The launch of the next generation of consoles has underscored how precious storage space is. Games are getting bigger, and yet the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles don’t offer a whole lot of room. Most confusing is the PS5’s mysterious allocation of up to a sixth of its supposedly available SSD—potentially more than 100GB—to a category called “Other.”
We’ve been vexed by Other for weeks.
Of the 825GB of SSD storage listed on the box, you can only use 667.2GB how you please. That’s not that shocking, since we’re used to consoles allocating some of their advertised space to the operating system and other key functions.
From there, the usable 667GB is broken down into four categories. Three of those (Games and Apps, Media Gallery, and Saved Data) are unambiguous. Then there’s Other.
If you’ve been lucky enough to track down a PS5, maybe you’ve also found yourself flummoxed by the system’s Other storage, wondering why the number mysteriously increases and what it means. We at Kotaku sure have. Some of us have seen that field occupy around 40GB or more, for no good reason. In the worst case, following a download of the new Reagan fever-dream (Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War, obviously), one colleague’s Other storage ballooned to more than 121GB! What gives?
Officially, Other is earmarked “for system data needed for games and apps to work properly.” How much space it takes up is dependent “on how your console is being used.” Noted. But beyond the console’s frustratingly vague script, we’ve found that game files have an undeniable effect on the number. When you download new games, Other goes up. Delete those same games, and it goes down. Moving games to an external storage device seems to drive it down, too. (Kotaku has been asking Sony about how Other storage space is allocated since November 16, and a rep has only been able to tell us that they’re looking into it.)
Some coverage of this issue has included reports that downloading PlayStation 4 games causes Other to grow. In our testing, backward-compatible PS4 games used up far more space in Other than native PS5 games do. That space was in addition to the space they took in “Games and Apps.” To quantify things, PS4 games appear to demand anywhere from 15 to 25 percent extra storage space in Other beyond what’s listed on paper as the official. Some examples:
- Downloading God of War, a 45GB PS4 game, caused my Other storage to swell by 9GB.
- Moving the 61GB PS4 game Doom Eternal from an external hard-drive to my PS5’s internal solid-state drive increased the Other line by 12GB.
- Deleting Marvel’s Avengers’ 61GB of spandex-wrapped PS4 loot grind shrunk my Other by 11GB.
- When Kotaku EIC Stephen Totilo deleted the 75GB PS4 game Ghost Recon Breakpoint from his PS5, the Other field shrunk by 15GB.
- Similar ratios resulted for other PS4 games on both of our consoles—including Star Wars: Squadrons, Persona 5, Ghostrunner, Cities: Skylines, Genshin Impact, Doom Eternal, Ghost of Tsushima, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt—whether they were added or cut.
Deleting or re-downloading PS5 games did not have the same impact on Other. When I played around with adding or erasing Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Godfall, Bugsnax, Demon’s Souls, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition, Astro’s Playroom, and Borderlands 3 from my PS5, none of those PS5 games caused the Other figure to shift by more than 1GB each. Same as with PS4 games, installing games caused the figure to go up, while deleting them ticked it down. There were two notable exceptions: Installing Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition caused my Other to decrease, from 60.7GB to 58.1GB. Downloading Sackboy: A Big Adventure shrunk it further, to 57.2GB.
Those two games didn’t trigger the only oddities. Deleting six clips of 4K video—every second of which was internally captured—amounting to a total of 14GB caused my Other storage to go up by about 4GB, from 12GB to 16.2GB. (Note that the PS5’s storage readout already has a separate line for captures: the Media Gallery. That shrunk from 17.8GB to 3.1GB after I cleared all that video.) What’s more, after wiping my console completely clean of all games and unplugging my external storage device, the Games and Apps line still had 1.1GB left. (After doing the same thing, Stephen had just 36MB left. Not quite a whole gigabyte, but not nothing either.) Meanwhile, Other still occupied more than 16GB. When Stephen wiped his drive of all games and apps, Other clocked in at nearly 76GB. Ouch.
Whatever this all amounts to, one thing’s certain: The Other line item doesn’t make much sense.
So, what does this mean for you, if you have a PS5? Short of deleting every single game from your SSD—obviously not ideal—how do you reduce your Other storage to a manageable level?
The easiest thing to do is to pick up a PS5-compatible external storage device, and then save all of your PS4 games externally. (You’ll find a step-by-step guide for doing so in this post about managing your PS5’s internal storage.) PS5 games seem to have a negligible impact on the Other storage—a gigabyte here, a gigabyte there. You needn’t worry about those. You couldn’t download enough PS5 games to take up as much Other space as one Witcher- or Avengers-sized PS4 game would. PS4 games are the real space-hogs.
Sure, when you run a game off an external storage device, you won’t get the benefits you’d get from running it off the PS5 directly. Since the PS5’s internal storage is a solid-state drive, you can load games faster and see other performance boosts. Still, it’ll save you some room. When you’re dealing with less than 700GB of internal storage—a chunk of which eludes explanation while nonetheless devouring a significant amount of your space—it’s a choice you’ll have to weigh, just one more quandary facing new PS5 owners trying to make the most of their new system.
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)