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Sony's PS5 April update adds new external storage options

A fix has arrived for the PlayStation 5's storage woes.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Running out of room on your PS5? A fix is finally coming. On Tuesday Sony revealed that its April software update will add the ability to store games on external USB drives. 

Sony says the new update, announced in a blog post, will begin "rolling out globally tomorrow." While games can be stored on external storage, the company notes that you can't actually play PlayStation 5 games off of external drives. Instead, it envisions this as a quicker way to hot-swap games on the PS5's built-in solid-state drive.

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"It is faster to reinstall PS5 games from USB extended storage than to re-download or copy them from a disc," Hideaki Nishino, PlayStation's senior vice president of platform planning and management, writes in the post. "Because PS5 games are designed to take advantage of the console's ultra high-speed SSD, PS5 titles can't be played from USB extended storage."

Nishino adds that while "PS5 titles also cannot be directly downloaded to USB extended storage" the "games that you transfer or copy back to internal storage will automatically update when applicable."

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Sony's newest console ships with an 825GB SSD, but only around 667GB is actually available to users. With games quickly getting larger in size, gamers can quickly find themselves running out of space with only a few titles on their console. 

Microsoft's Xbox Series X has a 1TB SSD while the Series S sports a 512GB. As with the PS5, Microsoft's consoles don't make all of that storage available to users, but the company does have a special "Storage Expansion" slot in the back for easily adding additional space. This (pricey) option mimics the speedy internal storage and allows for not only storing but also playing games, including next-gen titles designed for the Series X or Series S, off the external drive. 

You can also use a traditional USB-connected external hard drive or SSD, but as with the PS5, you won't be able to play next-gen games off of that storage. 

Other new features in the April update include the ability to predownload game updates automatically and "cross-generation Share Play" that will allow those on a PS5 to share their screens with friends on PS4. Sony adds that this includes the ability for those on PS4 to be able to "try out the PS5 games through Share Play" by virtually passing your controller or playing a co-op game together.