As your digital library continues to grow, storing all of those goods becomes a concern. The default hard drives that ship with the Xbox One and PS4 are a fine start, but an average user is likely to need some more room, especially when you consider that the 500GB Xbox One hard drive, for example, has only 364GB of actual usable space. Some games take up 40GB+ on their own, so yeah, you’re going to need to expand unless you want to regularly download/delete/reinstall games on your system.
Fortunately for this console generation, expansion via hard drive was a given, so both Microsoft and Sony made it easy to expand your digital footprint by using the system’s USB 3.0 ports. And with hard drive prices routinely falling as bigger and faster drives are produced, it’s a great time to give your content plenty of breathing room.
Unlike many tech purchases (buying the “right” TV has never been more insane), deciding on a hard drive for your console is pretty simple. Storage size and speed are obviously key, but something else you’re bound to consider are seemingly mundane practical things, like placing and powering the drive itself on your shelf or entertainment center. You could go with the popular WD MyBook series, which is a small, quiet external drive that is powered via USB, but it understandably wasn’t developed with videogame consoles in mind, including in terms of its appearance. Or, if you’re like me and you prefer a more geek route or just have some old 3.5″ internal hard drives around — you might want get something like Nyko’s Data Bank.
When I first saw the Data Bank I was impressed and pleased with how it mimics the design of the Xbox One. The Xbox One is not a very attractive system to begin with, although it does standout. You could argue either way that the Data Bank makes it look better or worse — but it at least fits the design of the Xbox One smoothly, right down to the air vent design on the side. The Nyko logo is apparent, yet subdued, I would say it’s actually more subdued or hidden than what the stock image suggests. Regardless, for those with their systems out in the open or who are otherwise at all concerned about appearance, the Data Bank looks far superior to any USB drive.
Appearance is fairly important, but only accounts for a fraction of what consumers are looking for. Moving beyond how it looks, I sliced a few pieces of tape to open up one of the sides of the retail packaging and removed the full size tray which contained everything the Data Bank ships with. Inside you’ll discover the Data Bank, a nice foldout manual with large, detailed pictures and text, the power supply, and, what’s this, a 2″ block of rubber foam? Wisely, Nyko placed the foam piece in a small box and made it very clear that it’s not meant to be thrown away. Don’t worry — it sounds goofy or cheap, but it’s one of several sensible and practical design decisions that Nyko made here.
So I’m one of those guys that actually reads the instructions of (most) new products I get. With the Data Bank, that took just a minute or two. First thing’s first — have the 3.5″ SATA hard drive you want to use standing by. Then, press the two chrome triangles on either side of the Bank to pop release the lid. I like that you have to use two hands here, it adds just that extra layer of intent and security to the product. The lid comes clean off, providing ample space to fit your hard drive. The three SATA drives I tested all fit in the enclosure and their connectors fit perfectly, no issues.
Next comes the foam piece — it fits snuggly at the front of your 3.5″ drive (opposite side from the connectors) and is used just for some extra insurance in keeping your drive fully connected and immovable. A drive losing interface or power during a read or write operation can corrupt data, and possibly damage the drive itself, and while there’s no reason to think your Xbox system is going to get moved around during play, this minor touch by Nyko is appreciated. That said, with your drive’s connectors in place and the foam piece snugged in between the Bank and the drive to keep it that way, the lid snaps back in place and you’re nearly done. ANd you know what? This entire process is 100% tool-less — no screwdrivers or anything but your hands required.
Moving on, there was a very minor goof in my instructions it appears, as you’re supposed to remove the protective tape pieces from the four semi-sticky feet the Bank has. These semi-sticky feet are just that, residue-less, perfectly flush feet that, in addition to gravity and how the cables of the unit are positioned, give the unit increased stability to where it will not slide off of the console. Contrary to the instructions, my Data Bank did not have any tape covering these, which was just an oddity. Anyway, next place the Bank on the system as pictured. It fits perfectly, and the attached USB 3.0 cable reaches either of the two rear Xbox ports smoothly (of course, you only need to reach one).
Next is the power — a short power cable comes out of the back of the Bank and it mates with the AC adapter. In another smart move, Nyko used a simple twist lock mechanism on this power cord. It took me a few tries to line up the notches, but once you do, simply rotate a fraction of a turn clockwise and now disconnecting the Bank from the AC power supply is very hard to do. I gave the cord at this connection point some firm tugs and my drive kept plugging away, very good design and implementation here. On the AC adapter itself, I give Nyko a tip of the hat as well for actually putting their company and product name on the AC adapter. How many of us have generic, unlabeled power cables and adapters filling our surge strips? I’m to the point that I have tiny pieces of tape with the name of the device written on it pasted onto the power cord as it goes into the surge strip. With the Data Bank, Nyko’s label is printed onto the AC adapter itself in a very clear and legible manner.
Booting up my system after connecting this was the final step before use. I use the non-instant standby mode on my Xbox One, and I have noticed my boot times have increased by several seconds while the drive is checked, but this is a minor and understandable delay for an external periphreal like a hard drive. At first boot, the Xbox recongized that I had a hard drive attached, asked to format it, gave me the appropriate data-loss warning, and then offered to use this external drive as my default storage device for game downloads and so on. You can of course change this setting at any time under the Storage settings.
I have had the Data Bank attached to my system for a few days now and have installed and downloaded, and also deleted several games to it, just for testing. I’ve probably thrown around 120GB or more via disc install and download with no problems. How fast these operations go is almost exclusively dependent on the hard drive you’re using. If you have the budget for it, getting a SSD will be faster than a traditional magnetic storage drive, but I didn’t have that option during testing. The two drives I tested were an old Seagate 2TB desktop class, 7200rpm drive and a Dell Enterprise grade 1TB drive, both of which performed without error.
To this point, the Data Bank has been a great product. Only time will tell what will happen from here, but there’s little reason to think that there will be any issues. For one, an external USB enclosure is a product design that’s been around for nearly twenty years — as far as complexity goes, they’re basic, no moving parts, low power, and so forth. Heck I even have some external enclosures that are nearly fifteen years old and they still work (they’re USB 2.0 and only allow for IDE devices, but still). You could point at the separate AC power supply as a point of failure, and at face value that’s fair — but in my own experience with external USB drives, having a drive with its own power rather than leeching power from the USB bus of the system it’s attached to is better for both the drive’s health and that of the system it’s pulling power from, especially when that system is a videogame console. In other words, I’m happy to power up the Data Bank separately rather than rely on the USB bus of the Xbox One (or any system) to power it as it puts just that much less ‘strain’ and wear on the console itself. For anyone who suffered through multiple Xbox 360 failures, or any electronics failures in the past, keeping electrical power to and within the system in question as clean and stable as you can is often overlooked but nonetheless vital.
Finally, while purchasing a Data Bank and a separate internal hard drive is likely to cost you a little bit more than just a external hard drive by itself, I would remind readers that the financial cost at the time of purchase isn’t everything. Don’t underestimate the value of (short and long term) aesthetics, smart design, and device longevity, three criteria that I think Nyko has secured with their Data Bank.
To the summary…