Skip to content

How to Enable Android TV Adoptable Storage for Both Supporting and Non-Supporting Devices

Expanding the internal storage on your Android TV box can be a headache when space runs low for apps and media files. Adoptable storage provides a handy solution – connecting an external USB drive to add more storage capacity that‘s seen as internal memory.

In this detailed guide, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about adoptable storage. You‘ll learn:

  • The benefits and limitations of adoptable storage
  • How to enable adoptable storage on compatible Android TV devices
  • Steps for manually enabling adoptable storage on non-supporting models
  • Troubleshooting tips for common adoptable storage issues
  • Recommendations for ideal external drives to maximize performance

Let‘s start by taking a closer look at what adoptable storage is and when you may want to use it.

What is Adoptable Storage on Android TV?

Adoptable storage allows you to connect an external USB drive or microSD card to your Android TV device and have it function as internal storage.

The external storage is encrypted and fused to the Android TV OS to seamlessly extend the internal memory capacity. This gives you more room to:

  • Install more apps than the built-in storage allows
  • Store more videos, music, photos, and other media
  • Reduce how much internal storage apps take up

You‘ll be able to move apps back and forth between the internal storage and adopted storage. The Android TV OS handles all the file management behind the scenes.

Adoptable storage is an easy way to overcome the internal storage limitations of many Android TV devices without opening up the box.

It‘s important to note that once storage is adapted, that external drive can only be used with that particular Android TV device. The encryption ties it specifically to that box.

Now let‘s explore the advantages and limitations of using adoptable storage.

Benefits of Adoptable Storage on Android TV

Here are some of the key benefits to using a USB drive or microSD card as adopted internal storage:

  • Install more apps – Most Android TV devices come with 8GB or 16GB of usable storage. A 64GB adopted drive can quadruple your app capacity.

  • Store entire media libraries – Adopted storage provides ample space for local collections of movies, shows, music, and pictures.

  • Reduce native storage usage – Apps and games can be moved to adopted storage to save room on internal storage.

  • Faster than traditional external storage – Adopted drives use faster read/write speeds instead of the limited speeds of cordoned off external storage.

  • Simple to set up – The process takes just a few steps and minutes on compatible Android TV models.

Adoptable storage delivers a seemless expanded storage solution. Tech-savvy users may still prefer opening up the device and installing a larger physical SATA SSD or hard drive. But for most owners, adoptable storage delivers an easier and non-invasive upgrade.

Limitations to Consider

Adoptable storage isn‘t without some limitations. Here are key caveats to keep in mind:

  • Encryption locks drive to one device – Adopted drives use full-disk encryption tied to the Android TV device. The external storage won‘t work on other devices unless formatted.

  • Requires continuous connection – If the adopted drive is disconnected, apps stored on it may not function properly until it‘s reconnected.

  • Not all devices support it – Mainly older Android TV boxes lack native support for adoptable storage. Workarounds are required.

  • Potential impact on performance – Very slow external drives can reduce speeds for apps/games stored on adopted storage.

  • No DVR expansion for live TV apps – Adopted storage cannot extend the recording capacity granted by apps like Sling or YouTube TV.

  • Manual app management required – You‘ll need to manually move apps between internal and adopted storage.

The limitations are reasonable given most users‘ needs. As long as you use a sufficiently fast drive and keep it connected, performance impacts are minimal.

Now let‘s look at why more storage is needed in the first place.

The Need for Expanding Android TV Storage

Many Android TV streaming boxes ship with paltry amounts of internal storage ranging from 8GB to 32GB. A portion of that is already consumed by the core OS and pre-installed apps.

Here is a breakdown of the average usable internal storage on common Android TV devices:

Device Usable Storage
Walmart Onn Box ~5GB
TiVo Stream 4K ~10GB
Xiaomi Mi Box S ~13GB
Nvidia Shield TV ~16GB

With 4K streaming and console-quality games now available, that storage space gets eaten up quickly.

For example, popular games like Fortnite or Call of Duty: Mobile require 3-4GB of storage each. Even non-gaming apps can take up over 1GB.

A study by ReviewsFire found the average Android TV device only has room for 10-15 apps installed simultaneously. Media files like movies and songs add even more constraint.

It‘s easy to see why adoptable storage is almost a necessity for cord cutters wanting to transform their Android TV into a media hub.

Connecting an adopted USB drive gives you breathing room to install your must-have apps and house a personal media library. Now let‘s go over how to set it up.

How to Enable Adoptable Storage on Compatible Android TV Models

Most Android TV devices released within the past 2-3 years fully support adopting external USB drives without any hacking required.

Popular compatible models include:

  • Nvidia Shield TV (2015 and newer)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box S
  • TiVo Stream 4K
  • Sony Bravia Android TVs (2018 models and newer)
  • TCL Android TVs (6 series and newer)

The process is straightforward on compatible devices:

  1. Connect the USB drive or microSD card adapter to your Android TV. You may require a USB-C or micro-USB OTG adapter if your device lacks a full-size USB port.

  2. Under Settings > Device Preferences > Storage, select your external drive.

  3. Choose "Erase & Format" or "Format as internal storage".

  4. Confirm the formatting when prompted. The drive will be fully erased.

  5. Let the formatting complete. The device may restart on its own.

  6. Return to Storage settings and select "Migrate data" to move apps/data over.

That‘s all there is to it! Be sure to have backups before formatting erased the drive.

If you run into issues with app performance after migrating to adopted storage, you may need a faster drive. Keep reading for drive recommendations.

Next I‘ll cover options for older Android TV systems that lack native support.

Enabling Adoptable Storage on Non-Supporting Android TV Devices

Many older Android TV boxes lack adoptable storage options in the settings menu. This includes models like:

  • AirTV Mini
  • Dynalink TV Box
  • Minix Neo T5
  • Walmart Onn Box

Luckily, you can manually enable adoptable storage using ADB debugging commands. The process involves:

  • Enabling developer options and USB debugging
  • Installing ADB shell and terminal apps
  • Formatting the external storage from a terminal
  • Running ADB commands to enable adoptable storage

I‘ll cover the step-by-step instructions next.

Preliminary Setup

  1. Enable developer options by tapping Build Number 7 times in Settings > About.

  2. Turn on USB debugging in the Developer Options menu.

  3. Open the Google Play Store and install Apps2Fire or Downloader. We‘ll use these apps to sideload the necessary ADB tools in the next steps.

Downloading ADB Tools

  1. Open your sideloading app and enter the URL to download ADB App Control.

  2. Repeat to download Termux which will be our terminal app.

  3. Open Termux, type adb devices and confirm you are connected.

  4. Grant root permissions when prompted to ensure full access.

Formatting the External Storage

  1. Connect your external USB drive or microSD card to the Android TV device.

  2. In Termux, type sm list-disks to list connected storage. Note the name for your external drive.

  3. Use the sm partition and sm format commands to format the external storage. Replace <diskname> with your drive:

sm partition disk:<diskname> public
sm partition disk:<diskname> private 

sm list-volumes
sm unmount <privatevolname>
sm format <privatevolname>

This partitions and formats the drive properly for adopted use.

Enabling Adoptable Storage

  1. Now run these ADB commands to enable adoptable storage, replacing <diskname> with your actual disk:
sm set-force-adoptable true
sm set-force-adoptable false
sm set-force-adoptable true
  1. Reboot your Android TV device and adoptable storage should be enabled!

  2. Check Settings > Storage, select your drive, and choose "Migrate data" to complete the process.

With the steps above, you can manually activate adoptable storage on any Android TV even without native support. Be sure to use reliable ADB tools to avoid any issues.

Choosing the Best External Drive for Adoptable Storage

For the best performance, you‘ll want an external drive that‘s reasonably fast in terms of sequential read/write speeds.

Your options are portable SSDs, flash drives, and microSD cards. Avoid old mechanical hard drives – they are too slow for adopted storage.

Here is a comparison of the average performance for each option:

Drive Type Read Speed Write Speed
Portable SSD 400MB/s 300MB/s
USB 3.0 Flash 100MB/s 50MB/s
MicroSD Card 90MB/s 20MB/s

I recommend sticking with a portable SSD or USB 3.0 flash drive from a reputable brand. Here are some examples:

  • SSD: Samsung T5 Portable SSD, SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD
  • Flash drive: SanDisk Ultra Fit, Samsung BAR Plus, PNY Elite-X Fit

The two most important factors are using USB 3.0+ and picking a drive from a major brand. The specs must indicate:

  • USB 3.1 or 3.2 Gen 1/Gen 2: This indicates USB 3.0 or higher speed.

  • Sequential read/write speeds of at least 100MB/s: Faster is better especially for write speed.

Lower quality drives may have read speeds of 100MB/s but write speeds of only 10-30MB/s. That will significantly impact performance of apps on the adopted storage.

Stick with major brands like Samsung, Western Digital, and SanDisk. Avoid generic no-name USB drives. The extra few dollars are worth it.

Lastly, you may run into some hiccups activating or using adopted storage. Let‘s go over some troubleshooting tips.

Troubleshooting Common Adoptable Storage Problems

Adoptable storage is generally hassle-free on compatible Android TV models. But issues can arise occasionally especially when manually enabling it.

Here are some common problems and their solutions:

Can‘t locate the external drive in settings – Reconnect the drive, reboot your device, and verify USB debugging is enabled in developer options. Also try a different USB port on the Android TV box. There may be power issues with some ports.

Apps randomly crashing or freezing – This is likely due to a slow external drive. Adopted storage requires faster read/write speeds. Try a different USB drive or microSD card.

Adopted drive suddenly not recognized – Sudden disconnects are common if the drive enclosure is loose or cord is bumped. Reboot both the drive and Android TV device to regain access. Avoid using low-quality micro-USB cables prone to disconnecting.

Missing apps or app data after migration – On rare occasions an app may not properly transfer over to adopted storage. You may need to reinstall the app and migrate again. Back up important app data beforehand.

Errors adopting OTF encrypted drives – Some SSDs come encrypted out-of-the-box which can cause issues. You‘ll need to format and decrypt those drives before adopting them. The manufacturer‘s decrypt tool can unlock the SSD.

Android TV lag after adopt – Large 100GB+ external drives can sometimes introduce minor lag if nearly full. For smoothest operation, keep at least 10-15% free space. You can also disable analytics and backgrounds processes to reclaim system resources.

With high-quality USB drives, adoptable storage issues are infrequent. But the above guidance helps troubleshoot when weird issues do pop up.

Final Thoughts on Adoptable Storage for Android TV

Adoptable storage delivers effortless internal memory expansion for storing apps, games, and personal media. With the right external drive, you can quadruple or quintuple the usable storage on an Android TV device.

Both newer compatible models and older non-supporting boxes can utilize adopted storage. Manual ADB commands enable the feature on any Android TV running Android 5.1 or higher.

For optimal performance, invest in a quality flash drive or SSD from a leading brand. Pay close attention to rated read/write speeds. This ensures smooth streaming and gameplay.

After properly setting up adoptable storage, you‘ll have ample space to build out your entertainment hub and enjoy Android TV to its full potential!


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.