Ultimate Guide to NVIDIA Shield TV External Storage


If the new NVIDIA Shield TV has one fault, it’s that you never have enough internal storage space.

In fact, unless you’re still using one of the original 2015 NVIDIA Shield TV Pros, you’ve only got 16 GB of storage space at most. The 2019 base model Shield TV has an even more stingy 8 GB of storage space.

The average HD movie takes up between 5 – 8 GB. That means you can only store a couple movies on your Shield TV at one time.

No wonder so many people add some type of external storage to their NVIDIA Shield TV!

A few years ago I wrote an article talking about how to add more storage space to your Shield TV. It became one of my most popular posts with thousands of views each month.

But things have changed quite a bit since then.

NVIDIA no longer recommends USB flash drives, so I felt this was a great time to take another look and see what’s out there.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the different types of external storage: SD cards, hard drives and portable SSD’s. I’ll give my recommendations and show you how to add each to your NVIDIA Shield TV. Finally, I’ll show you how to mount a network share to your NVIDIA Shield so you can stream movies over your home network.

Ready?

Let’s get started.

Additional Storage is a MUST for Your NVIDIA Shield

I’ve owned every version of the Shield TV.

My daily use Android TV device was my 2015 Shield TV Pro, before upgrading to the 2017 Shield TV. It lacked the 500 GB hard drive of the Shield TV pro, but it was smaller and could hide behind my television.

Recently I picked up the new, cylindrical 2019 Shield TV. I quickly realized that the storage space was a huge drawback.

Right out of the box there’s only 3.7 GB of available space remaining.

Yikes!

Obviously the base model Shield TV is designed to be a streamer, getting most of your content from Netflix or some other streaming service.

Adding some additional storage would give you the ability to run Plex Media Server or Kodi and actually use internal storage for some of your content.

Best External Storage for the NVIDIA Shield

I did a lot of comparison shopping to find the perfect external storage for my NVIDIA Shield TV’s. Unfortunately, the 2019 Shield TV doesn’t include a USB port. That meant I needed both an external hard drive and a micro-SD card.

One thing you’ll find missing from this list are USB flash drives.

I’ll get into that a little further down, but for now, here are my recommended external drives.

Best Micro-SD Card for NVIDIA Shield TV

There are a couple of different option for micro-SD cards, but I chose to go with the Lexar Professional 1000x series.

The 1000x series is available in 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB sizes. Each is rated at transfer speeds of 150 MB per second. That’s fast enough for 4K video as long as you’re using some sort of compression.

The 1800x Lexar drives are also in this price-point. They boast a transfer speed of up to 270 MB per second! However, you can usually get double the storage for the same price in the 1000x series.

You definitely want to check the prices with all SD cards, and these are no exception. I was able to pick up the 32 GB card on sale for around $15 on Amazon.

Best External Hard Drive for NVIDIA Shield TV

I’ll admit, I’m partial to Western Digital hard drives. I’ve been building PC’s for over twenty years and I’ve rarely had a WD drive fail on me. I store a lot of personal information on various hard drives, and personally, it gives me peace of mind to know that my important data is safe.

With that in mind, I looked at a few different portable WD drives, but quickly settled on the WD Black Series P10 gaming hard drives.

Streaming video and video games both need insanely fast transfer speeds, so I knew this would be a great fit. This drive has a transfer speed of 140 MB per second, putting it just a touch slower than the Lexar micro-SD card that you’ll see a little further down.

When you compare hard drives to SSD drives, you’re usually trading storage space for speed. Hard drives aren’t quite as fast as SSD’s, but they’re considerably less expensive.

I was able to pick up a 2 TB WD Black P10 hard drive for around $80. Getting an SSD with that kind of storage, you’d be paying over $300.

All in all, the WD Black P10 has rock-solid reliability and really good speed, all for a price that won’t break the bank. You can find them on Amazon in sizes ranging from 2 TB, 4 TB or 5 TB.

Best SSD Drive for NVIDIA Shield TV

If you don’t mind paying a little more for a blindingly fast external hard drive, then you want to look at the Samsung T7 portable SSD.

When you hear the name Samsung, you might only think about their amazing televisions. But, Samsung is also the market leader in SSD technology.

The Samsung P7 is the replacement for the award winning P5 external SSD. It comes in 500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB sizes and start at around $110. Each boasts a transfer speed of 1050 MB per second.

That’s over seven times faster than regular hard drives!

As I said earlier, you’re going to be paying a premium for that speed. When I was shopping, I was able to get both the WD Black and the Lexar micro-SD card for less than the price of a 500 GB SSD on Amazon.

NVIDIA used to maintain a page on their official support site that had a list of recommended USB flash drives.

Not anymore.

Over the years, several Shield TV owners reported their USB flash drives getting extremely hot. While there’s no reports of fires caused by USB flash drives, it was enough to cause NVIDIA to withdraw their recommendation.

I highly recommend avoiding USB flash drives on the Shield TV or any other Android TV box.

How To Add More Storage to Your NVIDIA Shield

It’s super-easy to add additional storage to your NVIDIA Shield TV. In fact, there’s only one decision that you need to make ahead of time.

Do you want to use it as Device Storage for more apps, or do you just want a place to store your media files?

Adoptable Storage vs. Portable Storage

As soon as you go plug an SD card into your NVIDIA Shield TV, you’ll be asked whether you want to use it as Device Storage.

Adopting the SD card as device storage, also called Adoptable Storage, allows the system to use the SD card as if it were the internal storage. This means you can install new apps directly to it, or move apps to free up space.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but adopting the SD card as device storage has some drawbacks.

Adoptable storage is slower than the internal storage on your device. It’s never a good idea to offload apps that you use frequently to external storage. You’ll definitely notice the performance lag.

SD cards have a shorter lifespan than the hard drive on your Shield TV. The normal lifespan of an SD card is between 5-10 years, depending on the manufacturer. That’s still a long time, but just keep in mind that your SD card is probably going to fail before your device does.

The SD card will only work on that device. This was the biggest shock for me. Adoptable storage is formatted specifically to work on that device. You can’t try to use it in another device without reformatting it. In which case, you’ll lose all of the data you stored on it.

While none of these reasons are deal-breakers, I recommend using external storage as portable storage instead of adopting it as device storage.

Remember, if you format your SD card or hard drive, you will lose any information that you’ve already stored on it.

How to Add External Storage to Your NVIDIA Shield

The process for adding additional storage is similar, whether you’re adding an external hard drive through the USB port or plugging in a micro-SD card.

The first thing you’ll want to do is physically attach the drive.

If you’re plugging in an external hard drive, you can use whichever USB port is easier for you. For example, my Shield TV is mounted behind my television, so I plug it into the slot next to the Ethernet port. That way I can still reach the other USB port for my wireless keyboard.

Micro-SD cards are considerably easier because there’s only one place the card can go. If you have a 2015 NVIDIA Shield TV, 2015 Shield TV Pro or 2017 Shield TV Pro, the micro SD card slot is on the back of the device.

On the 2019 Shield TV, the micro-SD card slot is on the end of the device, directly above the HDMI port.

As soon as you plug in the SD card or hard drive, you’ll get a notification warning the next time you turn on your NVIDIA Shield TV.

How to Add a Micro-SD Card to Your NVIDIA Shield TV

Let’s talk about adding a micro-SD card to your Shield TV first.

The easiest place to start is by clicking on the notification message in the upper right hand corner of your home screen. In this example, your Shield recognized that you installed an SD card and is prompting you to tap to set it up.

Clicking on the notification takes you to a screen where you’ll decide whether you want to adopt the card as device storage, or whether you just want to browse the contents at this time.

If you’re unsure what that means, go back up and re-read the section on Adoptable Storage vs. Portable Storage.

In this example, we’re going to select to Set up as device storage. When we cover how to install an external hard drive, we’re going to configure that one as portable storage.

The choice is up to you. You can configure external hard drives and micro-SD cards as both device storage and portable storage.

Once you click to set up your SD card as device storage, the system warns you that you’re about to format the drive. Remember, once you click format, you’ll lose anything that’s stored on the card.

Click Format to continue.

It should only take a few seconds to format your SD card, depending on how large it is.

Once that process is complete, you’ll be asked whether you want to move some system files to your card now or later. Since the card can’t be used until these files are moved, go ahead and click Move now.

A brief splash screen appears to tell you that the system is moving data to the SD card. You’re then brought back to the storage screen where you can see a breakdown of how the space is used.

Since we set up the SD card as device storage, you have two options here: eject the card or re-format the card as removable storage.

Keep in mind that this card is secure storage now. It can only be used with this device. If you remove it, you won’t have access to any of the apps that you’ve migrated on to it.

How to Connect an External Hard Drive to Your NVIDIA Shield TV

Adding an external hard drive to your NVIDIA Shield TV follows a similar process.

In this example, we’re going to set it up as portable storage rather than adopting it as device storage. That makes the setup super-easy.

You can quickly jump to the Storage section of the Settings menu by clicking on the notification warning on the upper right-hand corner of your home screen.

Alternately, you can navigate there directly by going to Settings, then Device Preferences, then Storage.

If you purchased an external hard drive from a major manufacturer, I’ve found that the NVIDIA Shield TV is really good at figuring out exactly what it is.

In this example, you can see it’s already figured out that I connected my WD Black P10 and it’s ready to go.

Believe it or not, you’re already done.

Since we’re not adopting it as device storage, the drive is ready to use. You can access it through your favorite Android file manager. Or, you can click on the drive’s name to get a quick idea of how much space is available.

How to Mount Network Storage to Your NVIDIA Shield TV

If you’re like me and store your movies on a network storage drive like the WD MyCloud, then you’re going to love this part. No matter which NVIDIA Shield TV you own, you can connect it to shared drives on your network.

It’s important to note that you won’t have the option to add a network share as device storage, which makes sense.

Start by going to the Settings menu and clicking on Device Preferences. This is the same starting point that you’d use for setting up a hard drive or SD card as well.

Then click on the Storage menu.

Here you can see I’ve already got my WD Black P10 external heard drive installed from the last section.

But we’re going to scroll down past that and click on the option to Mount Network Storage.

As soon as you do, your NVIDIA Shield TV is going to do a quick scan of your network to see what shared folders it can find.

In this example, it can find three devices: two Western Digital My Cloud drives (MYCLOUD and ITO-ISHIOKA) and my laptop (TADASHI).

Fun fact: I named my network devices after characters and locations from the movie Big Hero 6. It hindsight, I’d probably pick simpler names next time around. They’re too complicated to manually type in.

The Shield TV lets you skip that in most cases, but you can still manually add a network share if you need to.

If you choose to manually add a shared drive, you’ll need to type in the full URL for the drive. You can’t use the IP address, unfortunately.

However, in my case, we’re going to be adding my MyCloud Mirror which is named ITO-ISHIOKA.

Depending on how you’ve set up the shared folder on your network, you’ll need to provide login credentials. I’m on a Windows network, so this is an account that has access to that folder.

Once you’ve successfully logged in, your NVIDIA Shield TV will start to scan the folder structure. Once it finishes, you’ll see a list of folders and the approximate size of their contents.

Even though I’m on a gigabit network, this process took a really long time. However, you don’t need to wait for the scan to finish before you start using the network drive.

You can have several network shares at any given time, which is nice. I was able to quickly add both MyCloud drives using the same process.

If you want to remove a network share, all you need to do is click into the drive, scroll all the way down and click Disconnect.

Tim Wells

Tim Wells got his first computer at the age of ten and hasn't stopped tinkering ever since. After discovering Android TV boxes in 2013, he created a popular Android PC Review website and guided it to over 8 million pageviews before selling it in 2018. After a brief hiatus from the industry he's back at the helm of AndroidTVNews.com to bring Android TV boxes to the forefront of the streaming world. When he's not writing, he spends as much time as he can with his beautiful wife and his bulldog.

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