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Can you use an external hard drive with the Xbox Series X|S?

Games are getting THICC. You’ll need somewhere to store all those juicy files.

Xbox series x with a green glow
Image: KnowTechie

With the release of the new Xbox Series X|S at the end of 2020 comes a new era for gaming. The new consoles from Microsoft come equipped with a plethora of hardware upgrades and are fully equipped for 4k 120 hertz gaming.

With that kind of power, there may come a few questions when it comes to compatibility. As technologies advance, they may sometimes leave older tech in the past, sometimes rendering them obsolete.

One big question that users may have is whether or not they can use an external hard drive with the new Xbox Series X. The answer may not be so cut and dry.

So, is an external hard drive compatible with the Xbox Series X?

Short Answer: Kind of

External hard drives were absolutely able to be used for gaming on the previous generation of Xbox One consoles. This was due mainly to the fact that the speeds of storage in last-generation consoles were similar to storage speeds on external drives.

The higher speed of the Xbox Series X’s SSDs won’t allow newer generation games to be played from an external hard drive. However, due to the incredible backwards compatibility found in the new consoles, users can still use an external drive to play Xbox One or Xbox 360 titles on their new consoles. Simply hook up the external drive via USB and you’ll be able to play your last gen games on your next gen consoles without issue.

That said, companies are starting to work with Microsoft to offer true external hard drives for Xbox Series X|S games, including this offering from Seagate.

Though it may be a bummer to find out that you can’t play Xbox Series X games from an external hard drive, there is a small silver lining. While games cannot be played from the drive, they can actually be stored there. This means that once your internal SSD fills up, you can transfer some Xbox Series X game files to an external hard drive to free up some space. You can then transfer those files back to the SSD later and enjoy your game without having to re-download the files.

This should tell you everything you need to know about hooking up an external hard drive to your new Microsoft console.

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Staff writer at KnowTechie. Alex has two years of experience covering all things technology, from video games to electric cars. He's a gamer at heart, with a passion for first-person shooters and expansive RPGs. Shoot him an email at

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