Here’s How You Can Use Your External Hard Drive On Laptop For Gaming

Using your external SSD for installing games and also for other applications is a very beneficial process. 

By using an external SSD you can keep your laptop or PC disk space free and free space provides more space to work your device smoothly and quickly. 

The process for using an external drive is not so difficult but you have to know the correct way. And in this article, we have described it briefly.

How do you play games from an external hard drive?

Well, there are many ways by which you can easily play games from an external hard drive.

One of the most effective ways is the installation of a game installer which helps us to get access to the game from an external hard drive. See the process below:- 

  • The First step which you have to do is to connect your external drive to the computer. You have to ensure that the external hard drive is properly connected to the computer. 
  • In this step, you have to assure the assessment of information on the external hard drive. 
  • Now you’re ready to go. So, take the help of an installer to install games on your computer. Well, there are plenty of platforms available online like Stream. You can also use any other platform but don’t forget to get the installing steps from its official website. 
  • So, open the gaming platform and search for the game. An option of the install file is also available. You just have to click on it and install the file.
  • The platform (Like Stream) will also ask to choose the place of installation of the file. Here, you have to use the pop-up window which has a dropdown on the status bar. So, use the drop-down menu and select the right place for the file in the external hard drive. 
  • Once the file gets saved then install it and after the completion of the installation process using the game launcher to open the game in your external hard drive. 

What if I didn’t get the best place to save the file?

Well, if this situation happens with you that you’re not getting the right place to install the file then you have to create a new one. Let’s see the procedure which helps us below:- 

  • Firstly, you have to cancel the installation and visit the settings section of the Stream. 
  • Find the option of downloads in this section and select the option of “Steam Library folder”. 
  • Now, make a click on “+” and select the option of the external hard drive. Here, you have to select the type of folder which you’re looking for in the game file. Otherwise, create a new folder.
  • At this step, again install the game on your external hard drive and save it in the folder. 


Here I have explained for downloading and installing games from steam. But to install games from other sources the process is still similar. 

First, download the full game files on your PC or Laptop (but I generally save my downloaded games files directly to my external SSD). 

Then move on to the installation and install the game straight to your external SSD. When you asked for a save location during installation select a folder you can name as ”games or my games” in your SSD. 

After full installation, you can launch the game from your SSD whenever you want you to want by just connecting it to your laptop or PC.  

Can you move games that are already installed to an external hard drive?

If you have already saved a game on your computer and you’re confused about whether you can install it on your external hard drive or not?

Well, the answer is “Yes“, you can easily move the pre-installed game into your external hard drive.

Well, this is possible but complicated also. Yes, you can indeed shift the game from your computer to an external drive but it may generate problems while running. Let’s see how you can move games that are already installed to an external hard drive. 

  • Firstly, you have to visit the platform from where you installed the application in the previous external hard drive. We’re taking the example of “Stream” again. 
  • So, click on the option of the stream and let you log in to the application.  
  • Find the option of “Settings” and click on it. Now, click on the option of “Downloads” which starts showing the applications which you have installed from this platform. 
  • Select the game which you want to move by clicking on the option of “Steam library folders” and clicking on the option of “Move”. 
  • At this step, select the folder in which you want to move this application. 

Well, the above step will assure that your selected game will easily be moved to another external hard drive. But, the working of the game depends upon the launching of the game. 

Are there any limitations on which external hard drive you can use?

Well, if you don’t have the right external driver then you’re unable to use any other drive for this purpose. You have to make sure that you’re using the right external driver. Not only this, there is one more limitation which is related to space. 

It is most important that you have the required space so that the games (Heavy in size) can also be operated easily. 

There are some games which cover the total size of 100 GB and that’s why it is most important that you must have the required amount of space. 

So, there are 2 limitations which are 1. Having the right external driver and 2. Having a sufficient storage capacity. 

Other than this, you’ll have the freedom to do anything. There are many drivers which can be used as the right external driver. Most of the external hard drives are easily connected with a USB. 

Nowadays, USB also has various versions like USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB Type-C. You can easily connect accordingly. 

The performance of USB 2.0 is decent, which can be replaced by USB 3.0.  You can also use USB Type-C which is even more effective. 

Here, we solved one limitation and for the storage measures, you can use an SD card and Flashcards. Not only this but the use of an internal hard drive also works. 

A Short Cut:- Another method is to install multiple internal hard drives which facilitate you to get the required amount of storage. Don’t worry it’s safe and doesn’t affect the working of the game in any way. 

Why would someone play from an external hard drive?

Well, the use of an external hard drive to save the game is done because of 2 major reasons. See the content below to know the exact reasons why someone would play from an external hard drive. 

Reason 1:- Portability

If you store your game on an external hard drive such as Flashcard or SD Card then you can easily take your game anywhere. 

If you want to show your game to someone then you have to open the computer, plug in your external hard drive and open the “STREAM” in that computer. 

Yes, you can access your game with saved progress on another computer. This is one of the main reasons by which people store their game external hard drives. 

Reason 2:- Storage

People avoid the storage of gaming in the internal hard drive because of saving storage. Internal hard drive attains a specified amount of storage capacity and no one wants to fill it with heavy gaming storage. 

So, the use of an External hard drive saves your internal hard drive storage and your computer will run smoothly. 

So, these are the 2 major reasons by which you should use an external hard drive for gaming. 

Are there any reasons to not play games from an external hard drive?

Well, there is one major reason which should be considered before going to play the game from an external hard drive.

To get the best gaming experience you have to connect hard drives directly to the motherboard with the help of PCI connectors. This will provide you with the best among all gaming experiences. 

We have tried to match the level of gaming experience from Different types of drives like USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB Type-C also. 

The best gaming experience provider (USB Type-C) is also less effective as compared to the PCI connectors. 

So, if you want to engage with the supreme gaming experience then the use of external hard drives is less effective. 

Well, they’re also good. You experience an impressive level of gaming experience from it but comparatively less than PCI connectors.

This is not a limitation or drawback but it’s just a fact. You’ll enjoy several other benefits of using an external hard drive also. 

To solve this problem, try playing your game through an external hard drive. If you experience it quite well then it’s ok otherwise shift to PCI connection. 

Do Games Run Slower On An External Hard Drive

Well, it is a debatable question because the exact answer to this question depends upon the use of an external hard drive which you are taking in use. 

If you use USB 2.0 (An older version of USB) and may play a heavy game then it will generate problems in gaming and you may face slow working. 

If you use a USB 3.0 external hard drive then it will be faster than the previous one and provide you impressive gaming performance (Except I open-world gaming). 

The use of USB Type-C provides you with the best gaming experience especially if you’re playing open-world gaming. 

Availability of specs is also a very important measure that decides the level of speed in the external hard drives. 

This relates to the speed of your external hard drives. So, if the speed of your External hard drive is low your game will work slow as compared to your HDD. 

In Short

So, we can say that the “Yes” game may run slower on the External Hard drive but only if the version of the external hard drive is older and the speed is low. Otherwise, you’ll experience a great level of gaming experience in it.  

But according to my experience when I play games on my Asus Tuf A15 gaming laptop from Seagate 1TB external SSD I didn’t face any problems like lagging, slowness, or any graphics problem. So if you like you can check out these excellent gaming gadgets.

For gaming which one is good external SSD OR HDD

When we compare the external SSD and External HDD on normal gaming then we find that the level of speed provided by the External SSD is impressive as compared to External HDD. 

One of the major differences which I have noticed is game loading time. External SSDs loads game much faster than external HDD.

And by the way, HDDs are now going out of the market very soon so it is better to opt for SSDs. 

You use these excellent external SSDs which I purchase from Amazon and still using it. 

We can conclude that the Speed of the disk of External SSD is higher as compared to HDD. Well, the speed of the disk is not a major determination that decides which is better (SSD or HDD). When we’re talking about open-world gaming then the performance of show differences. 

HDDs have comparatively slower disk speed so when you play open-world gaming then you face a slight difference in the loading of new things in the open world. Whereas, with the use of an SSD external drive this will be faster as compared to HDD. 

Important things to know before you use the external hard drive for gaming

There are some most important things which you should know especially if you’re a newbie. 

  • Your game will get stopped or crash if you disconnect your external hard drive. So, you have to make sure that the hard drive which you connected with your desktop is connected properly. You don’t have to give any reason so that your hard drive will get disconnected from your computer. This will stop or crash your in-going game. 
  • Be with your external hard drive so that it will work properly. All the files which are required to run the game properly are stored in your file. So, you have to be available with your external hard drive so that the game will work properly. 
  • It may be possible that your external hard drive may load through a different letter. So, if you have the shortcuts then it is also possible the game will even work properly. 
  • The availability of more support for the user who installs games on External hard drives. There are plenty of platforms (Like Stream) that help to manage the configurations regarding the gaming into the external hard drives. So, it’s become easier to play games via external hard drives. 

In case the External hard drive stops working you have to reinstall the game. Not only this but the progress which you saved in the game will also get lost.

To tackle this incident you should make a backup of your data (Game data) at the specified time. So, you can easily retain your game progress if the external hard drive stops working.

What We Conclude

We have concluded that there are not any high-level differences between both of them. The performance of both the External drives provides almost equal levels of performance. 

The performance of gaming depends upon the graphic card. So, a good graphic card will automatically provide you with a high level of gaming.

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Tanmoy Misra found his love for tech early in life when he got his first Nintendo (NES) console. He spent many hours blowing into cartridges to no avail until inspiration struck and he started taking apart and rebuilding anything that didn’t work. After dropping console gaming at the end of high school, Tanmoy entered the world of PC online gaming. His love of gaming and problem-solving soon led him to build his computers. As per expertise, he is an ISF-certified video calibrator and covering AV for a number of publications since 2018.

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