Roku Device Features, Settings & Updates

Help configuring Roku device settings, using Roku OS features such as screen mirroring, adjusting display type and audio settings, using Guest Mode, and assistance with software updates.
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rogalskij
Level 7

USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

I have a Roku Ultra which works great. I want to purchase a slim external 2tb or larger USB hard drive that gets ALL its power from the Rokus USB port. I have tried to find one that utilizes 500mah or less that the Ultra can supply but haven't had much luck. Does anyone have a suggestion of a 2TB or larger external drive that will work consistently on a Roku Ultra? Thank you all very much.
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25 Replies
atc98092
Level 13

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

I don't recommend using a external drive that doesn't have its own power source. That's just placing too much of a load on the Roku supply. Yes, they rate them for a certain power level, but honestly I would prefer to keep the load lower. 
Dan
Nvidia Shield, Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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rogalskij
Level 7

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

I was merely hoping for a non powered drive for aesthetics.  I hate the way too many cables looks but obviously that is secondary to a drive that doesn't work properly.  I have a flash drive now, but that just isn't enough space when playing video. I had heard that USB 2.0 non powered external drives work well, but finding one is proving a bit of a challenge compared to USB 3.0 which are all over 500mah.
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atc98092
Level 13

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

I might suggest a powered USB hub, which can be tucked out of the way and only have the single USB cable running to the Roku. I believe that would also allow more than one hard drive as well, so you could have a more extensive storage solution.
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However, for a large number of media files (especially movies), my recommendation would be to build a media server. I have 7 hard drives in mine, with almost 20 TB of space available. Only about half full  Smiley LOL. The main advantage to a media server is that you can share the media to any device on your network, all at the same time, and potentially outside the network. You also don't have to worry about files that aren't compatible with a Roku, as they can be transcoded. I use both Plex and Serviio. With Plex, I can watch any of my movies with my Roku Stick at the hotel I'm currently in across the country. Serviio also has a web interface if I didn't have my Roku available. I can access my Plex server from a web browser as well, but it's a little more work. 
Dan
Nvidia Shield, Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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dgrace
Level 7

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

I thought that I read sometime back that roku didn't support the use of hubs?
I use an old laptop harddrive in a $10 enclosure, and it's powered by usb, works fine. I'd think that doing so on any size 2.5" drive would work also, but one that size would be costly. 
"I might be moving to Montana soon..."
FZ
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rogalskij
Level 7

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

Interesting dgrace.  I wonder if it was because the enclosure was USB 2.0 which has a lower power draw?  I am tempted to just purchase the drive I was looking at ( WD 3TB Elements 3TB Portable External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBU6Y0030BBK-WESN) and see if it just works.  I might get lucky, and I could always return it. 
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RokuMarkn
Level 7

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

USB hubs should work fine with any Roku model that supports USB.
I believe the Ultra supplies 500 mA through the USB port, so a drive which draws more than 500 mA from the USB port probably won't work well.

--Mark
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rogalskij
Level 7

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

I had read the Ultra supplied 500mA as well.  Any word on models of hard drive that work well with the Ultra? 
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tanguero
Level 7

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

The USB port, designed to be used with the Media Player internal app to play media from USB drives, is just plain defective in design. Since this was the main reason I bought the Ultra model, it was clearly a disappointment, to say the least. The problem is that the port does not provide the required current to power anything other than a pen drive. None of three hard drives I tried with it, by different manufacturers, worked, all giving clear signs of being underpowered. One gave the "repeated clicks of death" (but fortunately the drive was still fine afterwards), and the other two put the Roku into a reset loop (also signs of poor design). Roku's own page states that the port should drive 500 mA (the absolute minimum required by the USB 2.0 standard), but it apparently doesn't even do that since 2 of the 3 drives I tried were USB 2.0 drives (which by the USB 2.0 specifications are not permitted to draw more than 500 mA--USB 3.0 drives can draw up to 600 mA). So you need a powered USB hub to connect a hard drive to your Roku, though I haven't tried this so don't know if even this will work. FWIW, the Roku 3 and Roku 4 provided significantly more power (around 1A each), so don't know why this downgrade on the Ultra. The USB port does work fine with USB pen drives, but it's still of limited use because ...

The Media Player app basically just supports H.264 in MP4 or MKV containers. Forget about playing any .mpeg, .mov, .avi, .flv, .avchd, .mkv with any coding other than H.264, etc., etc. Any cheap media player can do better. Really strange, considering their support of audio and photo formats is much better, and that video is supposedly Roku's main game. So even if the USB port worked, it would be all but useless owing to a poor media player.

I should have stuck with the Premier+ and got a separate well designed USB media player. The USB port on the Ultra, along with the App that uses it, is a poorly designed and poorly implemented afterthought. One can hope that a firmware update will improve the video support, but the underpowered USB defect we're stuck with, unfortunately.
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rogalskij
Level 7

Re: USB hard drive for Roku Ultra

I agree with your assessment Tanguero!  The USB port is a must for me, and while it works fine with my usb flash drive, I would really like to have a 2tb or larger drive so I don't have to manage the library of video files I have.  I can survive the lack of file format support (it is annoying though), but the usb port should be usb 3.0 compatible and power any and all devices.  Buyer be warned, this is something that is a bummer on an otherwise AMAZING device! 
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