Can You Put Games on External Hard Drives?

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Can You Put Games on External Hard Drives?

Games can be pretty heavy and take up a lot of your desktop or laptop’s storage space. Before you know it, you might start getting a not enough space or C drive full message. And this has made a lot of gaming enthusiasts ask the question, “Can I put games on external hard drives?”

You can put games on external hard drives. Note however that you are not playing games from your external hard drives. Instead, you are loading your games from them. 

Many gaming enthusiasts are now putting their games on external hard drives with the intention of having more storage space on their PC’s internal drive. Even, many gaming platforms now support you installing games directly to external hard drives. This way, you get to have all the gaming power you need without having to work on the inside of your PC. 

It’s possible you experience slightly slower loading times when you are loading games from an external hard drive. However, the moment you get in-game, you are not going to notice the difference

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Things to know about putting games on an external hard drive

1. Your games will not work if you are not with your external hard drive. All the files the games need to work are stored on your external hard drive and this means you need your drive to play the game. 

2. The games will stop or crash if you disconnect the external hard drive in-game. Ensure your external drive is properly connected before playing and do not for any reason disconnect the drive during gameplay as doing this could damage your drive. 

3. Sometimes, your external hard drive may load under a different letter allocation. And this may cause the game not to work if you have shortcuts. The game may be looking for Drive F, which is the former letter your external hard drive was allocated when your drive is now allocated as Drive E. This usually happens when you use multiple drives on your system. However,  there’s an easy fix for this but it’s just something you should keep in mind. 

A way to fix the letter allocation issue is to assign a persistent drive letter to your external hard disk. I once assigned V to my external hard drive as I had nothing else in that range. Once you do this, your external hard drive will work more reliably. 

4. You may lose your saves and have to reinstall all your games if your external hard drive stops working. And this means you may have to back up the external hard drive in case of a drive failure. This is generally not very appealing as the size of games may be very large and require you to buy another external drive. 

I’ll recommend that you buy quality hard drives as they are generally more durable and long-lasting. Then, you could backup up your saves regularly on a cloud. This is what I do for my games. I think every gamer is more concerned about the saves because no one wants to start from scratch again!

5. There’s now a lot more support for users that want to install games on an external hard drive. Steam now supports games being played from your external drive in as much as all other resources are available on whatever machine you plug into. I think Xbox supports this as well. 

Do games run slower on external hard drives?

There are hard drives that move at turtle speed….

It’s common for gamers to experience slightly slower times when loading games from an external hard drive. But games run smoothly without any problem after launching. 

Note that the performance of your game will also be affected by the speed of the external hard drive and the type of port you are using. In most cases, a USB 3.0 port is usually required for best results when loading huge open-world games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Mass Effect Andromeda. USB 3.0 will help deliver fast data transfer. 

The spec of your external hard drive also matters, especially the drive speed as mentioned above. If the speed of your external hard drive is slower than that of your internal HDD, then your game will load slower. Because your game will load more slowly and content loads from the disk will take longer. But if they are of similar speeds or if your external hard drive has faster speed than your internal HDD, then you’ll experience faster loading times.

SSD drives will generally perform better than HDD and are more suited to gaming. 

…and there are drives that move quick as lightening.

For reasons only known to the company, Sony decided to implement internal HDD of PS4 as external which means you have an internal USB3 link going into a USB to SATA chip, and then goes to the HDD. What all these fancy terms mean that the PS4 is a huge External HDD case/game console combo. And that means in this case, an external or internal HDD will deliver the same speed. I heard this design was fixed in later revisions. 

Do games run better on external HDD or SSD?

There isn’t much difference between the two, though external SSDs win due to faster loading times. 

External SSDs have faster disk speeds and when connected to a USB port will launch games a lot faster than external HDDs will. But disk speed isn’t a major determinant of the performance of most games. This is why there won’t be any significant difference between external HDDs and SSDs when you are playing games like Battlefield 4. 

But where open-world games like Far Cry 4 or Assassin Creed are involved, you might experience slight differences in the performance of external HDDs and SSDs. If your HDD has a slightly slower disk speed or is not connected to a fast USB port, then you might notice slight delays in open-world games when traveling through the world at high speed (because new parts of the world have to be loaded in the background all the time).

But in as much as there is a fast enough transfer of data to and from, there won’t be any difference between the performances of external HDDs and SSDs in-game. 

What actually influences the performance of your game is the graphics card, which is considered the heart of a gaming device. A graphics card has its own memory set, controls the graphical elements of a game, and determines the number of frames per second (FPS) your system can achieve. 

Best external hard drive for gaming

There are many external hard drives on the market that it becomes difficult to choose one. For this reason, I’ve done all the hard work for you and come up with the best external hard drive for gaming. A number of factors like platform compatibility, storage space, disk and transfer speed, durability as well as price were put into consideration before coming up with an external hard drive. Continue reading to find out the best external hard drive for gaming. 

WD Black P10 – Slim 2.5” Drive for Gamers

This external has everything a gaming enthusiast could ask for one. For one, it’s compatible with many platforms as you can use it on both personal computers and consoles. 

The compact and portable design means it’s built to be travel-friendly and gamers can conveniently take this drive along on their travels. Since you need to have your external hard drive to play your game, it’ll be frustrating to leave your drive at home when traveling because it is too bulky. 

I like the high capacity of this drive which can be as high as 5 TB. The sizes of games are increasing with every new release as more features are being added. And you’ll need a drive that can accommodate all your games. 

This drive has a fast rpm and also comes with large cache sizes. The result of this is fast loading of your games and a better gaming experience overall. This drive is also compatible with USB 3.0 ports for fast data transfer to and from your devices. 

The price of this external hard drive is affordable and testament that you don’t need to break the bank to get a quality external hard drive. 

You can check WD Black P10 –  on Amazon.

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