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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.