We love this generation of console gaming. Love it. But there is one inescapable fact, the hard drives in modern games machines are just not big enough.
Considering the rise in sales of digital downloads and that even physical games on discs require installation to the hard drive, 500GB - the size of the HDD in standard Xbox One and PS4 consoles - is simply not enough.
You could opt for a 1TB model of the Xbox One S or the Xbox One X, that comes with 1TB as default, but considering games now go up to around 110GB even without 4K enhancements (yep, Red Dead Redemption 2, we're looking at you), even that will struggle to fit many titles.
And, with games of that size taking an absolute age to download over broadband, even with a 100Mbps connection or more, it's not ideal to have to delete games to make room for new ones.
There is a solution though. You can always add to or replace the hard drive. And on the Xbox One, Xbox One S or Xbox One X that's a doddle. It doesn't even require a screwdriver.
Thankfully, the Xbox One recognises external hard drives, as long as they have a USB 3.0 connection. And, once installed, they can be used in exactly the same way as the existing internal HDD.
We've done it ourselves in fact, expanding our own Xbox One hard drive by a further 2TB, which is enough for anywhere up to an estimated 100 games (on an average of 20 - 25GB per game) - or 20 top end enhanced titles on Xbox One X. And what's more, it runs as smoothly, if not faster than the internal drive that comes with Xbox One and Xbox One S. Here's how...
First choice you need to make is which external drive you will use. We chose a 2TB Seagate Game Drive designed especially for Xbox. It is USB 3.0, doesn't require an external power source so doesn't take up an additional socket under our AV cabinet, and its Xbox-adorned facia makes it a good fit. At around £70 for 2TB it's also good value. You can even opt for a 4TB version for less that £100 to fit even more games and captures.
You can pay a bit more and opt for a 7200 RPM drive instead (the Seagate Game Drive is 5400 RPM) but we've gone for convenience, no noise and price. And after all, the Xbox One and Xbox One S internal drives are 5400 RPM too, so the performance will at least match them.
You can also add multiple drives - after all there are three USB 3.0 ports on the Xbox One but be aware that the Xbox One can only accept up to three external drives in total, so no extra daisy chaining.
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Once you have your drive to hand, set-up is simple. Plug it into one of the three USB 3.0 ports (two on the rear, one on the front or side depending on the model) when the Xbox One is on. A message will pop up on screen to show it recognises that the drive has been connected.
You can either go to the settings through interaction with the pop-up or head there manually and enter the "System" settings.
In there you will see the "storage" icon. Select it and the next page will show your existing external hard drive alongside the new one.
In all likelihood the drive will need to be formatted before it can be used for anything other than storing video, picture and music files, especially if it's come straight out of the packaging. The Xbox One needs to do that itself. So choose the new drive and scroll down to the option "Format". Select "Format storage device" and a new screen will pop up with a keyboard to select the drive's name.
We kept the default name "External" and chose to install new games and apps to the new drive when asked.
Formatting the drive takes no more than five or six seconds and you're good to go.
On your My Games & Apps screen you will now see that the entire storage available, both internally and externally, is accumulated into one statistic.
We also recommend you completely shut down your Xbox One and reboot. We did and the drive worked very well straight after.
Moving games and performance
In our tests we found no discernible difference in loading speeds generally, at least on the original Xbox One and Xbox One S - you could always opt for a faster but considerably more expensive solid state drive (SSD) for that.
The internal drive in the Xbox One X is much faster in operation, so you might get a slight lag in speeds, but the extra storage more than makes up for that.
We also decided to move a few games across from drive to drive to see how long it takes and discovered that to move Halo: The Master Chief Collection's mammoth 58GB (before Xbox One X enhancements) took just over 40 minutes in total.
One benefit of moving games from the internal to the external drive is that you will be able to play your downloaded titles on a friend's Xbox One by just connecting the hard drive to his or her console and signing into your profile. You don't then need to redownload any games you wish to play. That's another good reason for opting for a more portable USB 3.0 drive like the Seagate Game Drive.