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How to Use your own Hard Drive on a Xbox 360

Ive always been faced with the difficulty of overloading my Xbox 360 with too much stuff. With its meager 20 gb of space it really doesn't take any work to run out of space on an xbox. I alone have 15 gb of music not including all the movies, games, etc i want to put on my xbox. If i did want to put something new on it, i would by faced with two choices

a. buy the new 120gb hard drive for an outrageous price ($180) provided by Microsoft
b. keep deleting stuff and replacing with other stuff

But there is a solution without sacrificing your precious media or selling a leg to buy another hard drive.

How to Use your own External Hard Drive on an Xbox 360
The great part of this procedure is it's so easy to do

1. Since you'll be needing a hard drive for this, attain one by whatever means necessary, (ie. internet or local electronics store)

make sure it has a USB drive, not firewire.
- make sure that it's powered by the usb cord rather than an additional power cord (though a hard drive with a power cord will work with the xbox, with the usb cord the drive wont be required to be plugged into the wall, just into the xbox.

i would recommend buying the WD Passport 120gb Drive ($89 unlike xbox's $180 drive) It likewise has a 120gb plus it's small, sleek, and stylish.

2. NTFS or FAT: time to check if your drive is either NTFS or FAT. Xbox 360 can only read drives formatted as FAT so we're going to have to find out what you have.

Plug your hard drive into your computer.

  • Windows: Click the start menu and then find my computer. Now that your in the my computer section, navigate to the hard drive you just plugged it, it'll have a letter like (F:), just make sure it isn't the one labeled Local Disk. Once you located the drive right click and in the pop up window scroll down to properties, There will be a window that pops up, on the window search for where it says File System, next to file system it will say either NTFS or FAT. If its FAT skip the step 3, if its NTFS move on the next step.
  • Mac OS X: Find the Hard Drive on your Mac Desktop. Once located, hold Ctrl on your keyboard and click on the hard drive logo. Once clicked, a tab will pop up, click on Get Info, another pain will pop up (ie. WD passport info.) In about the middle of the page it will say Format and next to format it will say either "windows NT filesystem" or "MS-DOS File system. MS-DOS File System is FAT, so if that shows up skip step 3, the formating step.
Good News: Most external hard drives that you buy including the recommended WDPassport drive come out of the box in FAT32 format so you'll probaly not need to format it.

3. How to Format

  • Windows: Download Partition Magic ($69), or if your not willing to pool out $69 (i wouldn't) click this link that has a more more tedious but completely free way to reformat your drive
  • Mac: Download either VolumeWorks ($59) or iPartition ($32), follow the directions in the app. Though you can do all the the formating work, i just bought another Hard Drive and dedicated it for my xbox 360 media (movies and music,) which made it unnecessary to do the tedious task of reformatting.

4. Transfer:
transfer movies, music, pictures, etc. from your computer on your FAT hard drive

5. Enjoy: Plug your hard drive into the xbox 360 and enjoy movies, pictures, and all your music, without compromising the 20gb hard drive that came with your xbox

If you own a mac and would like to stream to your xbox360, you might enjoy this article

Mac + Xbox360 = Media Center

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Dave said...

Can you put saved games on there and download media from marketplace on it?


Anonymous said...

To Dave:

No, you cannot download anything from the marketplace onto the HD or save games to it

Intelli Mind said...

unfortunately you cant since the usb drives on an xbox are read only.

i still find it useful though, i can play my whole itunes library without compromising any space left for games. also since the hard drive is small i can bring my entire music collection, movies, and pictures to other peoples xbox's and still play the content.

Steve said...

Or you can just go into Windows Media Player, click Library -> share Media -> check the box to share media and select the Xbox 360 as the place to share media with. VIOLA! You can now stream all the content from your hardrive to your 360 without an extra purchase!

Intelli Mind said...

ya thats is completely true, my directions are an alternative for people that arnt connected to the internet or want to take their media around to other xboxs an such

Anonymous said...

Is there anyway to replace the USB receivers to make them read and write??

Alex (Intellimind) said...

to anonymous: not that i know of at the time.

007Ace said...

Just so you know, the xbox can read more than just FAT.
Since fat is limited to 2gig files, (and HD Movies are usually more) youll need another filesystem.
It can read Fat Xtaf (Which is just fat backwards with an x to make it look cool) HFS (which is what is on the iPod doesnt have that 2 gig limit)
It also reads UDF... although Im having a hard time formatting a drive to it. if anyone has more info that would be great.

Hope I helped

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