How to Connect an External Hard Drive to a TV

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Updated September 30, 2022

If you are building the ultimate home entertainment setup, you may wonder how to connect an external hard drive to a TV. The best TVs, after all, typically integrate with external hard drives, USB drives, and more. But why would you want to connect an external drive to a television, and how to do it? Keep reading to find out.


  • Using an external hard drive or a USB drive with a TV allows you to access all of the movies and content stored within the drive.
  • Most modern TVs feature a USB port or two, which is the perfect place to plug in external drives or a USB device.
  • If you are a Mac user, be sure to format the drive to the NTFS storage format before using it with a Samsung TV or just about any other model.

Why Connect an External HD to a Television?

The primary reason to connect an external drive to a modern TV is to access the contents of said drive. Hard drives are huge and can easily contain hundreds, if not thousands, of movies and television shows. While you’re at it, you can check out the best TV accessories that will help with a variety of needs, like a shelf to put the external hard drive so it won’t get messed up.

Insider Tip

Not all file types will play on every TV, so you may have to utilize a utility of some type to make all content playable.

How to Play Movies From External Hard Drive on TV

This process varies according to the make and model of your television, though it is fairly simple when compared to, say, learning how to connect a VCR to a TV. We have tried to keep these steps as universal as possible, so they should work if you have an older television or the newest and best smart TV available.

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 5 to 10 minutes
  • Tools: TV, external HD, USB cable
  • Steps: 3

STEP 1 Check Out Your Options

  1. The easiest way to do this is if your TV includes a USB port, which is fairly standard across modern models. Check the back of the TV for USB ports.
  2. If your TV has some available USB ports, that frees you up to use a standard external hard drive via USB cable or simply plug in a USB thumb drive.
  3. Some TVs only support hard drives up to specific sizes, typically 2TB or 4TB, so check the instructions before buying a new HD.

STEP 2 Format the Drive

  1. If you are connecting the drive directly after opening it, you’ll have no issues, as most TVs use the NTFS standard, which is the same standard used by the Windows operating system.
  2. The same goes for Windows users. Just plug-and-play. If you use a Mac, however, format the drive to the NTFS format before beginning.

STEP 3 Connect and Browse

  1. Once formatted, plug the hard drive into one of the TV’s USB slots.
  2. You should be able to browse through files using the TV’s built-in file browser, though you may have to navigate settings to find it.


How to format external hard drives for Samsung Smart TVs easily?

Any USB device or USB drive should be compatible with Samsung smart TVs, though may require reformatting to the preferred NTFS format.

Does my TV support HDD recording?

This depends on your individual TV, so check the instructions. It should give you a list of appropriate file formats and file systems for recording.

Is the HDD properly connected and turned on?

One simple troubleshooting step is to ensure that any external drives are powered on and properly connected, no matter if you are using an Android TV or some other model.

STAT: The basis for USB flash drives is flash memory, a type of floating-gate semiconductor memory invented by Fujio Masuoka in the early 1980s. (source)

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