This question might have been asked several time but I wasn't able to find a concrete answer and also I'm pretty new at the whole Rasberry Pi party .

Can I plug an external Hard Drive through the USB port of a Raspberry Pi and the plug that Raspberry Pi through HMDI to a TV and play an avi/(other formats) video that is stored in the hard drive?

If yes, what program to I need to put in the SD card of the Pi?

Also, is there a limit of how big my flash drive or Hard drive can be? for instance if I put a whole season of a TV show like 32GB can I play it this way?

Thank you very much guys, I'd appreciate ur help

  • 1
    Felipe, did you try simply googling any of these questions? All of this information could easily be found online. As is, I'm suggesting this be closed as being too broad.
    – Jacobm001
    Nov 25, 2015 at 0:33
  • 1
    Generally speaking, "yes" but there can be some real practical issues. Try something like kodi, or at a less integrated level, ffmpeg or vlc. Nov 25, 2015 at 3:19

1 Answer 1


Yes you should be able to - but you likely will be limited by the Pi might not be able to provide enough power through the USB for the hard drive (this depends on which Pi version and what hard drive you are using), so you probably will need to use a powered USB hub - hard drives work by spinning platters so can draw a lot of current, whilst USB sticks and SSDs shouldn't need as much power. The limit to the size of available flash or hard drive depends on how big that drive is.

For playing media files you can simply install a program to play videos (if you are using Raspbian OS) - for example omxplayer [ 1] [2] or vlc, then you can play the video via the HDMI display output (perhaps on a desktop). If you want to dedicate the Pi to playing video output, you could try a more optimized distro on the Pi such as OpenELEC or OSMC, which I think use XBMC.

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