Create partition for Xbox 360 without formatting or converting USB hard disk to Fat32

External USB Storage Disk

External USB Storage Disk

I have an external hard disk with NTFS file system which is nearly full of “important” stuff and I want to use it with my Xbox 360. But when I looked up online for a guide to do it, all the guides required the hard disk to either have Fat32 file system or required me to format the hard drive and create a Fat32 partition. [e.g., Guide-1, Guide-2, Guide-3, ...]. Because Fat32 file-system has certain limitation, it doesn’t allow files over 4GB size and I did not want to lose such files. Besides, NTFS is way better than Fat32. But I din’t find any guide which allowed to keep my existing data without converting the file system to Fat32. Here is the reason all the guides required to have Fat32 file system only – because Microsoft Xbox 360 simply won’t support a file system developed by Microsoft and supposed to supersede Fat32. Bummer! Isn’t it?

But after experimenting with a SanDisk 8GB pen drive and a spare Western Digital 750GB Hard disk, I came up with an original (at least I think it is original) solution. 

The trick lies in the 2 options presented when you plug-in your hard disk and navigate to Settings->Storage->(your storage device)->Configure USB Storage:

  1. Configure now
  2. Customize
If you select 1. Configure Now, it will format your whole hard drive and create a Fat32 partition.
If you select 2. Customize, it will try to find a primary Fat32 partition, erase that particular partition only and configure it for use with Xbox.
So here is how I configured my Western Digital 2TB external hard disk with 1.5TB of “important” data using a free software – Partition Wizard:
  1. Connect to a Windows PC.
  2. Shrink size of any existing partition (in my case 2TB NTFS partition) by X GB. (Replace X with any number of GBs you want to be available for Xbox) (Guide)
  3. Create a new Fat32 primary (must be primary, otherwise you will end up formatting whole hard disk) partition of X GB (Space freed up in Step-1) (Guide)
  4. Plug it in to XBox
  5. Go to Xbox Settings->Storage->(Your storage device)->Configure USB Storage, select 2. Customize, reserve all 32 GB (it is up to you how much storage you need, max is 32GB) for game profiles and downloadable content
  6. Wait for completion. Once ready, you will have 32 GB of space available for Xbox Game save and other downloadable content. Rest (X-32) GB will be available for you to store any files from your PC. Note: Max size that Xbox can reserve for Game save and downloadable content is 32GB. (increased from 16GB in recent updates for smart glass).
  7. Use original partition  (in my case (2TB – XGB) NTFS partition) for primary storage, and newly created and configured Fat32 partition for Xbox media content.
Now, at any point of time in future, I can:
  • Backup 32GB XBox 360 files from Fat32 partition.
  • Resize any partition of the hard disk, even the Fat32 partition configured by Xbox.

My advice for you is to do a test run on a pen drive or a spare hard disk before trying it on your hard disk with really important stuff.

Hope this guide helps, let me know if you have any comments/suggestions.

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About Harshit Sanghvi

GEEK, Technophile, Gadget-Freak, Movie Addict, Instagrammer

8 responses to “Create partition for Xbox 360 without formatting or converting USB hard disk to Fat32”

  1. Jeffrey says :

    Great article mate, can’t believe no one else has said anything.

    It would make it easier if there was screenshots instead of links and a bit more detail with how to use the program (for those who aren’t as tech savvy).

    Just wondering, how do you resize the Xbox partition. I guess you just use the partition wizard again but then wouldn’t the xbox want to format after you’ve changed something?

  2. Andrew Hildebrand says :

    A+ article man.

    I just used this step-by-step for Grand Theft Auto 5 which requires 8gigs installed to even play. When I got home I somehow couldn’t find my 32gb usb stick and freaked out. My only alternative was my external HD with TONS of important TV shows / movies over 1TB of data. Following this guide I was so scared to hit “customize” on the 360 after I created a seperate partition. However it detected the seperate partition perfectly and set up the profiles with no problem. I made sure to plug my external back into my PC to ensure the 360 didn’t format any other files, which it did not. 100% safe on my side.

    GTA V is installing as I type this, thanks so much for the help!!!

  3. Pablo Pereyra Sagárnaga says :

    Nice article! It saved my life! Now I can play GTA V =)
    I recommend to use EaseUS Partition Manager to partition and make the primary drive.

  4. Richie says :

    PCs come with a utility called Disk Management that you can use to create partitions. You can find it in the control panel. Wouldn’t that work just as well if you have a PC? No need to download another program.

  5. Sidhant Saraogi says :

    This post rocked …….. you rock ……….you saved me a good 10$ today !!! GTA 5 installing …… just cause of you ….Thanx !!

  6. Renjith V K says :

    I think you get a better support from talkzoom. Its the best answer to your question How to partition a Hard Drive without formatting http://talkzoom.blogspot.com/2013/10/partition-hard-drive-without-formatting.html talkzoom. Its the best answer to your question

  7. CCLmuch says :

    I have done everything you’ve said and it works for a while then while it is formatting the 32GB it says that the action cannot be performed. Any idea what’s causing this?

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