How to Change the XBox 360 DVD Drive Key
By Marshal M. Rosenthal
Updated September 22, 2017
Items you will need
Long, thin stick
Replacement DVD drive
The Xbox 360 is designed so that the DVD drive that is used to play game discs works only with the particular game console it is installed in. Replacing a defective DVD drive with a replacement DVD drive does not work, since the replacement has a different DVD drive key, which the game console won't accept. Changing the DVD drive key of a DVD drive enables it to be recognized by and work with the Xbox 360 and saves the cost of an expensive repair. Do not attempt to change the DVD drive key if you are uncomfortable removing the DVD drive from the Xbox 360 or installing a DVD drive into a computer.
Removing the DVD Drive From the Xbox 360
Remove all of the cables connected to the Xbox 360 and put it down horizontally on a table. Squeeze the left side of the top of the faceplate with one hand while putting two fingers of the other hand inside of the USB door at the bottom of the faceplate. Lift up on the USB door while pulling the top of the faceplate to remove it from the Xbox 360's case.
Push the right side panel of the Xbox 360 in. Insert the long, thin stick between the side panel and the case and unhook the four clips holding the interior piece of gray plastic to the case. Press the Power button on the front of the Xbox and unhook the four clips holding the interior piece of gray plastic that is at the left side of the case in a similar manner to what was done on the right side.
Turn the Xbox 360 over and place it face down on the table. Lift up the bottom shelf of the case and remove all of the screws inside using the Torx screwdriver. Return the Xbox 360 to its upright position on the table. Lift up on the top of the case to remove the case from the bottom. Put it aside. Pull off the two side panels and put them aside. Pull off the back panel and put it aside.
Remove the four screws holding the DVD drive to the bottom of the case using the Phillips-head screwdriver. Pick up the DVD drive and hold it over the bottom case. Pull out the power plug from the back of the DVD drive by squeezing both sides of the plug and pulling it straight out. Squeeze both sides of the ribbon cable attached to the DVD drive and pull it straight out. Take the DVD drive over to the computer.
Changing the DVD Drive Key
Turn off the computer. Remove the power plug from the connector on the computer. Open the computer's case. Put the Xbox 360 DVD drive into one of the empty DVD bays of the computer. Attach the power plug from inside of the drive bay to the power connector on the DVD drive. Attach the ribbon cable from inside of the drive bay to the connector on the DVD drive. Close the computer's case and turn the computer on.
Download and install the 360 Firmware Toolbox program to the desktop of the computer (see link in Resources). Restart the computer once installation is complete. Run the 360 Firmware Toolbox program.
Select "Tools," "Direct Drive Dump" then "Raw Dump" from the window that appears. Name the file that is going to be made "OriginalXbox" in the open column next to "Name." Click on the "Save" button to save the "OriginalXbox" file to the computer's hard drive.
Click "No" when the window pops up to ask if you want to see the file. Quit the 360 program, turn off the computer and open the case. Replace the Xbox 360 DVD drive with the replacement DVD drive and attach the connections to the replacement DVD drive. Open the DVD tray and put a Xbox 360 game disc on the disc tray. Close the disc tray and turn the computer back on.
Run the 360 Firmware Toolbox program and repeat the process of saving the file from the replacement DVD drive. Name this file "ReplacementXBox." Click "Yes" when the window pops up to ask if you want to see the file. Select "Tools," then "Spoof Firmware" from the 360 Firmware Toolbox program's File menu. Select the most recent version of the Firmware listed in the column of the window that appears. Click on the "Apply Spoof" button at the bottom of the window. Select "Tools," then "Smart Hack Patcher" and click on "OK" on the window that appears. Name the file you are about to make "Final" in the "Name" column of the window that appears. Click on the "Generate File" button. Click "No" when asked in a new window if you want to see the file that has been generated.
Press the "Browse" button on the 360 Firmware Toolbox program. Navigate in the window that appears to the "OriginalXbox" file that is on the computer’s hard drive. Highlight the "OriginalXbox" file and click the "Open" button to close the window and load the "OriginalXbox" file into the 360 Firmware Toolbox program.
Highlight the "Key Information @" column at the center of the 360 Firmware Toolbox program. Copy the file's name by pressing "Control+C." Click the "Browse" button and navigate in the window that appears to the "ReplacementXBox" file on the computer’s hard drive. Highlight the "ReplacementXBox" file and click on the "Open" button on the window to close the window and load the "OriginalXbox" file into the 360 Firmware Toolbox program.
Paste the old key into the "Key Information @" window on the 360 Firmware Toolbox program by pressing "Control+V." Press the "Replace Key" button on the 360 Firmware Toolbox program to update the firmware of the replacement DVD drive.
Go to "Tools," then "Direct Drive Flash," then "Differential Flash Patch" and select the name of the replacement DVD drive in the column at the center of the 360 Firmware Toolbox program. Click the "Read Drive and Detect Differences" button. Choose "No" when asked if you want to keep the keys from the drive. Click "Start Flashing" in the new window that appears. Select "Flash mode" and click "OK." Quit the 360 Firmware Toolbox program. Turn off the computer.
Disconnect all of the connections from the computer to the replacement DVD drive. Close up the computer's case. Attach the replacement DVD drive to the Xbox 360 in place of the original DVD drive. Reassemble the Xbox 360. Reattach all the cables to the Xbox 360, turn it on and use the replacement DVD that is now inside of it with the changed DVD key that lets it work with the game console.
An anti-static strap prevents static electricity from damaging the internal components of the Xbox 360.
The Xbox 360's warranty is voided if the Xbox is opened up by the owner.
Marshal M. Rosenthal is a technology maven with more than 15 years of editorial experience. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography with a Bachelor of Arts in photographic arts, his editorial work has appeared both domestically as well as internationally in publications such as "Home Theater," "Electronic House," "eGear," "Computer and Video Games" and "Digitrends."