Your computer only has so much space on it's hard drive. If you are a gamer and started running out of space, then you've probably asked the question: can I run my games off an external hard drive. The answer is it depends on the game but for the most part it is yes. There is some trail and error stuff. There are also some limitations.

This guide will cover how to install games to an external hard drive, the pros and cons of having the games on an external hard drive, and what type of an external hard drive you need.

Type of External Hard Drive


You will need an external hard drive that uses usb 3.0 and has at least 7200 RPM. I personal used the BUFFALO DriveStation Axis 3 TB USB 3.0. It cost $143.99 currently on amazon.

Installing the Games

Steam makes it easy to install games on an external hard drive.

  • Have steam installed
  • Create a folder called Steam on your external hard drive
  • In Steam go to Settings. Click the Downloads Tab.
  • Click Steam Library Folders
  • Click Add Library Folders and Select the Steam Folder you created on your external hard drive
  • In Steam Right Click on the Game you want to install. The game will give you an option as to where you want to install it choose on your external steam folder.
  • Test game after it is install*
    *Not all games can run off external hard drives: I couldn't get Saints Row 2, 3, Just Cause 2, and Natural Selection 2 to run off it.

    Origin is a bain but if you have Mass Effect 3 on PC you use it. Note: Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2 won't work on External so don't install them to external. I personally tested to see if they could but was unable to.
  • Create a file on your external called origin games
  • In Origin go to application settings.
  • Select Advanced
  • Under Downloaded Games you will see a sentence under it that says "Your games will be installed to the following location:"
  • Select Change. Set it to the origin games folder you created on your external game
  • Install game and test it.
    I have installed and played Mass Effect 1 to 3 successful on external hard drive.

    With other games that don't use steam or origin just make sure to point them to your external hard drive when you are installing them.

    Pros and Cons

    The pros are that for the most part you won't have to worry about space as much and you'll be able to play most games off your external hard drive. There was no lag or shuttering in the games. It was as if the games where still on the computer. Most mods for games like skyrim, and fallout 3 can be installed & run on external hard drive.

    The cons: there are some games that you just won't be able to get to run on your external hard drive. Some mods for games won't be able to install to your external hard drive such as Goldeneye Source.

    Trail and Error

    It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to run games on external because there wasn't really a clear guide on how to do it. It was an experiment that turned out to work for the most part. I hope you find this guide useful. The following is a list of games I have installed and played successfully on the external hard drive:
  • Alan Wake
  • Alan Wake's American Nightmare
  • Bastion
  • Batman Arkham Asylum
  • Batman Arkham City
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Borderlands 2
  • Braid
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Counter-Strike: Source
  • Dark Souls: Prepare to Die
  • DC Universe Online
  • Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution - The missing link
  • Dota 2
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • F.E.A.R. , F.E.A.R. 2, F.E.A.R. 3
  • Fallout 3
  • Fallout New Vegas
  • Garry's Mod
  • Hawken
  • Half Life 2, Deathmatch, Episode One, Episode Two, Lost Coast
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Just Cause 2
  • L.A. Noire
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3
  • Max Payne 3
  • Metro 2033
  • Metro: Last Light
  • Painkiller: Black Edition
  • Portal, Portal 2
  • RAGE
  • Civilization V
  • Specs Op: The Line
  • Knights of the Old Republic , Knights of the Old Republic II
  • System Shock 2
  • Tomb Raider
  • The Walking Dead
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown