How to Play an External Hard Drive on a DVD Player

Updated July 20, 2017

Most current DVD players, in addition to playing physical DVD movies, also have the capability to play various forms of media--videos, music and even pictures--from a compatible USB hard drive. Unfortunately, because most USB hard drives come formatted in the NTFS file system and most DVD players are only able to read drives formatted in the FAT32 system, some tweaking and a bit of reformatting is needed before DVD players can play any media from an external hard drive. This is not all that difficult a task to undertake.

Plug the hard drive's USB cable into the USB port on the back of the hard drive, then plug the other end into one of your computer's free USB ports.

Turn on your computer and your USB hard drive.

Click the "Start" button when the operating system has finished loading and click the "Run" option.

Type "CMD" into the text box, then press "Enter."

Type "Format /FS:FAT32 X:" into the command prompt, replacing the letter "X" with the drive letter of your USB hard drive. If you do not know the drive letter of your hard drive, open "My Computer" and look under "Devices with removable storage." Press "Enter" when you are ready to format.

Press "Y" when prompted--assuming you are ready to format the hard drive. Keep in mind that all data present on the drive will be irretrievably erased once it has been formatted. After you press "Y," Windows will format the USB hard drive to the FAT32 file system.

Load the files you wish to play on your DVD player onto the USB hard drive. Bear in mind that the FAT32 file system cannot support files larger than four gigabytes, so plan accordingly.

Unplug the USB cord from the computer's USB port and plug it into your DVD player. Turn on the TV and the DVD player and select "USB Device"--it may be labelled differently depending on your DVD player--to access the USB hard drive. From there, simply select the media you wish to view and press "Play."

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About the Author

Joshua Benjamin began as a professional freelance writer in 2009. He has successfully published numerous articles spanning a broad range of topics. Benjamin's areas of expertise include auto repair, computer hardware and software, firearms operation and maintenance, and home repair and maintenance. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration from California State University, Fresno.