How to Update My XBox 360 to Play XBox Games

By Sam Eggleston

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Xbox 360

  • Hard disk drive (HDD) accessory

  • Xbox Live account (optional)

  • CD/DVD burner (optional)

Upgrading to an Xbox 360 doesn't mean you have to lose out on playing your favorite Xbox games. The Xbox 360 just needs a hard disk drive and a quick update to make it compatible with first-generation Xbox titles. Updating is easy, with three different options available as of 2009.

Download the update with Xbox Live. Turn on your Xbox 360 by pressing the circle button on the front of your console. Activate your Xbox Live account--if it isn't your default account--by selecting it from the list of users on the main dashboard screen. You do not need a Gold membership to get the free update.

Start the process. Put an original Xbox title into the console, which will begin the process automatically. According to Xbox support's website, once the process begins, it must be completed. Any future updates will be installed automatically when an original Xbox title is played on the 360 console.

Download the update. Download the update by visiting the Xbox support page and opening the zipped file once it is on your computer. If you are using Windows XP, you can open the zipped file as if it were a regular folder. If using an older version of Windows, you will need to use a program to unzip the file first.

Burn a CD or DVD. According to the Xbox support page, the file must be the only one on the disc--and not in a folder or directory-- and must be named default.xex to operate properly. Insert a blank CD or DVD into your CD or DVD burner and burn the file you've downloaded. Remove the disc and place it in the Xbox 360 and select "Continue" once the program begins automatically. Allow the program to complete and the system will restart automatically. It will be updated.

Request a disc from Microsoft. You can use the Xbox support webpage to order a disc from Microsoft that will update your console for you in case neither of the other options are viable. There is a fee, which the Xbox page lists as "nominal," to order the disc. Once the disc arrives, place it in your Xbox 360 and the program will begin automatically. Once it finishes, your system will restart and original titles will be supported.


According to Xbox's website, burning the program to a disc works best if DVDs are used. The site lists the DVDs as better that CDs, which are better that CDRW discs for updating the console.


Not all original titles are supported by the Xbox 360, even with the update. Make sure the title is supported by visiting the Xbox support webpage.