Can You Play Games off an External Hard Drive ?

Every gamer wants to know whether play PC games from an external hard drive is possible or is it just a lie. The answer is Yes, one can play and it is not a lie, though there are technicalities involved into this. A gamer cannot be happier by storing large size of games on external hard drive and play them without storing on internal storage of laptop or PC.

Let’s learn about this, how actually this is possible.

Can You Play Games Off an External Hard Drive ?

To install the games on internal storage have become not a good choice for hard core gamers these days. There is already large amount of data stored on internal drives other than games and low remaining storage affects the gaming experience. For Instance, games like Far Cry 6 requires 37 GB additional storage for HD textures which adds the value into gaming experience, otherwise its basic storage requires 60GB.

Therefore, gamers are looking for the external hard drives as an option to store all big games to avoid low storage problems hurts gameplay. A true gamer would never accept to game plays at low-resolution and without Ray Tracing just because running out of storage.

Now, to answer the question about the possibility of installing games on external drives and play games from there is not simple and also have to response the technicalities involved.

What Gamers Compromises When Installing Games On External Hard Drives

If you have been playing games for long time and also played them from external hard drives, you should know better that gaming performance on external drives was never best comparing to Internal drives. External drives used to be taking so long in loading the game and also frequently crashed during gameplay.

But that was the case with HDDs an outdated drives and SSD was very expensive to afford. Now, SSD drives have also become cheaper comparatively and no such issues involved with this. But, you should also know more things before having an SSD to install games on.

The Comparison between HDDs and SDDs

An external hard drive is a term used for SDDs these days, SSD stands for Solid-State-Drive and much efficient comparing to HDDs. Though, SSD was invented in the year 1976 but its technology is still the first choice for hard core users. It is made of several memory chips which coordinate at its best with the RAM.

SSDs also share the workload of RAM because it is installed with non-volatile RAM which also stores the temporary memory. This is the reason big size of files can be accessed on SSDs five to ten times faster than HDDs. As RAM supports the processor in its workload, SSDs also provides the support to RAM respectively.

HDDs come with comparatively old and less efficient technology having spinning discs. We can take an example of record player to understand the HDDs technology.

HDDs is only popular as more affordable and available at cheaper price which makes the gamers to buy HDDs for installing the games to enjoy massive storage capacity. But, its users have to pay the cost through suffering from slow loading speed and frequent crashing.

Advantages of SSDs

We have discussed a lot about HDDs and this is not a good choice for using to enjoy massive storage capacity. But, what about SSD and does it offer high-quality gaming experience ?

First of all, you can use SSD as an external drive for installing games and play from and also enjoy high loading speed without crashes during gameplay. Now, SSD is not that expensive as it used to be years ago and can also expect a decline in its prices. Furthermore, SSDs retrieves the gaming data in no time which must be an important factor for a gamer.

A game installation takes 3-4 minutes on HDD, whereas maximum ninety seconds on SSD. Furthermore, game play requires accessing the data on continuously basis and SSD retrieves it in no time to support the smooth gaming experience without any crash.

A game you are playing is actually retrieving the data from your storage to show you a new frame such as building or house, it requires fastest loading speed to support un-interrupted gameplay and SSD is extremely good at this. Therefore, crashing is not the thing on SSD during playing the game. It is evident that SSD promises high frame rate as compared to HDD.

The problem with HDD is its old technology and discs. Every time disc has to move physically from its starting point to access the new unique data which slows down its memory accessing speed and sometimes causes freezing issues in data retrieving. This freezing issue further causes crash the gameplay.

SSD is made of memory chips and includes no physical moving parts which make it more powerful. Accessing the data through memory chips is way faster than using physical moving parts.

Other Factors To Consider

There are also other factors involved which should be your consideration and they have own weightage cannot be ignored.

Hard Drive Lifespan

If you pay the value for a thing, its lifespan also matters to decide whether it’s worth or not. SSD offers you great value and faster data retrieving speed, but its life is shorter than HDD, though both drives will not end forever. Once SSD or HDD stops functioning and its life is over, the all saved games will be wasted.

Portable / External Devices Has Own Risks  

External devices offers the convenience and great value but also comes with own kinds of risks, especially when it is about ruining the gaming experience. It can be easily unplugged or disconnected which will immediately crash your game and you might not have saved the progress.

Disc Allocations

When you play the game from external drive can come across new device recognition issue. It happens when plugging the switch into the PC or laptop on playing the game and your system fails to recognize the new external drive which also makes you fail to play the games. Therefore, user has to get it recognize first time but then it would not be an issue.

Precautionary Measures For External Hard Drives

The standard size of SSD is 2.5 inches, whereas HDD is bigger in size. The chances of misplacing the SSD somewhere and lost it forever are higher, it means all saved games and the progress you made would also be wasted. Since, SSDs are thin and compact in shape and can easily be carried with. You can easily attach it to your keychain and carry wherever you go, just plug-in the device and start playing games.  

HDDs are heavier, bigger in size and would be hefty for key chain. You can buy a HDD protection case which will keep it protected from dust which otherwise affects its data retrieving performance and reduces lifespan.

How To Install Games on an External Hard Drive

We have discussed everything about HDDs vs SDDs and made in-depth comparison. Now, let’s start the discussion to learn about how to install games on an external hard drive.

First of all, it is depended upon the location or platform where user stores games and then we have to decide how to install games from that location to our external hard drives. We will be covering two big platforms: Steam and EA Origin where user has stored games and wants to install those games on external hard drive.

Before start using external hard drive for installing games, make sure its properly connected with your PC.

Download & Installing Games From STEAM To External Drive

It is very easy process to download and install the game from STEAM platform to any other source you want including external drive. First of all, go to “Settings” and then go to the “Downloads” tab. Now, you can a button named “STEAM Library Folders” which needs to be clicked. In the next step, click on “ADD NEW LIBRARY FOLDER”, this is where you want to download and install the selected games.

Here, you need to select your attached external hard drive where all selected games will be downloaded.

To move the required game to external hard drive, user needs to perform the right-click on the game name folder; it will appear many options but needs to click the “Local Files Tab“. Then, you need to click “MOVE INSTALL FOLDER” which will move the game folder from STEAM library to your external hard drive.

You need to go back on STEAM and click on drop-down list which will also show your external hard drive as one of the “Library Folders” where your games are stored. Now, you can play game anytime and anywhere after connecting the external drive to the PC.

Downloading & Installing Games From EA Origin To External Drive

You would be surprised the EA Origin makes it easier than STEAM. It would not require the user to create a new library folder and then get it connected with external drive.

User just requires performing the right-click on game name, which will appear many options for you, just click “Move Game and then after performing some browsing select your external drive.

Running Games Off Your External Hard Drive

In the end of article, we are going to summarize in simple words about how to running games off your external hard drive.

First, make sure your external drive SSD or HDD is properly connected with the PC, the one on going to play games. Now, launch the service of your subscribed game client, login the account and go to your external drive library for selecting the game.

Again, we would recommend you to buy a SSD which offers better gaming experience to play from external drive. It is faster in retrieving gaming data without crashing the game or any freezing issues.