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How to Free Up Space on Your Xbox Series S Without Deleting Games

The Xbox Series S offers next-gen gaming performance at an affordable $299 price point. With its slim, all-digital design, the Xbox Series S is an attractive option for gamers with limited space or restrictive budgets.

However, the cost savings of the Series S come with one major compromise – its 512GB SSD storage capacity. After accounting for the operating system and reserved space, only 364GB of storage is actually available for game installs and save data. With many modern games exceeding 100GB in size with updates, storage space quickly becomes limited on the Series S.

Fear not! There are several ways to free up storage space on your Xbox Series S without resorting to deleting your favorite games. This guide will provide tips and tricks to effectively manage the SSD space and ensure you can keep gaming on the Series S.

An Overview of Storage Options for the Xbox Series S

Before diving into specific techniques to free up storage, let‘s briefly examine the storage capabilities and expansion options available for the Xbox Series S:

  • Internal SSD – 512GB total capacity, 364GB usable. Proprietary storage technology with ultra-fast load times.

  • External USB Drives – Ability to connect external USB hard drives to store Xbox One, 360, and original Xbox games. Slow load times but useful for infrequently played games.

  • Xbox Storage Expansion Cards – Special SSD cards that connect to the rear expansion slot to add 1TB or 2TB of extra space. Match internal SSD speeds but expensive.

Storage OptionCapacityLoad TimesPrice
Internal SSD364GB usableUltra-FastN/A
External USBUp to 16TBSlow$$
Expansion Card1TB, 2TBUltra-Fast$$$

How to Free Up Space on the Internal SSD

Let‘s review some of the top techniques for freeing up the precious internal SSD space on your Xbox Series S:

Remove Leftover Add-Ons

When you uninstall a game, it sometimes leaves behind add-ons, bonus content, or other vestiges that continue occupying space. To remove these leftovers:

  1. Open My Games & Apps
  2. Navigate to Manage > Free Up Space
  3. Select Unused Add-Ons
  4. Delete any unwanted add-ons

This can recover GBs of storage from games you no longer play.

Shrink Select Games

Certain Xbox titles allow you to "shrink" the game to recover anywhere from 10 to 30 GBs per game.

To shrink games:

  1. Go to Manage > Free Up Space
  2. Choose Shrinkable Games tab
  3. Select which installs to shrink
  4. Hit Shrink All to recover space!

Shrinking reduces resolution of textures/videos but doesn‘t affect gameplay.

Uninstall Old Games

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best – take inventory of your installed games and remove any you haven‘t played for months or years. Recover up to 100GB per game!

Delete Apps and Packs

Check your installed apps and delete any non-gaming apps you no longer use. Also browse your game add-ons for high-resolution texture packs, multiplayer packs, or 4K cinematics you can delete to save space.

Clear Temporary Files

You can often gain back 1-3GB by clearing your temporary download files and caches:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select System > Storage
  3. Press Clear temporary files

Every little bit counts when trying to free up room on the Series S!

Offload Games to External USB Drives

One popular solution is to invest in an external USB hard drive to expand your overall storage pool. When connected, the Xbox will treat the external drive as extended storage.

Benefits of using external USB drives:

  • Let‘s you install and run Xbox One, 360, and original Xbox games off the external device
  • Significantly cheaper than the expansion cards (see prices above)
  • External drives come in large capacities up to 16TB

The downsides are longer load times given the slower HDD technology compared to the internal SSD.

But for older titles or games you rarely play, storing them externally can quickly free up dozens or hundreds of GBs of your Series S internal storage.

Play Games Via the Cloud

For select Xbox Game Pass titles, you can stream games directly over the cloud rather than downloading them locally.

Cloud gaming allows you to experience the game without occupying your precious SSD real estate. Granted, your internet connection and latency will impact stream performance.

But for single-player story games, cloud gaming lets you play without waiting hours for a large install. Cloud gaming works on Xbox consoles, PCs, phones, and tablets.

Strategically download Game Modes

On some larger games, you can selectively install game modes rather than the full install.

For example, blockbuster titles like Call of Duty or Gears 5 may allow you to download just the single-player campaign or multiplayer modes individually.

Review which game modes you actually play and purge the ones you don‘t to avoid wasting SSD space. Only keep modes you plan to play in the near future.

Take Advantage of Disc Drives on Other Consoles

If you own additional game consoles, you can shift Xbox games you own physically over to those devices.

For example, install and run Xbox games using the disc drive on:

  • Xbox One S/X
  • Xbox 360
  • PlayStation 4/5

This allows your Series S SSD to focus on next-gen only titles.

Adjust Xbox Settings to Optimize Storage

You can also adjust some Xbox settings to optimize your storage:

  • Set your external drive as the default install location for new games
  • Disable capturing 4K clips and screenshots to use less space
  • Change power mode to fully shut down rather than sleep to clear more memory
  • Disable high-resolution texture packs for applicable games

Every little adjustment helps maximize available space!

Xbox Storage Expansion Cards

Microsoft sells proprietary 1TB and 2TB expansion cards that provide extended storage identical in speed and performance to the internal SSD.

The obvious downside is the very steep pricing, ranging from $220 to $400 respectively. But for power users who want ultra-fast access to a huge game library, the expansion cards are a simple option.

Summary of Key Storage Management Tips

Here is a quick recap of the best ways to free up storage on your Xbox Series S:

Remove Leftover Add-OnsClear GBs of hidden junkOne-time space recovery
Shrink GamesReduce install sizes 10-30GBMinor graphical downgrade
Delete Old GamesRecover up to 100GB per gameLose access to games
Store Games on USBFree up internal SSDSlower load times
Cloud GamingPrevents local installRequires fast internet
Install Select Game ModesAvoid unused modesJuggling installs/uninstalls
Leverage Disc DrivesKeep discs games off Series SNeed other consoles
Adjust Xbox SettingsOptimize captures, textures, etcSmall incremental gains
Buy Expansion CardSimple plug-and-playVery expensive

Hopefully the tips provided give you some ideas on how to keep your Series S storage free of clutter even as your game library grows. Let us know if you have any other creative suggestions for managing storage!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.