How to use an external hard drive with Xbox Series X|S and limitations

With the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S transitioning to custom SSDs for internal storage and expansion, fans are understandably confused about whether or not they can continue to use their current USB external hard drives. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as clean-cut as users would like.

There are two types of external drives that can be used with Xbox Series X|S, and one of these is much more limited than the other. We’ll cover the stipulations for using an external hard drive with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S below.

Can an external hard drive be used with the Xbox Series X|S?

Xbox Series X expandable storage Seagate Expansion Card standalone

Players can use an external hard drive with the Xbox Series X|S, though there are some caveats. Standard USB hard drives, like Seagate’s Game Drive lineup, can be connected to the console via any USB port. If there are games on it that users have installed on Xbox One, they will immediately be playable.

Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games are playable from a hard drive connected via USB. These games won’t get the advantages of the Xbox Series X’s Velocity Architecture, but they should load as fast and perform as well as they would on an Xbox One X. Additionally, since the console utilizes USB 3.1, loading games on an external solid-state drive may allow for quicker load times than a spinning-disk hard drive.

Unfortunately, “Optimized of Xbox Series X|S” games can’t be played via the USB hard drive. These will have to be installed on the Xbox Series X|S’s internal storage or the Storage Expansion Card (if installed). The Storage Expansion Card slot is the only way to expand the console’s drive space that supports the full range of console functionality.

Despite the limitations of USB drives, games can be copied from an external drive to internal storage. This means users can use a USB drive as long-term storage and copy games onto the console as needed.