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Foebane72

Who has experience of playing Steam games with an external USB HDD?

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My PC only has a 250Gb SSD, but there's no way I can fit even a few of my Steam games on there, so I'm wondering about getting an external USB hard disk drive (for capacity) and using that to store and run Steam games from.

 

Namely this model:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seagate-Expansion-Portable-PlayStation-STGX1000400/dp/B07DQ5ZH1D/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=external+2.5+hard+drive&qid=1583499501&sr=8-3

 

Who has experience of running Steam this way? I hear it's certainly possible, but I'm wondering about the reliability of an HDD powered by USB and no power supply.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

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I've used an external Western Digital My Passport 4TB HDD for almost 3 years for storing games and other files with barely any troubles (at least not any I can remember). Granted, it's a 5200RPM drive so it's slow-ish but the capacity outweighs the speed.

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8 hours ago, Foebane72 said:

but I'm wondering about the reliability of an HDD powered by USB and no power supply.

USB3 can supply more than enough power for external hard-drives. Just don't plug them into a USB hub (even a powered one), it's not ideal for their performance (and unpowered hubs tend to cause problems). Otherwise there's no concerns.

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9 hours ago, Edward850 said:

USB3 can supply more than enough power for external hard-drives. Just don't plug them into a USB hub (even a powered one), it's not ideal for their performance (and unpowered hubs tend to cause problems). Otherwise there's no concerns.

 

Yeah USB 3 has a theoretical bandwidth of 5gbps which is faster than all but the newer SATA 3 standard. USB 2 might be OK for older or undemanding games but I would not want to run Skyrim off it, for example.

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I tested multiple Steam Library Folders by adding one in the root folder of 32Gb USB sticks, but the results were not promising:

 

On a stick which may have been USB 2.0, one game I tried to install took too long to prepare the download, so I cancelled it.

And then, when I tried a USB 3.0 stick, it threw up a disk write/read error, so I couldn't do anything with it.

 

So does this mean it's easily fixable so I can add USB sticks and run the games off them as I like, or not? I couldn't fix the error above.

 

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USB sticks of such capacities are more likely formatted as FAT32, not NTFS (or even exFAT) which Steam games will typically expect/require as their filesystem.

Additionally, when you were talking about external USB hard disk drive, we presumed you meant an actual external hard drive. USB sticks are flash storage and a very primitive I/O controller which are wildly inappropriate for such loads, while it'll work (if formatted correctly) it'll run like absolute shit, let alone even installing the content to them in the first place could take forever depending on the game. Steam's content management will also just compound the issue.

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24 minutes ago, Edward850 said:

USB sticks of such capacities are more likely formatted as FAT32, not NTFS (or even exFAT) which Steam games will typically expect/require as their filesystem.

Additionally, when you were talking about external USB hard disk drive, we presumed you meant an actual external hard drive. USB sticks are flash storage and a very primitive I/O controller which are wildly inappropriate for such loads, while it'll work (if formatted correctly) it'll run like absolute shit, let alone even installing the content to them in the first place could take forever depending on the game. Steam's content management will also just compound the issue.

 

Yes, I discovered that once I formatted my TEST USB sticks to NTFS, that problem went away, but it was still slow.

 

I WAS talking about an external hard drive, but I wanted to test the idea first on small USB sticks I had hanging around.

 

However, I read around and found out that USB is a BAD option for a Steam folder, as it doesn't like it if there is an interruption to the connection, and it would still be slow.

 

SO, I took the plunge and bought a 1Tb INTERNAL hard disk drive (SATA) instead. Fitting it was a bit of a nightmare, as I had to remove several cable ties put on by the people I bought the PC from (I didn't build it myself) and even unplug a few things to get the drive squeezed in, but now it's working, is now a dedicated Steam drive, and I don't have to worry about disk space for a long time, now.

 

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