Why does my Roku® streaming device not recognize my external USB drive?


Some Roku streaming devices include a USB port to which you can connect an external USB drive for playing locally stored photo, audio, and video files. If you have a Roku TV, then you can also use a USB drive to pause live television.

This article will help you determine why your Roku device cannot detect your USB drive.

USB drive filesystem format is not supported

USB drives can be formatted with different file systems. Roku devices support USB drives that are formatted with the FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, EXT3, and HFS+ file systems. Many new USB drives are pre-formatted with the exFAT file system, which is not supported.

If you don’t know which file system is used, insert the USB drive into an available USB port on your computer. When the drive appears on the desktop, right click on the icon with your mouse and select Properties on your PC, or Get info on your Mac.

  • Note: If you are using the USB drive to pause live television on a Roku TV, then the filesystem format does not matter as you will be prompted to reformat the drive.

USB drive may not have sufficient power

There are many types of USB drives, from large external hard drives to smaller thumb drives. It is important to note that different drives have different power requirements – for example, some USB hard drives have an external power adapter that must be connected to a power outlet.

The most common reason the Roku device may fail to detect the USB drive is that USB drive requires more power than the Roku device can provide.

You may also see this message:

If the USB drive has indicator LEDs, they may also turn red or flash to indicate insufficient power.

What should I do?

  1. If your USB drive comes with an external power adapter, then connect it to a power outlet.
  2. If your USB drive does NOT come with an external power adapter, you will need to use a powered USB hub.

Connecting your USB drive to a powered USB hub

Some powered USB hubs require a specific “order of operation” to work correctly. If after following the instructions provided with your USB hub, the USB drive is still not recognized, we suggest trying the following methods:

  • Method 1:

    1. Connect the USB hub to the USB port on the powered up Roku device
    2. Turn on the power to the USB hub
    3. Connect the USB drive to the USB hub.

    Method 2:

    1. Connect the USB drive to the USB hub
    2. Turn on the power to the USB hub
    3. Wait 10 seconds
    4. Connect the USB hub to the USB port on the powered up Roku device

If you are using a non-powered USB hub

If you have a non-powered USB hub connected to the USB port in the Roku device, then you should try the following:

  1. Remove the hub and connect the USB drive directly to the Roku device
  2. Reduce the number of devices connected to the USB hub
  3. Replace the non-powered USB hub with a powered USB hub

Pro Tips

The tips below are of a technical nature and are provided for advanced users.

  1. In general, USB 3.0 drives will work in USB 2.0 mode on Roku devices.

  2. When using Ext2 or Ext3 Linux filesystems, it is important that files are created with permissions set for all to read.

  3. The following table lists the approximate maximum amount of current that the different types of Roku devices can supply. Compare it with the amount needed by your nonpowered USB devices being connected to the Roku device.

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