How to Use a Regular External Hard Drive on an Xbox 360

By Randy Begel

Updated September 22, 2017

Your Xbox 360 won't know what to do with all that extra space! Well, anything over 32GB per partition anyway.
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Odds are good that if you've been using your Xbox 360 for any period of time, your console's Hard Drive is stuffed to the gills with Xbox LIVE Arcade titles, HD texture packs, downloadable content and personal media. If you find yourself frequently wrestling with the decision of what you can afford to delete to get your space back, adding an external hard drive is an easy solution to your storage woes.

Compatibility Requirements for an External Drive

Your external hard drive or flash drive must meet two criteria to be compatible with an Xbox 360: Have at least 1GB storage capacity and use the FAT32 file system. You can check your external drive by connecting it to your computer and opening the Properties menu. If the file system is listed as FAT32 you're ready to connect the drive to your Xbox 360, otherwise you'll need to reformat the drive.

Reformatting an External Drive for use with an Xbox 360

If your external drive lists a file system other than FAT32, you will need to reformat the drive. To do so, "Right-click" the drive's icon and select Format from the menu. Select FAT32 from the File System dropdown menu and "Left-click" Start.

Warning: Reformatting your the drive will erase all data on the disk! Make sure to back up any information you want to keep.

Configuring Your External Drive With Your Xbox 360

Connect your compatible external drive to your Xbox 360 through an available USB port. Navigate to the Settings menu and select System, then select Storage. In this list, your external drive will be displayed as USB Storage Device. Select Configure Now and wait until you are given confirmation that your drive is now ready for use. The configured device will now be listed as a Memory Unit in the Storage menu.

Using Your External Hard Drive With Games

Storing new saved game data on your new Memory Unit is as simple as choosing the device from the available options when prompted by a game to select its storage location.

You can also install a game to your external drive by highlighting the game from the Home or My Games menu, pressing "X" to open the Game Details menu, selecting Install and finally selecting the Memory Unit as the desired storage device.

Getting the Most Out of your External Drive

  • If you wish to restrict the amount of space used by the Xbox 360 to less than the default 32GB, you may set the desired amount in the Customize menu just underneath Configure Now.

  • After configuration, you might see a warning informing you that your device doesn't meet the performance requirements recommended for a storage device.You will still be able to use the device as a Memory Unit but may experience poor performance under some circumstances.

  • To rename your Memory Unit to something more specific, highlight it in the Storage menu and press "Y" to open the Device Options. The option to Rename the device will be at the top of the list.