How to use a USB Drive as the Fire TV’s Internal Storage

fire-tv-usb-external-hard-drive
The Amazon Fire TV’s 8GB internal storage fills up quickly, especially if you’re installing a lot of games or have a large XBMC library. I’ve written about a partial solution in the past which moves some files from the Fire TV’s internal storage to a connected USB drive. This guide will walk you through a much better solution, created by XDA-Developers member jmandawg, that uses a USB drive as a complete replacement for the Fire TV’s internal storage.

Important Information
There are pros and cons to following this guide. The pros are obvious; your Fire TV storage capacity will be larger. The primary con is that your Fire TV will run slower because it cannot access files on a USB drive as fast as it can access files on its internal 8GB storage. The amount of slowness will greatly depend on the performance of the USB drive you use for this guide. A solid state external hard drive will perform best. Next best is a spinning external hard drive. Poorest results will come from a USB thumb/flash drive. The slowness will cause apps to launch a little slower and you may see a bit of stuttering when navigating around the Fire TV menus. This guide is completely reversible, so if the slowness bothers you enough, you can revert back to using your Fire TV’s internal storage for everything. Instructions to revert this process can be found at the bottom of this guide.

It is also important to at least somewhat understand what this process does so that you know how it affects future modifications you may do to your Fire TV. This guide will copy certain directories (including /sdcard) to the attached USB drive and tell the Fire TV to look for those directories on the USB drive. If the Fire TV can’t find the directories on the USB drive, it will automatically revert to using the original directories on the internal storage and try to re-copy the directories to the USB drive if a USB drive is found. This behavior is important to know because, at the time this guide is being written, ClockworkMod cannot mount EXT4 USB drives (which is what this guide must use). This means that, if you use ADB to push a file to /sdcard, ClockworkMod will not be able to access the pushed file. In order for ClockworkMod to see a file in /sdcard, the file must be copied to /data_fire/media/0. An example of this process can be seen in steps 4 thru 6 in the revert instructions found at the bottom of this guide.

Additionally, you will need to redo steps 7 thru 14 anytime you flash a new software update within ClockworkMod. More information can be found at this XDA post.

Prerequisites

  • Your Fire TV must be rooted.
  • Your Fire TV must be running ClockworkMod Custom Recovery
  • Your USB drive must have only 1 partition formated using the EXT4 file system. NTFS, FAT, FAT32, exFAT will not work. Search Google for instructions on how to format a drive with EXT4 as it is not covered in this guide.
  • Optional, but recommended – Perform a factory reset before following this guide. Some have run into issues by not first performing a factory reset.

Instructions

  1. Optional, but recommended. Backup your important data and factory reset your Fire TV.
  2. Format your USB drive with a single EXT4 partition. Search Google for instructions on how to do this. Mac users can try FUSE-EXT2 or ExtFS for Mac. Windows users can try PartitionWizard or ExtFS for Windows.
  3. Download the latest setup script zip file labeled “MountDataToUSB” from the bottom of this XDA post.
  4. Power on your Fire TV (if it’s off) and plug your USB drive into the Fire TV’s USB port.
    (Note: You will soon need to control ClockworkMod. It is recommended that you control ClockworkMod remotely over the network so that the USB drive can be connected directly to the Fire TV. However, if you need to use a USB keyboard and USB hub instead, you should connect those now.)
  5. Connect to your Fire TV via ADB.
  6. Transfer the zip file you downloaded in step 3 to the Fire TV’s /sdcard directory by running the following command:
    adb push MountDataToUSB_v2.5.zip /sdcard/
    (Note: Replace “MountDataToUSB_v2.5.zip” in the above command with the full path to the file you downloaded if the file is not in the same directory as ADB, or if the filename is different.)
  7. Run the following command to reboot into ClockworkMod:
    adb reboot recovery
  8. Once in ClockworkMod, select “install zip”.
  9. Select “choose zip from /sdcard”
  10. Select “0/”
  11. Select the file you transferred in step 6
  12. Select “Yes – Install [FILENAME].zip”
  13. Wait for the message “Install complete!” to appear.
    (Note: Do not be alarmed if you see red text saying “Amazon kernel detected: not patching”. This is unrelated and normal behavior for ClockworkMod)
  14. Go back to the ClockworkMod main menu and select “reboot system now”
  15. The Fire TV will reboot. It may take a long time to reboot. BE PATIENT and do not power off or restart the Fire TV. It is setting up the USB drive. You may see strange static/pixelation appear on your TV. That is fine. Just let it do its thing and wait for the Fire TV home screen to completely load.
  16. Head on over to Settings > System > About to verify that your storage capacity has changed.

How to Revert back to using Internal Storage

  1. Download the revert script zip file from the bottom of this XDA post
  2. Connect to your Fire TV via ADB.
  3. Transfer the zip file you downloaded in step 1 to the Fire TV’s /sdcard directory by running the following command:
    adb push REVERT_MountSDCARDtoUSB.zip /sdcard/
    (Note: Replace “REVERT_MountSDCARDtoUSB.zip” in the above command with the full path to the file you downloaded if the file is not in the same directory as ADB, or if the filename is different.)
  4. Run the following command:
    adb shell
  5. Run the following command:
    su
  6. Run the following command:
    cp /sdcard/REVERT_MountSDCARDtoUSB.zip /data_fire/media/0/
    (Note: Change “REVERT_MountSDCARDtoUSB.zip” if the file you downloaded in step 1 has a different filename.)
  7. Run the command:
    rm -f /sdcard/REVERT_MountSDCARDtoUSB.zip
    (Note: Change “REVERT_MountSDCARDtoUSB.zip” if the file you downloaded in step 1 has a different filename.)
  8. Run the following command to reboot into ClockworkMod:
    adb reboot recovery
  9. Once in ClockworkMod, select “install zip”.
  10. Select “choose zip from /sdcard”
  11. Select “0/”
  12. Select the file you transferred in step 3
  13. Select “Yes – Install [FILENAME].zip”
  14. Wait for the message “Install complete!” to appear.
    (Note: Do not be alarmed if you see red text saying “Amazon kernel detected: not patching”. This is unrelated and normal behavior for ClockworkMod)
  15. Go back to the ClockworkMod main menu and select “reboot system now”
  16. Your Fire TV will restart and once again be set to use its internal storage instead of the USB drive.

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47 comments
  1. D says:

    I had to take a minute and share how much I love your site. I visit it daily and have for the last 4+ months. Thank you for adding so much value to my AFTV experience. It REALLY helps. Saves me from having to visit and read a ton of other posts elsewhere. Thank you.

  2. ysamjo says:

    Isn’t it irrelevant if you use an USB-Stick or an External SSD because the Fire TV only has USB 2.0?

    • tommmmer says:

      ysamjo – Access times of an ssd would be the reason.

    • Y314K says:

      You would think that. But after a bunch of trials over at XDA. Folks that tried USBSticks got too slow of an experience. Not worth it at all. Folks that tried USB HDD’s said they could barely tell a difference between internal & external. Hub or no Hub. But SSD’s are faster & won’t have the same wear & tear as HDD’s. So those would be the best overall solution. Go on over to XDA & read the thread. You’ll see that AFTVNews stated things perfectly in his guide.

    • Y314K says:

      There is now a “MountPartialDataToUSB_v1.0.zip” version made for ThumbDrives. So if you can only hook up a USBStick. That would be the one for you….

  3. Jonny says:

    Great guide. Would be great to see a similar guide on how to mount some sort of network attached storage as internal storage (such as an NFS or SMB mount)

  4. Vox says:

    Hi, Can I use a regular USB hub to connect the mouse, keyboard and external HDD? Or, is it better to go with a powered USB hub?

    I am planning on using on a powered 500 gig hard drive for this purpose.

    Thanks!

  5. aminotarabay says:

    Sorry for the newbie question. when you say push to \sdcard\ is it correct to use backslash or should it be forward slash?

    • AFTVnews says:

      Backslash is correct. Windows uses forward slash for file paths, while Android and the Fire TV use backslash.

      • Sankisan says:

        Or the other way around ;-)

        Windows uses backslash and linux/Android uses forward slashes.

        I normally push with forward slashed (at destination), but it might also work with backslashes?
        I actually never tried it, maybe adb is correcting this.

        100% correct would be something like:

        adb push c:\pathxy\REVERT_MountSDCARDtoUSB.zip /sdcard/

        Am I wrong?

  6. tuxen says:

    I was thinking. And I’m probably just paranoid but what happens if you do a factory reset either from cwm or fireOS?

    In fact I searched and I couldn’t find and answer:
    What happens if I factory reset with a pre-rooted rom. Will the aftv force a download of the latest firmware ar every initial factory reset?

    Also I heard something about losing root on preerooted roms when factory reset; Am I paranoid again?

    All the best. great site!

    • AFTVnews says:

      Factory resetting a pre-rooted ROM is safe. You will not lose root because the SU binary lives outside the user data. You do, however, have to remember to re-disable updates if you factory reset. A Fire TV running ClockworkMod cannot accidentally update to a stock ROM, so there’s nothing to worry there.

  7. tuxen says:

    Wow.. Thanks alot for the quick clearup! =)
    As said it’s all clear now, once again easy explained.

    Thanks for your dedication to this device, I keep updated with your blog whenever I can.

  8. AQKhan says:

    I would like to add that not all external SSD drives are equal or ideal. I bought and tried a Monster 128gb external SSD. The price was good, looks good etc., but performance is horrible. The drive is extremely slow and is in fact much, much worse than the USB flash drive I was using before. So much so I returned it and am now using the USB flash drive again while I wait for a Black Friday deal on another external SSD.

  9. Charly says:

    Hi! Thanks in advice! How much time take to reboot the system after do all the process? Im in Amazon black screen since 1 hour ago. I had only 600mb free space so i supose that copy all the files take a long time. Is this normal?

    Best regards!

  10. Bruce says:

    If I have previously been using StickMount for accessing USB storage, should I uninstall StickMount before making this change?

  11. Bruce says:

    I got this working with a 64GB ADATA thumb drive on one of my Fire TVs and with a 64GB SD card w/ USB reader on my other.

    I tried to use a 256GB MyDigitalSSD drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EZ2FRP2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1), but no matter how I formatted the drive as EXT4 I couldn’t get the Fire TV to mount it.

    • bula says:

      Are you using a power enclosure? External HDs need to be powered to be mounted. BTW a power hub is recommended as well.

      • Bruce says:

        Not using a powered SSD/HDD nor a powered USB hub is probably the root of my problem, but I’d really like to find a large storage solution that does not introduce an additional power supply into the equation. If only I could power a USB hub and the Fire TV from a single power supply/cord.

    • Snorkel says:

      How was the performance with the adata 64gb? I have one of these also, it’s USB3.

  12. jakepe says:

    Could it be possible to use a Nas as XBMC internal storage ?

    • Bruce says:

      I don’t think you’d be able to use a NAS as internal storage for XBMC, but you should be able to connect the NAS as a persistent media source.

  13. daniel says:

    Hi!
    I missed the part about it taking long time to reboot. And turned off my fire tv. And when I turned on my fire tv it is just standing in the start up showing the amazon fire tv logo..

    //Daniel

  14. daniel says:

    Hi again. Now it moved on to the “installing the latest software” screen and doesnt move from there. Is there some way to get my fire tv into clockworkmod again?

    With regards
    Daniel

    • Bruce says:

      Daniel,

      Have you tried disconnecting your USB drive & rebooting? That may get you booting the way things worked before you started this.

      If it does, I’d then do the “revert” instructions above, clean your USB drive off again (using a PC), and then try again from the beginning.

      • daniel says:

        Hi! Thanx for the response.
        When I disconnect the usb drive it boots into normal menu. But everytime i try to reboot with usb memory connected i gets stuck in the “installing the latest software” screen,

        What do you mean with clean your usb drive?

        With regards
        Daniel

        • Bruce says:

          I mean delete all files and folders from the usb drive using a computer other than your Fire TV.

          If you disconnect the USB drive, and then follow the “How to Revert back to using Internal Storage” instructions above. Then even with you USB drive attached the Fire TV should boot into the normal menu.

          If you don’t use the “revert” instructions your Fire TV will continue to try to use your USB drive as internal storage any time it is attached at boot-up.

  15. BVMays says:

    Great guide. I took a while to get it figured out. My problem was getting my ssd formatted in ext4. I don’t have a linux os computer, and I tried the two links for mac. ExtFS for Mac has a free 10 day trial so I did that and it formatted. I still didn’t work though. I finally downloaded virtual box and gparted.iso and reformatted with gparted. I didn’t have the ext4 as the first partition on the drive. I reformatted it with ONE partition(be sure to look for hidden partitions if you’re having issues).
    Then I had troubles with the USB hub. I had a cheap ebay one and it wouldn’t work powered, but I could use it unpowered. I got another DLink hub and it works great. I don’t know what was going on with the cheap hub. Maybe too much power, or back feeding into the FireTV?

    Its all slower now, but I have 120GB of storage!

  16. JOhn Deer says:

    Well I can no longer root my device, but would this have allowed Plex to host a large library?

  17. Mike says:

    Ok I have a question. On my Amazon Fire TV I have Custom Mod 51.1.4.1_514013920 installed and everything works fine. Last night I decided to install a PNY 16gb USB stick and formatted as EXT4 and then performed a adb push of MountDataToUSB_v3.1.zip (newest available). Everything when through fine and when it booted back to the home screen, I went to settings,System, About and it shows only 1.39 gb free.
    HOWEVER when I go into SPMC 13.4 and go to System info and look at storage it shows 14.9gb free. Also when I select Genesis to watch a movie or TV show, I can tell it’s accessing the USB drive and I’m very surprised how fast it is, not much slower than reading from the box.
    So my questions I guess is, is it ok that it’s showing up ONLY in SPMC vs. the Amazon desktop or did I do something wrong?

    Also just so I understand with this USB drive installed, this should take care of my “Cache Full” issues correct? Also will the amount of space being taken up on the USB drive stay the same as long as I don’t install anything new meaning it will just be used for buffering and then erase and start again when I watch the next video.

    Thanks for the help in advance!!

    Mike

  18. Noel says:

    Is there a way to just map kodi’s video cache to an external SD. I’ve tried several options found here and other forums but even setting the path along with using folder mount – it seems that when setting the membuffersize to 0 it still saves the cache to the internal memory.

    I’m thinking of just running Kodi on my 16gb USB drive but I’d like to check first if getting video cache to a UBS is doable before moving the app to the USB drive.

  19. Bill says:

    I came across a thread on xda-developers.com on how to do this, but I wanted to know something first. I’m currently using a 32GB flash drive that is partitioned with a FAt32 and ext4. I have Link2SD installed and at least one game that is configured with the FolderMount/Link2SD method. Is it possible to keep my drive in it’s current state but maybe shrink the FAT32 partition and expand the ext4 one, leaving the data I already have there? Or do I have to do a from scratch deal? I backed everything up with My Backup Pro just in case.

  20. highgrade says:

    could someone help i cannot seem to get my external hard drive to be use as internal storage i have format toshiba usb 3.0 drive using paragon hard disk manager 15 and follow the steps and still is is not working i am currnetly on 51.1.4.1_user_514013920

  21. Mike says:

    So ya running the “MountMediaTOUSB_v3.1.zip” script file and having it write to a 16gb PNY thumb drive, it didn’t work for me and my Fire TV Box. When I did this it seemed to just show movies that I’ve already watched, and nothing seemed to update anymore. When performing searches for any movie it would come up blank. As soon as I installed the “REVERT_MountSDCARDtoUSB.zip” file and reverted back to normal everything started to update and the movie searches in Genesis started working fine.
    So now my question is exactly like Noel says….is there a way to just write the cache to the USB drive so that we don’t received the “Cache full” error?

    Thanks!

    Mike

  22. Mike del Castillo says:

    Could this possibly work for the Nexus Player?

  23. Orlando says:

    Hi,

    I was wondering if it would be possible to have a USB HD with two partitions, one with EXT4 to copy Android files and the other to copy videos, photos,etc. How can I make Android mount both partitions? Is it possible?

    Thanks,

  24. Ray says:

    Anyone able to get this to work with the most recent pre-rooted rom? I tried the modified 3.1 zip in the XDA thread, and it installs and finds my external drive in CWM, but after rebooting it stays on the Amazon Fire TV screen for a long time before rebooting on its own. I checked the external drive and it failed to copy over the contents.

  25. nathan says:

    I loslost my remote while moving and would like to know how can I connect my fire stick to the internet so I can pair another remote to it

  26. Bluebird says:

    Hi, love your detailed guides. I have fire TV 2 with root and TWRP on 5.0.5 and wondering if this post is still relevant ?

    Or should I stick to transferring apps to USB, in manage applications?

    It really angers me seeing only 1gb available. Thanks

  27. bubbz says:

    I want to use the USB storage ext like clockworkmod but I’m running twrp already! Is it possible to run the mountdrive ext through twrp? My box is giving me problems with storage

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