Image of an SSD by NFT Car Girl

Modern PC games are becoming ridiculously larger to install. I understand that improved 3D visuals and better programming require more memory to be utilized, but 100GB of minimum free space for Final Fantasy XV just seems TOO much for me.

Regardless of our opinions, big memory storage for triple-A (AAA) titles are here to stay, so where do we install huge games like these on our PC?

Well, here are a few common options for us to consider:

  • internal storage drive (HDD/ SSD)
  • external storage drive (HDD/ SSD)
  • flash drive
  • a dedicated gaming server (network/ cloud)

All these are fairly simple to use and set up, especially for everyday gamers. We don’t even need a gaming PC to play the most graphics-intensive games anymore, which is both cost-effective and convenient.

Regardless, one thing that we can’t change is that PC games will always need to be installed on a system before we can play them. Here are how all the storage alternatives above fare in terms of doing so:

Internal storage drive (HDD/ SSD)

An internal storage drive is a primary component that stores all our installed PC programs, including video games. Throughout the years, there have been two different forms of the internal storage drive, each being the ageless hard disk drive (HDD) and proven solid-state drive (SSD).

Both have their distinct benefits for the right person, especially when it comes to usability and price. The HDD is undeniably cheaper, but the SSD is significantly faster and lighter.

External storage drive (HDD/ SSD)

As its name suggests, an external storage drive is a device that saves all our computer files and installed apps outside of the PC. Again, an HDD or SSD is used in this regard, but they are now connected to our computer via a USB port instead.

External drives are useful for transferring files between different PCs. Furthermore, video games can also be installed onto them, allowing us to play our favorite games on other PCs without taking up limited internal memory for a fresh install.

USB flash drive

Believe it or not, a USB flash drive – a.k.a. thumb drive – can also be used to run PC games on the fly! This small, lightweight device that we normally use to save worksheets and assignments is surprisingly capable of running games that are installed onto it as well.

However, due to its slower data write speed, installing video games can be a MAJOR PAIN (extremely slow). Another downside is that gaming performance varies from one game to another, and inconsistent frame rates/ stutters can become frequent for some high-end games.

I guess we better stick to installing classic games and emulators, then.

Dedicated server (network/ cloud)

When we play online games, some of our game documents – including save files – are copied over to the nearest game server located all around the world. Thing is, a game server is not only capable of storing gamers’ data files securely, but it can also be used to install PC games for everyone to play together too!

A server is essentially a superior computer equipped with more capacity to utilize its hardware for multiple simultaneous users. When slotted with the perfect gaming hardware, PC games can also be installed onto its memory bank, allowing anyone connected to it to access the games as well.

Which Drive Should I Install PC Games On?

Normally, during a game installation, we will always be prompted to install the game on the C drive (C:) where other program files are kept too. Still, we can always choose to install the game on other existing partitions, like the D drive (D:) or E drive (E:).

If that’s the case, which drive is best suited for the installation of PC video games?

Ideally, installing video games on a separate drive (drive D, drive E, drive F, etc.) that is specifically created for gaming-related activities is preferred. Installing games on the C drive is still fine if it has more than 1TB of memory space available, but there are slight risks that come with it, especially in the long run.

All system files are installed on the C drive, making it a priority drive, among other things. By installing video games on it too, its processing load becomes heavier, usually culminating in slower app performances, loading times, and loud noises. To be fair, this mainly affects HDDs because of their mechanical parts, leading to regular disk defragmentation to be done.

By installing games on a separate drive instead, we help lessen the load on drive C, allowing better access to data resources. In the case of an important resource file being damaged/ corrupted, the respective drive can become affected, disrupting other apps installed on it. If this happens, at least our installed games are safe on another drive that is ready for use.

By keeping game files on a different drive, we can manage installed programs and their folders better. This is especially true when it comes to video game modding, making it easier for us to discern the respective folders involved throughout the process. Game installs for certain video game programs like PC Game Pass can be quite confusing, so it’s advisable to create a special drive for video games instead.

The most essential part of installing games on a different drive, though, is memory space. Today, popular games like Call of Duty: Warzone require more than 100GB of free memory to be installed on a PC. Even if we have a 1TB SSD in place, one AAA game alone can already take up more than 10% of the total memory space available, and this doesn’t include other apps and programs yet.

Should I Install PC Games on an SSD or HDD?

When it comes to the best storage device for video games, two options are commonly available for us to purchase from the market: an HDD or SSD. Between these two, which is the better alternative?

In terms of gaming, an SSD is far better than an HDD because it offers fast read/ write data speeds, is extremely portable, and lasts for longer. SSDs are quickly replacing HDDs in modern-day PCs, though HDDs are still sold as the cheaper alternative for certain buyers.

Nowadays, almost everyone has at least one SSD or HDD that is used for storing important data and files. For hardcore gamers, we usually have a few, and one is specifically used for saving/ installing video games while the others are kept for other purposes.

Depending on our budget and needs, the choice between buying an SSD or HDD usually revolves around what each brings to the table:

SSD

 

ProsCons
+ Fast transfer speed
+ Very light
+ Minimal noise
– Expensive
– Hard to recover data if damaged

HDD

 

ProsCons
+ Budget-friendly
+ Easy data recovery
+ Compatible with older computers
– Fragile mechanical components
– Slow data transfer
– Slightly noisy

With physical game copies now becoming rarer by the day, the use of an SSD trumps an HDD every time. That being said, the PC gaming community is vast, and there are always people who benefit more from cheaper devices like an HDD.

As such, when it comes to installing video games, both are viable for the right individual, albeit budgetary concerns. Still, many PC games are surprisingly smaller in size compared to console games, so in my opinion, storage isn’t a problem at all here, regardless of which type of drive we opt for.

Is an Internal or External Drive Better for PC Games?

I used to wonder whether an internal or external drive is better for installing PC games. Well, after hearing many people’s opinions, fact-checking via the Internet, and based on personal experience, I now have my personal view on the matter.

Installing video games on an internal drive is better for quicker loading times and smoother gaming experiences, allowing the CPU to access the games’ resources directly. For many desktop gamers, this is the most preferred choice.

An external drive is great for on-the-go gamers who alternate gaming between a few different PCs or laptops, and those that play games in-between work. This helps keep important work documents and files separate from video games, limiting issues that might affect both.

Some gamers still don’t know that PC games can be run from an external hard drive, so this can be a good eye-opener for them. If your internal drive’s storage maxes out frequently, whether due to work-related files or large video game downloads, it might be time for you to consider installing games on an external drive instead.

We’ve already established that PC games can also be installed on a flash drive, so installing games outside of the computer shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Even an SD card can be used to install games too, though not all gaming PCs support one. It’s just a matter of finding out which one fits us the most.

Can I Install PC Games on a Cloud?

Cloud gaming is among the newest video game technologies that are available to us right now. Letting us play games without needing to install them on PCs, cloud gaming could very well become the future of video games in general. So, can we install our most desired games on a cloud server?

No, as normal users, we can’t install video games on a cloud server. Instead, we can either download a game’s installer that has been saved on the cloud or subscribe to cloud-gaming services to play games without installing them on our PCs. 

By choosing cloud gaming, we don’t need to prepare huge amounts of memory space for video games anymore, overcoming the long installation times that usually come with it. Furthermore, depending on what type of cloud-gaming service that we opt for, we don’t need a monstrous gaming PC to play the most gorgeous games on our systems too, essentially streaming them just like we do for movies on Netflix.

Nevertheless, the most important requirement of cloud gaming is our Internet bandwidth/ connection speed. For gamers in regions with unstable Internet connections/ latencies, it is recommended to play PC games from an external DVD drive instead, if limited computer storage becomes a problem.

Although a bad Internet connection hampers the cloud gaming experience for services like Xbox’s PC Game Pass, we can still save our in-game progress on the cloud, ensuring that our game files and progress are stored securely on a remote cloud server. This is extremely useful because we will never lose all our gaming progress across multiple video games in the case of virus attacks or real-world disasters, letting us continue our gaming adventures whenever, wherever.

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