How Do I Use a USB Hard Drive With the Xbox 360?

By Marie Cartwright

i Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you want more storage space on your Xbox 360 or need a way to access the media on your computer through your console, hooking up an external hard drive makes both of these things possible. Though the Xbox 360 does include USB ports, setting up your drive takes a little more preparation than just plugging it in.

Why Use An External Drive?

Xbox 360 owners often use their console for much more than just gaming. The Xbox 360 is capable of playing videos and music as well. Though the console does come with internal memory, some users need more space. Hooking up an external drive also gives you the freedom to access media through different devices, such as on both your Xbox 360 and your PC.


The Xbox 360 is compatible with most external hard drives but only allows you to use a maximum of 16 gigabytes regardless of the size of the hard drive. External hard drives also cannot be used until they have been properly formatted. To format your hard drive, connect the device to your PC. You will need to note the drive letter assigned to the device. Then open a command prompt window by typing "Cmd" within the search bar in the Start menu. Enter the following command:

format/FS:FAT32 F:

You will need to replace "F" with whatever the drive letter is. Formatting your drive may take a few moments. Once the process is complete, your drive is ready to hook up to your Xbox 360.


Attaching external devices to an Xbox 360 is a piece of cake: Simply plug the USB interface on the hard drive into an empty USB port on the console. Next, turn on the Xbox 360, and navigate to the "System Settings" menu under "My Xbox." From there, you need to select the appropriate configuration option for your drive. One option erases all data on the drive before formatting it. The other option configures only a limited amount of space for Xbox 360 use, leaving any data on the drive untouched.

Accessing the Drive

Once your drive is hooked up, use your controller to navigate to the "Media" menu. Scroll down to find the "Portable Device" listing. Opening the device will reveal all files and folders on the hard drive. Though you will not be able to move old saved games to your external hard drive, you will have the option of choosing which location to save to when saving a new game.