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How to Get Free Storage on Your Xbox One

If you‘re an avid Xbox gamer, you know how frustrating it can be when you run out of storage space. There‘s nothing worse than having to delete old games just to make room for new ones. But before you shell out cash for an external hard drive, try these tips to get more storage for free!

Delete Old Games You Don‘t Play

This may seem obvious, but take a look at all the games you have installed. Are there some you haven‘t touched in months or even years? Uninstall games you know you‘ll never play again.

Here‘s how:

  1. Press the Xbox button on your controller to open the guide.
  2. Select My games & apps > See all.
  3. Choose the game you want to uninstall and press the Menu button.
  4. Select Uninstall.

Deleting old games can free up a surprising amount of space. For example, if you delete 5 games that are 50GB each, you just freed up 250GB!

Offload Games to the Cloud

Thanks to cloud saving, you can remove games from your Xbox‘s internal drive without losing progress. When you offload a game, its files are deleted locally but your save data is stored in the cloud.

To offload games:

  1. Go to Settings > System > Storage.
  2. Select your internal drive, then click "Transfer."
  3. Choose the games to offload and pick "Cloud."
  4. When you want to play the game again, just reinstall it and the save will sync from the cloud!

Offloading to the cloud means you keep your progress but free up storage space. It‘s the best of both worlds!

Use a USB Flash Drive for Media

Did you know you can use a USB flash drive to store media files separately from your games and apps?

Moving items like music, videos, and screenshots to a flash drive means more space for games on your console‘s internal drive.

To set it up:

  1. Plug in a USB flash drive (needs to be USB 3.0 and 256GB or larger).
  2. Go to Settings > System > Storage.
  3. Select the flash drive and pick "Format for media."
  4. After formatting, select "Transfer" to move files over.

A 256GB flash drive can store around 100 movies or 50,000 songs! And media plays directly from the drive so you don‘t need to waste internal storage.

Add an External Hard Drive

Adding external storage lets you dramatically expand the storage capacity of your Xbox One.

For an external drive to work, it must:

  • Connect via USB 3.0
  • Be 256GB or larger
  • Have its own power source

Once set up, an external drive functions just like the internal drive. You can install and play games without issue.

Here are the steps to add and format an external drive:

  1. Plug in the drive and connect it to a USB port on your Xbox.
  2. Follow the on-screen prompts to format the drive.
  3. After formatting, the drive will appear as additional storage.
  4. Go to My games & apps > See all and transfer games over.

External hard drives are affordable these days. A 4TB drive provides tons of extra space for less than $100.

Comparison of Xbox Storage Options

Storage MethodCapacityCostBenefits
Delete old gamesVariesFreeQuick and easy
Cloud storageUnlimitedFree (with Xbox Live)Preserves game saves
USB flash drive16GB – 1TB$10 – $100Separate media storage
External HDD500GB – 8TB$40 – $150Massive extra capacity

How Much Storage Do You Really Need?

So how much extra storage should you add to your Xbox One? Here are some guidelines based on your gaming habits.

Casual gamers – Like to play online shooters and racing games. Aim for 500GB – 1TB extra storage.

Avid gamers – Play for 5+ hours per week. Look for 2TB or more of extra capacity.

Power gamers – Game every day for long sessions. Get the highest capacity drive you can afford. At least 4TB is recommended.

Game collectors – Want your entire 100+ game library installed and ready to play. Invest in the maximum 8TB external drive.

To figure out your personal need, take a look at your current usage under Settings > System > Storage. See how full your drive is and the average size of installed games. This will give you a ballpark estimate of your ideal storage upgrade.

Xbox Storage Continues to Increase

Back when the Xbox One first launched in 2013, its 500GB hard drive seemed pretty spacious. But as game file sizes ballooned over 50GB, that space got used up fast.

According to gaming industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, the average Xbox One and PlayStation 4 game size grew from around 10GB at launch to over 40GB by the end of the console generation.

Some key stats on the growth of game file sizes last generation:

  • In 2013 the average game size was 11GB (Xbox One/PS4 launch year).
  • By 2015 the average reached 35GB.
  • In 2019 it surpassed 45GB per game.
  • For Xbox exclusive titles in 2020, the average was 51GB.

This upward trend is likely to continue as games grow more complex and incorporate 4K assets. So investing in ample storage today will future-proof your Xbox One as even bigger games release.

Tips to Manage a Full Hard Drive

If your Xbox One hard drive is already full, don‘t panic. You can still eke out more space using these tricks:

Run the disc, not the installation – With physical games you can play off the disc rather than installing. This saves hard drive room at the cost of longer load times.

Uninstall campaign modes – Once you finish the single player story, remove the campaign portion to conserve GBs.

Delete DLC you don’t use – Remove any add-on content for games you’ve stopped playing.

Clear the cache – Go to Settings > Blu-ray > Persistent storage > Clear persistent storage to wipe the cache.

Disable startup apps – Apps like Twitch broadcasting can run in the background. Disable ones you don‘t use.

Store screenshots in the cloud – Configure your Xbox to upload captures to the cloud instead of locally.

Remove idle games – if you haven’t played a game in months, it’s just wasting space.


Running out of storage on your Xbox One doesn‘t mean you‘re forced to buy an expensive external drive right now. There are many ways to free up space for the short term, whether it‘s deleting games, offloading to the cloud, or moving media files to a flash drive.

But for a more permanent solution, expanding with an external HDD or SSD is ideal. Prices are reasonable and you can get models with up to 8TB of capacity. That‘s enough storage to keep your entire game library installed and ready to play!

With the right strategies, you can get all the storage you need on your Xbox One without spending a dime. Follow these tips and you‘ll keep your games and never see that dreaded "out of space" message again. Game on!



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