buy, the top Xbox Series X hard drives start as low as a video game and provide durable storage for less than $50. On some consoles, such as the Xbox Series S, a 1TB expansion can more than triple your storage space. Since its inception, we’ve recommended the Toshiba Canvio Basics as the best-priced 1TB drive, allowing you to get more megabytes for your money.

With this 4TB behemoth from Western Digital, you can go big or go home, with enough space for your entire game collection for the average user. It has four times the internal storage of the Xbox Series X, making it an important purchase today and all you’ll need as a next-generation sidekick. While SSDs are prohibitively expensive in this sizes, slower hard disks are still inexpensive. This is a good option for people who have a large game library or want to try out services like Xbox Game Pass.

Choosing an SSD over a regular hard drive will improve read and write speeds, reducing load times in your favorite Xbox One games. While even the greatest external SSDs for Xbox Series X and Series S can’t equal the performance of the Expansion Card, which is currently unavailable in next-gen games, that increase is still useful for backward compatibility and quick transfers to your internal drive.

Which is better: a Seagate Expansion Card or a USB?

When your Xbox Series X or Series S runs out of capacity, you’ll have to decide whether to get the official Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox or not. This external SSD provides a seamless solution at a high price, with fast storage essential to titles built for the future generation. The price may put some people off, but it matches the reality of the hardware, allowing you to get the most out of either platform.

While Microsoft’s Storage Expansion Card was first limited to a single 1TB Seagate model, other sizes are now available at a variety of price points. The entry-level 512GB model now costs $140, but those with larger game collections can spend far more on the 1TB and 2TB models.

Although USB external drives offer more megabytes for dollar, the functionality provided by genuine Xbox Expansion Cards helps justify the price. It’s a big commitment, but with years of Xbox Series X and Series S titles on the way, it’ll be a great companion for the next console generation. It provides the most seamless expansion of the console’s internal SSD, eliminating the hassle of constantly switching games between drives.

When seeking for a low-cost alternative, a USB external hard drive may be a better option, especially in the short term. Even if the limits mean you can’t play without relocating them to your internal SSD, connecting USB drives is a convenient way to save your games. It helps you avoid redownloading titles if you’re willing to cycle them back and forth.

How to connect external drives to your Xbox

Xbox Expansion Card Notification

It’s time to set up and use your selected storage option with your Xbox console after you’ve chosen it. While the Expansion Card and USB drives are approached differently, they are both extremely simple to attach and configure in a matter of seconds. You won’t need to do much after plugging the drives into their respective ports thanks to the simple plug-and-play support.

What is the Xbox Seagate SSD Expansion Card and how do I use it?

A special, proprietary connector on the back of the Xbox Series X and Series S connects the Seagate Storage Expansion Card to the console. On both consoles, a rectangular port labeled “STORAGE EXPANSION” stands next to the HDMI output. They’re only slightly larger than a standard USB thumb drive, and they’re protected by a sliding plastic cover. The SSD slips into the port after removing the provided cover, slightly protruding from the back I/O panel.

External SSD cards can also be installed with the console turned on, allowing users with several expansion cards to swap them out on the fly. The Xbox Series X or Series S will automatically recognize and configure your external storage once it is inserted.

  1. Remove the protective cover from the Xbox Storage Expansion Card that came with it.
  2. In the Storage Expansion port, insert the Expansion Card.
  3. Firmly push the Expansion Card until a distinct click can be heard. With an on-screen message, your Xbox console will automatically discover and configure the Xbox Storage Expansion Card.

The Xbox Storage Expansion Card will add its corresponding capacity to your pool of available Xbox storage once it has been setup to work with your Xbox Series X or Series S console. A tiny amount of storage will be set aside for the system. The 1TB Storage Expansion Card, for example, provides 920GB in total, with about 100GB locked down right out of the box. You can transfer, move, and install content between the internal SSD and the external Storage Expansion Card after you’ve completed the setup.

How to connect a USB external drive to an Xbox Series X or Series S console.

Most recent external hard drives are compatible with Xbox Series X and Series S consoles, allowing you to expand your game storage while simultaneously benefiting from faster load times thanks to compatible SSDs. To meet the criteria, you’ll need a USB 3.0 external drive with strong data transfer rates for running backward-compatible games over a USB connection. Compatible drives must also have at least 256GB of capacity, though we recommend purchasing at least 1TB for peace of mind in the future. If you’ve recently upgraded your Xbox console, keep in mind that the top Xbox One hard drives and SSDs are also compatible with new Xbox consoles.

  1. Connect your external drive to your computer using the proper USB cord.
  2. Connect the USB cord to the Xbox console’s USB port. With an on-screen message, your Xbox system will automatically discover and configure the external drive.
  3. If requested, format the hard drive to store games.

Because the Xbox Series X and Series S have USB-A connections, it’s necessary to double-check that an external hard drive is connected to the console with the correct connector. This is especially true for newer SSDs, which are increasingly adopting USB-C interfaces to achieve the fastest possible transfer speeds. The two consoles have two USB-A ports on the back, which are perfect for hiding external hard drives and freeing up the front port.

You’ll also need to give your console permission to format the disk, which will erase all data onboard. To avoid losing existing documents and data, it’s critical to back up ALL saved files. When you attach a USB external drive to your Xbox console, it will automatically recognize external storage and provide on-screen prompts to help you get started.

You can save Xbox Series X|S games on this external hard drive, but you’ll need to move them to the internal SSD or an official Xbox Storage Expansion Card when it’s time to play. Older Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox games, on the other hand, continue to work normally with these USB devices.


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