How To Format An External Hard Drive For PS4 (Safe Method)

With digital downloads and content updates becoming more common in the gaming world, the need for ample storage space on gaming consoles has become critical. One of the most popular gaming consoles, the PlayStation 4 (PS4), allows you to connect an external hard drive to expand storage capacity. However, before you can fully utilise the capabilities of an external hard drive, you must first understand how to format an external hard drive for PS4

You must format a USB storage device the first time you use it. In Settings > Devices > USB Storage Devices, select a device to format, and then select Format as Extended Storage. After formatting, the device is automatically configured as an install location for your applications.

This article is a comprehensive guide on how to format an external hard drive for the PlayStation 4. You will be able to seamlessly integrate additional storage into your gaming setup by following the step-by-step instructions provided, allowing you to install and play more games, store game saves and captures, and enjoy an overall improved gaming experience. 

Formatting an external hard drive for the PS4 is a valuable skill to have, whether you are a casual gamer looking for extra storage or a passionate enthusiast looking to maximize your gaming library. With this helpful guide, you’ll be able to maximize the capabilities of your PS4 console.

Understanding PS4 External Hard Drive Requirements

Discuss PS4 compatibility with external hard drives

The PlayStation 4 (PS4) console supports external hard drives, allowing users to expand their storage capacity beyond the internal drive of the console. However, before connecting an external hard drive to your PS4, you must first understand the compatibility requirements.

USB Compatibility: 

The PS4 supports USB 3.0 and higher, allowing for faster data transfer rates and better performance. To fully utilize the capabilities of your external hard drive, ensure that it is USB 3.0 compatible.

Storage Capacity:

External hard drives ranging in size from a few hundred gigabytes to several terabytes are compatible with PS4 systems. Choose a storage capacity that meets your requirements, taking into account the size of your game library and the amount of extra content you wish to store. 

File System: 

For external hard drives, the PS4 supports two file systems: FAT32 and exFAT. FAT32 is PS4 and PC compatible, but it has a file size limit of 4GB, which can be limiting for larger game files. ExFAT, on the other hand, supports larger file sizes and is the file system recommended for PS4.

Power Requirements: 

Some external hard drives may require a separate power supply, whereas others draw power directly from the PS4 via the USB connection. Check that the power requirements of your external hard drive are compatible with the PS4’s capabilities.

Explain the file system requirements (FAT32, exFAT, or NTFS) for PS4

External hard drive file system requirements for a PlayStation 4 (PS4) console are primarily focused on two options: FAT32 and exFAT. Here’s an explanation of each file system and its PS4 compatibility:

FAT32 (File Allocation Table 32):

Compatibility: The PS4 is capable of supporting the FAT32 file system.

File Size Limit: FAT32 has a maximum file size limit of 4GB, which means that individual files larger than 4GB cannot be stored on the external hard drive.

Compatibility with Other Devices: FAT32 is compatible with the PS4 as well as the majority of other devices, including Windows and macOS systems.

Formatting: You can format an external hard drive to FAT32 using your computer’s built-in formatting tools or third-party software.

ExFAT (Extended File Allocation Table):

Compatibility: PS4 also supports the exFAT file system.

File Size Limit: ExFAT, unlike FAT32, does not have a 4GB file size limit. It can hold individual files up to 4GB in size, which is useful for storing large game files.

Compatibility with Other Devices: exFAT is backwards compatible with PS4, Windows, and macOS. To read exFAT-formatted drives, some devices may require additional software or drivers.

Formatting: You can format an external hard drive to exFAT using your computer’s built-in formatting tools or third-party software.

It should be noted that the PS4 does not support the NTFS file system, which is commonly used in Windows. If your external hard drive is formatted with NTFS, you must reformat it to FAT32 or exFAT to ensure PS4 compatibility.

It is recommended that you back up any important data on the external hard drive before formatting it, as the formatting process erases all existing data on the drive.

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Preparing the External Hard Drive

Backup options for existing data on the hard drive

It is critical to back up any important data stored on an external hard drive before formatting it for use with a PlayStation 4. Consider the following backup options:

  • Transfer to another storage device: 

Transfer the files and folders from the external hard drive to a different storage device, such as a computer, another external hard drive, or a cloud storage service. This ensures that your data is safe and accessible both during and after formatting.

  • Cloud Backup: 

Consider backing up your data to a cloud storage service if you have enough internet bandwidth and storage space. Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive all offer secure online storage. Upload your files to the cloud before formatting the external hard drive, and once the formatting is complete, you can download the files back to the newly formatted drive.

  • Network Attached Storage (NAS):

 If you have a NAS device connected to your home network, you can transfer your data from the external hard drive to the NAS. This allows for centralized storage and easy access to your files from various devices.

  • External Hard Drive Cloning:

Another option is to create a complete clone or image of your existing external hard drive on another drive. This creates an exact replica of the data, including the file structure and system files. Once the cloning process is complete, you can format the original drive without worrying about data loss.

Tools or software needed for formatting

When formatting an external hard drive for use with a PlayStation 4 (PS4), you can utilize the built-in formatting tools on your computer or use third-party software. Here are the options available:

Built-in Formatting Tools:

Windows: If you are using a Windows PC, you can format the external hard drive by following these steps:

  • Connect the external hard drive to your computer.
  • Open the “File Explorer” and locate the external hard drive.
  • Right-click on the drive and select “Format.”
  • Choose the desired file system (FAT32 or exFAT) and provide a volume label (optional).
  • Click “Start” to begin the formatting process.

macOS: If you are using a Mac, follow these steps:

  • Connect the external hard drive to your Mac.
  • Open “Disk Utility” from the “Applications” > “Utilities” folder.
  • From the sidebar, select the external hard drive.
  • Select the “Erase” tab.
  • Select the file system (FAT32 or exFAT) and give the drive a name.
  • Click “Erase” to initiate the formatting process.
  • Formatting Software from a Third Party:

For additional features or options, you may prefer to use third-party formatting software in some cases. EaseUS Partition Master, MiniTool Partition Wizard, and Paragon Partition Manager are among the software programs available for both Windows and macOS. 

These tools provide advanced formatting options as well as additional features such as partition management and disc optimization.

Whatever method you use, make sure to select the correct file system (FAT32 or exFAT) for PS4 compatibility. 

Because formatting the external hard drive will erase all data, backup any important files first. Connect the newly formatted external hard drive to your PS4 and begin using the extra storage for your gaming needs once the formatting process is complete.

Step-by-Step Guide: Formatting the External Hard Drive

Connect the external hard drive to the PS4

Follow these steps to connect the external hard drive to your PlayStation 4 (PS4) console:

  1. Make sure your PS4 console is turned off or in sleep mode.
  2. Locate a USB port on the front or back of your PlayStation 4.
  3. Connect the USB cable from the external hard drive to the PS4’s USB port.
  4. Insert the USB connector into the port gently until it fits snugly.
  5. When the connection is established, a notification will appear on the PS4 screen indicating that a new storage device has been connected.
  6. Turn on your PlayStation 4 console or wake it from sleep mode.
  7. Allow the PS4 system to detect and initialise the external hard drive.
  8. The external hard drive should be ready to use after a few moments.
  9. Please keep in mind that the PS4 requires USB 3.0 or higher for optimal performance. If your external hard drive requires more power, ensure it is also properly connected to a power source.

After connecting the external hard drive, you can format it using the PS4’s recommended file system (FAT32 or exFAT). For instructions on formatting and managing the data on your PS4’s external hard drive, see the previous sections of this content brief. 

Accessing the PS4 system settings

Follow these steps to access the system settings on your PlayStation 4 (PS4) console:

  • Turn on your PlayStation 4 console or wake it from sleep mode.
  • Navigate to the top menu bar on the main screen.
  • Move to the far right of your controller’s D-pad and select the “Settings” option. It has an icon that resembles a toolbox.
  • To access the Settings menu, press the X button on your controller.
  • The Settings menu contains a variety of customization and system configuration categories and options.

The settings menu is organized into different sections, which may include:

  • System: This section contains options for system software updates, power saving settings, and other things.
  • Storage: You can view and manage the storage devices connected to your PlayStation 4, including internal and external hard drives, from this menu.
  • Network: You can configure network settings in this section, including internet connection setup, Wi-Fi settings, and network tests.
  • Display and Sound:You can change the display settings, audio output settings, and other audio/video preferences here.
  • Account Management: This section is where you can manage user accounts, login information, and other account settings.
  • Accessibility: This section provides options for customizing accessibility settings, such as text-to-speech, enlarged text, and color inversion.

Navigate through the various categories and options on your controller by using the D-pad and the X button. Highlight the desired option and press the X button to access specific settings within each category.

Keep in mind that, depending on the PS4 system software version, the exact layout and organization of the settings menu may vary slightly. The general procedure outlined above, however, should help you access the system settings on your PS4 console.

Formatting options and selecting the appropriate file system

Formatting options and selecting the appropriate file system

You must select the appropriate file system when formatting an external hard drive for use with your PlayStation 4 (PS4) console. The PS4 is capable of supporting FAT32 and exFAT file systems. Here are some formatting options and tips for choosing the best file system:

  • FAT32:
  • File Size Limit: FAT32 has a maximum file size limit of 4GB, which means that individual files larger than 4GB cannot be stored on the external hard drive.
  • Compatibility:FAT32 is compatible with the PS4 as well as the majority of other devices, including Windows and macOS systems.
  • Formatting: You can format the external hard drive to FAT32 using your computer’s built-in formatting tools or third-party software.
  • File Size Limit: ExFAT, unlike FAT32, does not have a 4GB file size limit. unlike FAT32, does not have a 4GB file size limit. It can hold individual files up to 4GB in size, which is useful for storing large game files.
  •  compatibility: exFAT is backwards compatible with PS4, Windows, and macOS. To read exFAT-formatted drives, some devices may require additional software or drivers.
  • Formatting:You can format the external hard drive to exFAT using your computer’s built-in formatting tools or third-party software.Consider the following factors when deciding on a file system:
  • Game File Sizes: ExFAT is recommended if you intend to store games with large individual file sizes (greater than 4GB) to ensure compatibility and avoid any file size limitations.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: FAT32 is more widely compatible if you intend to use the external hard drive on other devices such as Windows or macOS systems. However, keep in mind the FAT32 file size limit of 4GB.
  • Existing Data: If the external hard drive already has data on it, make a backup before formatting it. Formatting erases all existing data on the drive.

You can format the external hard drive using your computer’s built-in formatting tools. Connect the drive to your computer, locate it in the file explorer (Windows) or Disc Utility (macOS), and format it using the appropriate file system (FAT32 or exFAT).

Confirming the formatting process and wait times

The formatting of an external hard drive on a PlayStation 4 (PS4) console usually takes only a few moments. However, the exact time depends on factors such as drive size and the speed of your PS4 console.

It is critical to follow the on-screen instructions provided by the PS4 system during the formatting process. The console will walk you through the steps and notify you when the formatting is complete and when it is not.

Please keep in mind that formatting will erase all data on the external hard drive, so make a backup of any important files before continuing. After formatting, the external hard drive will be ready for use with your PS4, and you can begin storing games, applications, and media on it. 

If you have an unusually long formatting time or encounter any problems during the process, make sure your PS4 system software is up to date. System software updates can be found in the PS4 settings menu under the “System” category.

Managing Data on the Formatted External Hard Drive

Transferring game data to the external hard drive

Transferring game data to an external hard drive connected to your PlayStation 4 (PS4) is a convenient way to free up internal storage space on your console and expand your overall storage capacity. Here’s how to move game data to an external hard drive:

Connect the external hard drive:

  • Check that your external hard drive is properly connected via USB to your PS4 console.
  • The console should detect the external hard drive and display a message indicating that it has been successfully connected.

Access the application’s saved data:

  • Using the controller, navigate to the “Settings” menu from the PS4 home screen.
  • From the settings menu, select “Storage” and then “System Storage.”
  • Select “Applications” from the “System Storage” menu to see a list of all installed games and applications on your PS4.

Select game data to:

  • Highlight the game or application that you want to transfer to the external hard drive from the list of applications.
  • To open a contextual menu, press the “Options” button on your controller.
  • Select “Move to Extended Storage” or a similar option from the menu, depending on your PS4 system software version.

Confirm the transfer.

  • You will be prompted to confirm the transfer of the selected game data to the external hard drive.
  • To begin the transfer, click “Move” or “Confirm.”

Monitor the transfer Progress:

  • The PS4 console will display a progress bar indicating the transfer process.
  • The duration of the transfer depends on the size of the game data being transferred and the speed of the external hard drive.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Addressing formatting errors or failures

There are several steps you can take if you encounter formatting errors or failures while attempting to format an external hard drive for use with your PlayStation 4 (PS4). Here’s what you can do:

Retry the formatting process:

  • Formatting errors can occur as a result of temporary issues or minor glitches. In such cases, it is worthwhile to retry the formatting process.
  • Follow the formatting instructions for the external hard drive as outlined in the previous sections of this content brief.
  • Reconnect the external hard drive to your computer or PS4 console and repeat the formatting process.

Check for compatibility:

  • Check to see if the external hard drive you’re using is compatible with the PS4 system. For optimal performance, the PS4 supports USB 3.0 and higher.
  • Check to see if the external hard drive meets the PS4 console’s requirements and specifications.
  • If the external hard drive is incompatible, you may need to try another hard drive that meets the necessary specifications.

Update system software:

  • Check that your PS4 console is running the most recent system software version.
  • Select “System Software Update” from the PS4 settings menu and follow the on-screen instructions to check for and instal any available updates.
  • System software updates can sometimes resolve compatibility issues and improve overall performance.

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Final Words

Formatting an external hard drive for use with your PlayStation 4 (PS4) can greatly increase your storage capacity while also improving your gaming experience. By following the appropriate steps and selecting the right file system (FAT32 or exFAT), you can ensure compatibility and efficient data management.

We talked about how important PS4 compatibility with external hard drives is, as well as the file system requirements. Understanding the distinctions between FAT32 and exFAT enables you to make an informed decision based on your specific requirements and preferences.

We also discussed backup options for existing data on the hard drive, emphasizing the importance of backing up your data before formatting it. In addition, we discussed the tools or software required for formatting as well as the procedure for connecting the external hard drive to your PS4.

Accessing the PS4 system settings is essential for managing your console’s configuration and customization options, while the section on formatting options and selecting the appropriate file system provides guidance on making the best choice for your requirements.

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