Stay on top of your expanding digital library with Xbox One hard drives

As technology improves, game developers are creating more and more impressive video game experiences. Of course this means that games aren’t just getting better, they are also getting bigger—much bigger. The average big studio release for Xbox One can be upwards of 10 times larger than most games from just one generation prior on the Xbox 360. It’s due to this increase in size that hard drives and storage have become a key feature of the Xbox One console.

Internal storage

Every new Xbox One console comes with an internal hard drive. The amount of space can vary, but is clearly marked on the package and in the product description. The Xbox One S model is available in both 500GB and 1TB sizes, while the Xbox One X always includes a 1TB hard drive.

Keep in mind however that a certain amount of this internal space is reserved for saved games, console software, and other system functions. A 500GB Xbox One actually only has about 365GB of usable storage, while a 1TB model has about 781GB of free space. This may still seem like a lot, but it can actually become used up very quickly, leaving many consumers looking for options to expand their storage capacity.

Where does all that space go?

Games are requiring more space than ever before, and it’s not just digital-only titles who are the culprits. Even most disc-based games still require their entire data volume to be installed directly to the console. Installing software directly to the console has become necessary in order for these games to run with maximum speed and efficiency. With the average game taking up between 30-50GB, and some even as much as 80GB or more, it’s easy to see how even a 1TB hard drive can fill up very quickly.

Many players also have larger game libraries than ever before. With the advent of free titles through “Games with Gold”, and an entire library of free titles available through an “Xbox Game Pass” subscription, it’s possible to have access to more games than an internal hard drive can hold straight out of the box!

The Xbox One X has the potential to take up even more space per game, as many titles have been optimized for its increased processing power. These optimizations look amazing, but they come with additional hefty downloads and updates.

External hard drives

The best solution for increasing the storage capacity on an Xbox One console is through an external hard drive. Knowing that storage capacity would be an issue, Microsoft has made it extremely easy to upgrade the amount of space available for any Xbox One console simply by connecting an additional storage device via USB.

There are a few rules for external hard drive compatibility however. The hard drive must be capable of a USB 3.0 connection, as USB 2.0 is not compatible. Drives must also be at least 256GB in size, and the console has a 16TB storage limit. Furthermore, the Xbox One can facilitate a maximum of two separate external storage devices.

Speed and performance

Another thing to consider is external hard drive speed. The Xbox One’s internal hard drive runs at 5400 RPM, however external hard drives can provide a boost to 7,200 RPM or even 10,000 RPM. Solid state drives offer even faster performance, but do tend to be much pricier. Keep in mind that the cost of hard drive speeds are generally measured in dollars spent.

In theory however, the faster the hard drive, the quicker your games will install, load, and save. This can leave more time for playing and less time spent watching progress bars and load screens.

A portable library

An additional upside to storing games on an external hard drive is the portability factor. So long as an Xbox One console is signed in under your profile, games can be played from a connected external storage device. This means you can share your library between multiple consoles in your home, or even take your library to a friend’s house without having to re-download and install your games. This feature can be extremely valuable to players with slower internet speeds or limited bandwidth.