Support for external storage among Amazon Fire TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and Fire TV Cubes varies considerably between models. It’s, unfortunately, not as cut and dry as knowing if external storage is supported or not. Amazon has been doing a much better job lately with consistent support on newer Fire TV models, but, with the announcement of the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max, there have been questions about how its external storage support differs from the regular Fire TV Stik 4K and other models. Here is a breakdown of all the different types of external storage support and which Fire TV models support each type.
This article will explain exactly how external storage works on each Fire TV model. If you do not know precisely which model you have, see this guide. Also, it’s important to note that even though a Fire TV model may support storing apps on external storage, it is up to the app developer to allow it. If an app does or doesn’t support being moved to external storage today, that may change with a future update.
No External Storage Support
Devices: 1st-gen Fire TV Stick
While there are many Fire TV models that could be classified as not having external storage support because they either don’t have the appropriate ports or don’t seem to do anything when external storage is connected, that’s not entirely accurate, as you’ll see with the other sections of this article. No external storage support, for the purposes of this article, means that no data at all can be transferred from an external device to the Fire TV. The only model that behaves this way is the 1st-gen Fire TV Stick. That’s because it has USB OTG capabilities disabled, which means that even if you connect an OTG cable to its micro USB port, it will ignore everything that is connected. That said, it is possible to enable OTG support if the stick is rooted, but I’ll only be going over default factory behavior in this article.
Umounted Data Access Only
Devices: 3rd-gen Fire TV (Pendant)
This is the most limited form of external storage support and only one model behaves this way, which is the 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick pendant. Amazon did not disable OTG support on the Fire TV 3, so you can connect USB peripherals just fine using an OTG cable, but, for some odd reason, the OS does not mount any external drives that are connected. This means that most apps, like Kodi or VLC, are unable to read data from the external drive. Only the very few apps that are capable of mounting external drives themselves, like ES File Explorer or Total Commander (with the help of a plugin), are able to read data from external drives. This, of course, also means that apps cannot be moved to external storage by Fire OS.
Data Access Only
Devices: 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick, and 1st-gen Fire TV Stick 4K
Devices that support this form of external storage support, which include the Fire TV Stick 2 and the Fire TV Stick 4K, will fully mount external drives that get connected via an OTG cable. This means that all apps will see the drive and be able to access its data. However, Fire OS itself will not offer to format the drive or do anything with it. This means that you cannot move apps to external storage on these Fire TV models. There are ways to hack that capability onto the device, but it is not present by default.
App Storage & Data Access
Devices: 1st-gen Fire TV, 2nd-gen Fire TV, 1st-gen Fire TV Cube, 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube, 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick, 1st-gen Fire TV Stick Lite, 1st-gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max
This type of external storage support is the most complete among Fire TV devices. When external storage is connected to the Fire TV, either through an OTG cable or an available port, the Fire TV will display a message asking how you would like it to handle the external storage. The two options provided are to use the external drive for “External Storage” or for “Device Storage.” Selecting “External Storage” will simply mount the drive so that any app can access the data on the drive. Selecting “Device Storage” will format the drive so that it can be used to store apps. This allows you to expand the internal storage of the Fire TV and run apps from the external storage device.
Those are the 4 types of external storage support available among Fire TV models. You can see that the Fire TV Stick 4K only supports accessing data from external storage in 3rd-party apps, while the upcoming Fire TV Stick 4K Max will support both accessing data and storing apps. It seems like Amazon has learned from its mistake of not allowing app storage on the Fire TV Stick 4K, since all models released since then have had full-fledged external storage support that allows both app and data access.