Can I Use External Hard Drive On Apple TV? (Answered)

apple tv external hard drive
apple tv external hard drive

The streaming TV device from Apple delivers an almost infinite amount of content to subscribers. Their range is vast and the quality of both image and sound is astounding.

Since Apple made affordability the word of the day when it comes to Apple TV services, pretty much every family in the U.S. territory is able to afford this entertainment service.

Being compatible with most TV brands, and iPhones, iPads, Macs and AirPlay devices, Apple TV can also work with Roku, Fire, Google and Android TVs. With new content being added to the platform on a daily basis, apart from the original content, Apple TV is a solid option for entertaining the whole family.

However, as users do not wish to shuffle around the catalogue or simply because it can be quite practical, they store audio and video files on USB sticks or Hard Drives. As an extremely practical option for file storage, external HDs became quite popular.

Compatibility, though, seems to be a point those devices could evolve further, as it is not possible to run the files stored in external HDs on any device. At least not so simply.

Can I Use Apple TV External Hard Drive?

What Can I Do To Access Files On An External Hard Drive Through Apple TV

As mentioned before, external HDs carry gigabytes, or even terabytes of audio and video files. Their exquisite practicality and versatility allow users to easily transport a large number of presentations, movies, series, setlists and documents in their pockets.

When it comes to playing those files, users sometimes have it as easy as changing channels on their Smart TVs – or have a much harder time with devices that are not so compatible.

In the case of Apple TV, the connection with external HDs is not impossible, even if it is not so simple or direct, which can bring some disappointment. Thankfully, there is an easy way to go around the lack of compatibility and run the files from your external HD through your Apple TV.

Features like syncing, which can be accessed through some apps found in the Apple Store, will aid you in performing the connection and getting to those movies or series you have stored in your external HD.

The issue here, that prevents your Apple file explorer, the iTunes, from running the files stored in your external HD, is directly related to the DRM. The acronym stands for Digital Rights Management, and it works as a protective tool for digital files copyright.

your external HD

As piracy on the internet is an ever-growing challenge for most artists, producers, and labels, copyright laws had to step up and upgrade the level of protection these songs, movies, series and etc., demanded.

The whole idea behind it is that the creator of a content, i.e., an artist should be the one receiving the money for the publishing of the content they created.

And piracy is treading paths around those protective measures and allowing users to listen or watch content in such a way that the creator does not receive a single penny. That is why features such as DRM are so important.

Apart from that, by applying the extra layer of security DRM tools can offer, users are less prone to harmful files, as the sources from where the music or video files are obtained are guaranteed to deliver the original content.

Pirate websites, on the other hand, can’t really assure the files available for downloading are free from malware. As security is a key feature for any Apple device, the DRM protection is not going anywhere any time soon.

Method 1: The Home Sharing Feature

Unfortunately, Apple TV devices cannot override the DRM settings and allow exceptions, which constitutes a barrier to the connection of devices such as external HDs.

What you can do, though, is to use the Home Sharing feature on your iTunes app settings to command the device to stream the media through the ‘Computers’ app.

Bear in mind, though, that for the media to be accessible by iTunes, all the files have to be in formats accepted by the app. That seems to be the easier way to directly stream the content of an external HD through your Apple TV platform.

Method 2: Turn it into a Secondary Storage Unit

Method 2 Turn it into a Secondary Storage Unit

There is a second way to have your Apple TV device run the files in an external HD, and that is to turn it into a secondary storage unit for the Apple TV device.

As users reported, an external hard drive can be used even as the primary storage unit for Apple TV devices, but this type of connection works better as secondary ones. As the external hard drives become storage units for the Apple TV device, all the files located in it become part of the iTunes archive.

That makes them accessible and readable by the app, which allows users to enjoy pretty much any content stored in the external hard drive. The best part is that as long as the external HD is connected to the Apple TV device, there will be no need to redo the connections or anything.

Simply choose what you wish to watch from the secondary storage unit and enjoy it with top-notch quality of image and sound on your TV set.

your TV set

Should you opt for turning your external hard drive into a secondary storage unit for your Apple TV device, these are the steps you should follow in order to perform the connection between the devices:

Firstly, make sure to have the following devices at hand, as you will need them to perform the connection:

  • USB Hard Drive of MacOS or FAT32 formats.
  • ATV flash installed.
  • Smart Installer for USB support app downloaded and installed.

Once you gather all the items above, proceed to the second step, which concerns the connection itself:

Connect the external USB hard drive

  1. Connect the external USB hard drive to the Apple TV device.
  2. The content of the hard drive should become accessible via nitoTV, which can be found in the Files menu.
  3. Upon attempting to access the files stored in the external hard drive, make sure to reach them in the Files menu found in the nitoTV app. Should you attempt to locate, or run, the files through iTunes, there is a chance the connection fails and, since the HD is connected to the Apple TV device, a sudden disconnection could cause damage to the equipment.

Once you finish enjoying the movies, series or music you ran from the external hard drive, make sure to press the left arrow key with the nitoTV app open, so the system can ensure a safe disconnection.

Surely, third-party devices carry an easier compatibility with devices running Android or Android-based operational systems, since those normally have a plug-and-play feature.

plug it into the USB port

That means almost all external hard drive brands are compatible and all users have to do is plug it into the USB port to access and read the content within. On the other hand, the DRM feature present in iTunes and all other Apple devices or platforms assure the company’s standards of security.

That means users will probably have to face little more difficult ways to perform these types of connections or to reach files in unofficial sources, but their systems will be kept safer than the Android or Android-based ones.

In the end, it is a matter of compatibility versus security, so be aware of the pros and cons of each before opting for one or the other.

The Last Word

connect external HDs to Apple TV devices

In a nutshell, it is possible to connect external HDs to Apple TV devices, they are just not so simple connections to be performed. Should you prefer, you can attempt to reach the files in the HD via syncing apps, which can be found in your Apple Store.

Alternatively, you can turn your external HD into a secondary storage unit for the Apple TV device and run the files from there through the nitoTV app.

On a final note, should you come across other easy ways to run files from external hard drives through the Apple TV device, make sure to let us know. Leave a message in the comments section and help your fellow readers get the best out of this combo.

Additionally, your contribution will be making our page better, as the fixes herein might end up reaching more people through your comments. So, feel free to let us know if this article was helpful or what we should mention in the next one.

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