The lights are on
You may have heard that there’s no way to actively manage your hard drive space on the Xbox One. This is by design, as a combination of cloud storage and the Xbox One hardware handles that for users.
“Xbox One was designed to make storage management automatic,” a Microsoft representative told us via email. “For saved games, settings, and other information that Xbox One customers save to the cloud, space is virtually unlimited. On the internal hard drive in each Xbox One, games and apps can be uninstalled or reinstalled instantly with the click of the Xbox One menu button.
“Saved games and settings information is retrieved from the cloud for any game as its being reinstalled. By being smart about how storage is managed, Xbox One keeps everyone playing, watching, and sharing their entertainment content rather than worry about limitations. You can also see how much storage any app uses by pressing the menu button on that app.”
In other words, storage management happens game by game and app by app. You can’t see a list of installed content in one place like you can on Xbox 360.
We followed up to ask what happens if the cloud is inaccessible (due to servicing or other outage).
“In Xbox One your game progress, purchase history, pins, and activity history available to you wherever you are when you want to play because they are stored in the cloud,” the spokesperson told us. “Everything stored locally on the console is just a cache that enables you to play offline, track achievement progress offline, and more. When you reconnect we will sync your progress in the game and sync your achievements. If you remain connected to the cloud, your game progress will always be available in the cloud so you can pick up where you left off in the game from any Xbox One you play the game on; if not, it is stored locally on the console.”
This ensures that you’ll able to play offline with your most recent progress, provided the last time you played was either connected to the cloud or offline on the same console. If the cloud should ever go down for servicing, chances are you’ll be able to access your data. For more on the Xbox One launch, check out our coverage hub and initial impressions. (Note: You do not need to be an Xbox Live Gold member to take advantage of cloud-based saves.)
Our TakeGiven the broad shift in strategy from the May announcement through post-E3, I suspect that many of these offline features were added back in. This is similar to how things work on the Xbox 360 if you opt to use cloud storage. If you’re doing that now, you should know exactly what to expect on Xbox One.