May 31, 2017 Update: Nowadays, the Xbox One comes stock with respectable storage capacity from 500GB up to to 2TB. Still it’s not THAT hard to fill up the space. Thankfully, there has always been the option to use external storage solutions, so rather than crack open the case and swap out the HDD inside, just plug it in.
Not all external hard drives are created equal, so before you dive in, make sure your potential purchase meets the requirements.
(1) The drive must be USB 3.0
Not only the drive, but if you’re using a USB hub, it also must be USB 3.0. Seems like a no-brainer, but that spec is easy to overlook and it’d be a shame to find out the external drive you bought isn’t going to work.
(2) It must be bigger than 256GB
OK, so really, as inexpensive as storage is these days, you’re probably not going to go lower than what’s included in the console already. But if you were thinking of re-purposing an old HDD, make sure its big enough first.
(3) For 3TB drives or less, stick with a portable hard drive
The cost difference between a portable hard drive and a desktop hard drive for 3TB and smaller drives is insignificant compared to the convenience of portable drives. Not only are they much smaller and easier to tote around, they are entirely USB bus-powered. That means a single USB cable will serve double duty as both charge and sync. Desktop hard drives are bulkier, louder, draw more power, and require a separate AC adapter for power. They also won’t offer noticeable performance improvements over their portable brethren if all you are using it for is Xbox One storage.
(4) For 4TB drives or more, consider a full-sized desktop drive
Here we see a more of a price gap between the two. Additionally, there simply aren’t many portable drives over 4TB, so the full-sized drive is usually the only way to go. Of course if you have the money to burn, or you move your Xbox One around alot, I’d still recommend a portable drive.
(5) More likely than not, you don’t have to stick to any brand name
Because the USB 3.0 interface is universal, and storage is just storage, you don’t need to stick to a particular brand. It’s very likely that any USB 3.0 drive will be compatible with your Xbox One.
(6) Have an internal drive already? Buy a USB 3.0 enclosure!
Buying an enclosure is much cheaper than buying an entirely new hard drive, and you’ll finally be able to put that old drive of yours to good use. There are tons available on Amazon and they start at about $10. Better still, unlike PS4, the Xbox One benefits from the additional performance afforded by an externally connected SSD, so if you have one already, toss it in an enclosure and enjoy the improved loading times on many games.
(7) Ignore the extra bells and whistles some hard drives include
Some drives offer more software or security features. There’s absolutely no need for any of this stuff for Xbox One storage. For example, the main difference between the WD Passport and Elements is that the Passport includes WDsmartware Pro for automatic backup, cloud backup feature, and better encryption. None of this is even usable on Xbox One, so the only reason to get the Passport is on the rare occasion that it is cheaper.
Solid State Drives and Hard Drive Hybrids
Note: Some of these SSDs are internal drives which require an SATA connector, not USB. In those cases, get an SATA to USB 3.0 external enclosure to make it work.
Plug and play (no enclosure needed):
Requires an external enclosure:
1TB Portable Hard Drives
2TB Portable Hard Drives
4TB Portable Hard Drives
Full-Sized (Non-Portable) Hard Drives
Eric Song is IGN’s deal curator and spends roughly 1/4 of his income on stuff he posts. Check out his latest IGN Daily Deals article, follow him at IGN Deals on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his IGN Deals Newsletter.