The PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro are confirmed to be getting external hard drive support with the next system software update. Although a firm release date has not yet been solidified, Sony has announced that software update 4.50 (also known by the codename Sasuke) is currently undergoing beta testing with select members of the PS4 beta program.
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) February 3, 2017
Although external storage systems could be connected to the PS4 via the USB ports to back up the system’s storage or transfer saved data files, an external drive couldn’t be used to extend the system’s memory. Previously, upgrading the hard drive on a PS4 required swapping out the internal hard drive. This process involved performing a backup of the console, opening the PS4 to removing the existing hard drive with a screwdriver, putting the new hard drive in, reinstalling the system software, and then restoring the game files using the back up.
According to an update on the PlayStation.Blog posted by John Koller, Vice President of PlayStation Brand Marketing at Sony Interactive Entertainment America, the addition of external hard drive support on PlayStation 4 will make upgrading the system as easy as plugging in a compatible drive into the machine’s USB slot.
“With this update, you have the option to store content to an external HDD. Just plug a USB 3.0 HDD into your PS4, and voilà, you now have more space on the console.”
“This is compatible with HDDs up to 8TB in size. You can download and install applications directly to your extra storage, and the saved contents are easily manageable through the settings menu.”
“Also, all the applications saved in the external HDD will appear in the Content Launcher of the Home Screen so it’s easy to keep track of what apps you launched recently.”
PS4 gamers looking to upgrade to an 8TB system could do so with an external HDD that costs about $200 to $400 USD, depending on the brand and place purchased. Upgrading to a 2TB or 4TB HDD would cost significantly less with many retailers putting 2TB external HDDs up for sale at around $60 and 4TB external HDDs going for around $110 and up as of this writing.
It’s not yet known if Sony is planning to sell a specialty drive specific to PS4 in the near future. By comparison, external storage on Xbox One has been available since closely after launch. The competing console offers players the ability to upgrade to a 16TB external drive, along with licensed drives like Seagate’s Gears of War 4 special edition external drive.
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) February 4, 2017
With digital game downloads being offered every month to PlayStation Plus subscribers and the increase in digital game sales in 2016, gamers who want to have more of their library readily available to enjoy whenever they want is a growing concern. The issue of storage space extends to even physical copies, as last year saw several popular titles require a significant portion of their disc space even with the purchase of a physical copy. Activision’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition, which includes both Infinite Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered eats up a whopping 130 GB of the storage space on PS4 and Xbox One. That’s more than one-fifth of the PS4’s storage for those with a 500 GB console.
The next system software update on PS4 should resolve many of these concerns by giving gamers the option to easily upgrade to an external hard drive of their choosing. In the meantime, PlayStation Plus members can free up some of their hard drive space by taking advantage of the member-exclusive cloud storage system to keep their game save data stored remotely. Each PS Plus member gets 10 GB of cloud storage space to work with, but they should note this feature and the saved data can only be accessed as long as their PS Plus subscription remains active.
[Featured Image by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images]