Introduction: Original XBOX Hard Drive Upgrade

Picture of Original XBOX Hard Drive Upgrade

This instructable details the installation of a larger hard drive into a soft-modded original XBox.

Here I recount my experience upgrading the original factory hard drive of the XBox to a WD Caviar Blue 500 GB Desktop (3.5") drive (WD5000AAKB).

Step 1: Parts / Tools

Picture of Parts / Tools

For this instructable the following parts and tools are required:

- A Torx screwdriver
- A Molex hard drive power cable "Y" splitter
- A new hard drive for installation
- A modded XBox
- Chimp XBox Hard Drive cloning software (available at "usual places")

A list of compatible hard drives can be found at the Xbox Hard Drive Compatibility Chart.

Details on soft-modding the Xbox can be found in my previous instructable, Original XBOX Softmodding.

Step 2: Open the Case

Picture of Open the Case

Invert the Xbox on a flat surface and remove the five torx screws from the bottom using the screwdriver. The locations are shown in the photo below. Set the screws aside in a safe place.

Gently remove the top section of the Xbox case from the bottom.

Step 3: Prepare the Hard Drive for Cloning

Picture of Prepare the Hard Drive for Cloning

Next we must prepare the new hard drive for cloning. Following the instructions that came with your hard drive, set the unit to slave / secondary mode using the included plastic jumper.

For my unit this meant placing the jumper on the set of pins second from the right (see photo).

Step 4: Prepare the System for Hot-swap

Picture of Prepare the System for Hot-swap

The new hard drive will be cloned by 'hot-swapping' it with the DVD drive while the XBox is running. This is necessary as the DVD drive must hooked up in order for the system to boot.

Remove the molex power cable from the Xbox hard drive and attach the Y-splitter. Plug one of the other ends back into the Xbox hard drive and the other into the new hard drive.

Also loosen the IDE cable from the back of the DVD drive, making sure that it still remains attached.

Finally set the new hard drive into a position where the loosened IDE cable can be plugged in (on top of the DVD drive).

Step 5: Hot-swap the Hard Drive

Picture of Hot-swap the Hard Drive

Power on the XBox and allow it to boot into the dash. If the Xbox does not boot, make sure that you have not fully unplugged the DVD drive (it should be loose, but not unplugged)

Go to applications and start up the Chimp hard drive cloning application.

After the program has started, unplug the IDE cable from the DVD drive (gently!) and plug it into the new hard drive.

Step 6: Clone the Hard Drive

Picture of Clone the Hard Drive

Note that some controllers do not play nicely with the Chimp program. If you are having problems, try a different (preferably original Microsoft) controller.

Select option 1 in the program, scan IDE devices. The two hard drives should be detected.
Continue two step 2 - clone from master to slave. This step may take quite a while in the case of a large new hard drive.

After the cloning is complete, select option 3, lock slave drive.

When the lock succeeds, exit to shell and power off the system.

Unplug all cables from the 'new' hard drive, plug the IDE cable back into the DVD drive and unplug the molex Y cable.

Step 7: Remove the Hard Drive Bay

Picture of Remove the Hard Drive Bay

Next the hard drive bay taken out to allow the removal of the original hard drive.

Remove the PATA ribbon cable (gray) from the IDE connector at the back of the drive. This may require some adjusting as the connector may be pushed into place quite firmly.

Remove the long screws holding the bay into place and lift it out of place. Note there is one smaller screw under where the PATA cable previously used to run.

The power cable should be pulled out from the bracketing along the side of the bay to allow enough slack for the bay to be removed while the power cable remains plugged in.

Step 8: Remove Old Drive From Bay and Install New

Picture of Remove Old Drive From Bay and Install New

Remove the two screws on either side of the bay attaching the hard drive to the bay. Unplug the power cable, and set the old hard drive aside safely in case of future disasters.

Plug the cable into the new drive and install it into the bay. First line up the screw holes in the drive with those in the bay and then screw into place.

Replace the hard drive bay into the XBox chassis and screw back into place.

Step 9: Reassemble the Case

Picture of Reassemble the Case

Reassemble the XBox by reversing the actions of Step 2 (replace the cover and screws).

Step 10: Test & Enjoy!

Picture of Test & Enjoy!

Now plug in your XBox, cross your fingers and power it on! 

Should everything have proceeded smoothly, you should have a new large capacity hard drive in your XBox for all your media center needs!

If something went wrong, you may get an error message like the one in the photo. If this is the case, I recommend going back and repeating from Step 3.

In my case the drive was formatted with an 8 GB partition of the original data as well as ~140 GB and ~350 GB partitions.

As with the preceding instructable, I could not have done so without valuable information and walkthroughs from previous online authors, particularly those at afterdawn, xbox-scene and xbox-hq.

Hope the instructable was enjoyable and informative. Let me know what you think in the comments.


AndrewB503 (author)2017-09-02

Thank you! Worked like a charm.

tanner.wike.1 (author)2017-02-28

Just tried this with a Maxtor 5A320J0 and it says it cant be locked, any idea on how to lock it or a hard drive that will lock for sure to buy?

DarrenB64 (author)2016-09-17

My xbox freezes as soon as I remove the IDE cable from the back of the DVD drive and insert it into the back of the new HDD. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I'm following the instructions as written.

mintybreath (author)DarrenB642016-09-17

Just to offer my 2 cents. You may want to check that you have your master/slave setup correctly for your hard drives. I just installed a larger HDD in my xbox using a Sata-to-Ide adapter, and as it turns out the adapter had a Master/Slave jumper that I hadn't noticed. I'm not sure that its the same issue you are having though, as mine would freeze upon launching Chimp, not immediately.

DarrenB64 (author)mintybreath2016-09-28

Thanks! I'll give it a look. I know I had researched both drives to make sure I had the jumper placements correct, but that doesn't mean that I still didn't place them in the wrong spot...

michel.oliveira.33483 (author)2016-04-08

Thanks for this tutorial, it helped me a lot.

sudz28 (author)2016-01-27

Great tutorial, I was able to clone my stock 8GB Xbox harddrive to an old 120GB Western Digital IDE drive I pulled out of an old computer. However, for some reason it still shows all partitions as being exactly the same as the old drive - in other words, the E: drive is still showing as 4,881.63MB, the F: drive is 2,134.52, etc. How do I make it recognize the new extra free space?

sudz28 (author)sudz282016-02-08

Never mind, figured it out - had to use chimp to reformat/claim the new free space.

Tanman720 (author)sudz282016-03-22

How did you go about doing that? I'm having the same issue.

sudz28 (author)Tanman7202016-03-23

I used Chimp (already installed on my Xbox) to reformat the F: drive, which is where the space ends up. There is no way to 'add' it to the existing E: drive that I was able to find. Thus, I had to move the stuff on my E: drive over to my F: drive. In the end I just ended up putting a larger version of Coinops onto the F: drive than I had on the E: drive.

Tanman720 (author)sudz282016-03-23

So after you format the F drive with chimp, you use ftp to transfer everything from E to F?

sudz28 (author)Tanman7202016-03-23

Well you shouldn't have to FTP anything from one drive to another; they're both partitions on the same Xbox, so you can just copy from one drive to another. What I did was FTP a completely new software package (CoinOPS Massive) from my desktop computer to the F: drive. The E: drive contained CoinOPS LITE, and I just left that where it was although I doubt I'll ever use it again now.

thelolotov (author)2016-01-09

YMMV, but I was never able to get it to work swapping that late in the process. I am using XBMC as my dash, and I was able to swap the IDE cable after starting the Xbox, but before launching Chimp, and that's what worked for me.

RicoS2 (author)2015-09-12

Success! Thanks for the tutorial.

alvarou (author)2014-12-29

xbox support more than 500 hd 1tb , and if you are using mod chip you can upgrate more than 1 tb hd

KonstantanB (author)2014-12-09

can i do this with windows 7?

gwood1234 (author)2013-01-01

Hi. Can this be done using a laptop hard drive? I have an old G4 iBook lying around with a 60gb drive that I could use! Thanks

professorfrink (author)gwood12342014-11-09

Tias (try it and see)? Don't see why it wouldn't work

nycxbox (author)gwood12342013-10-30

YES it can

Techboy23 (author)2014-01-21

this be done with a regular stock bought Xbox and not a soft modded one.

I'm basically new to all
this process and I'm just trying to install a new hard drive in an old Xbox
that originally had a 10 gig drive in it

this possible to do, and how

what would be the easiest way for a newbie like me to get this done

professorfrink (author)Techboy232014-11-09

No it needs to be soft modded to allow you to run cloning software. Softmod is rather easy though

Damon Creed (author)2014-08-01

I say use a 3tb drive and find a way to upgrade the disk drive to BD-Rom. :-) (while still retaining the ability to read Xbox disks)

You can chip it to support sata

EdH1 (author)2014-11-08

The guide doesn't mention the most important part: Replace the old 40-wire cable with an 80-wire one. This reduces crosstalk and allows significantly faster transfers between the hard drive and the system. This would be especially important if you're using a modern drive like the one seen here. If you have some recent motherboards, chances are you have a couple of these smoother 80-wire IDE cables lying around.

Even if you stick with the original hard drive, this (along with desoldering the supercap) is the #1 mod you can do to your xbox, and it's also the easiest.

i_eatcatchow (author)2014-10-11

dont forget to set your old harddrive back to master afterwards, or you may get an error.

BadZombie (author)2014-09-27

I love mods like this

BadZombie (author)2014-09-27

can you get one bigger than 500GB?

bandi.bandi.963 (author)2014-08-24

Hi there! I`v sucseeded with the cloaning for the originlal xbox from 80gb to 120gb,but the funy thing is i have the same amout of free space as on the 80gb.

Any ideas,suggestions for this kind of issue?


dfalk (author)2011-09-10

Does its support 500gb??

jgosselin (author)dfalk2011-11-21

the fact he completed the instructable and says its working with his partition layout. your answer is yes.

The Dark Lord (author)jgosselin2012-04-20

Can it be done without partitioning?

wolfemanpa (author)2012-04-03

There are a couple things that need to be pointed out that are not in this tutorial and others I have seen. After a softmod is performed, there is not automatically an Apps folder created, in fact, one would be led to believe that a directory named APPLICATIONS, would be there given the evox dashboard listing, along with an EMULATORS, GAMES, et al.

You must install the chimp folder via ftp into a directory named "Apps". and the linux config file inside the chimp folder into the root of the E directory. Otherwise you will get errors when booting chimp and trying to start the app.

The other point is, well more of a question really, how do you merge the resulting partitions? I can not install my games or emulators, as far as I can tell, on any other partition than the E partition... so how do you make use of all that extra space if after the clone, you are left with a 4GB sized E partition?

Jon316 (author)2012-02-15

This is really easy to do all you have to do is connect hdd to computer and use xboxhdm. I did though explore some tuttorials first just to get comfortable with xboxhdm.

ricardo10452 (author)2012-02-09

While my HDD is cloning, the screen goes black. How will I know when the cloning is done? Is there an on screen message? When I hit the button on the controller it goes straight to the menu screen. Does this mean its done or did I interrupt the process? Any information will be highly appreciated. Thanks! =)

MichaeLeon88 (author)2011-08-18

Trial and error is a little scary. I had to plug the jumper back into the hard drive to restore it to master for the dashboard to fully load.
Otherwise I was given the xbox needs service screen.

MichaeLeon88 (author)2011-08-18

I wish it was as easy as clone master to slave. You have to select a few settings before it does. I was kinda lost but I just said yes to everything.

bjk311 (author)2011-03-11

Can i use the same HDD listed above for my xbox or does it have to be specific version?

If so, how can i find out which version xbox i have?

thanks for the help

zack247 (author)bjk3112011-07-06

any IDE hard drive should work, so long as its properly formatted.

Treborabc (author)2011-04-30

You can do this much more easily with xboxhdm and a ftp client

Snaffle J. Bean (author)2011-04-08

Will this keep my softmod, or will I need to re-softmod my Xbox after I put a new hard drive in?

myles_h (author)Snaffle J. Bean2011-04-09

The new hard drive will be cloned from the old one (Step 6), so no, you shouldn't have to. Good luck.

Snaffle J. Bean (author)myles_h2011-04-09

Okay. One last question: I'm going to be using an old hard drive with data on it from a previous computer. Will I have to format this hard drive, or will Chimp do it?

Sirppi (author)2011-01-29

Thanks a lot (: i finally managed to change the HDD using this tut (:

junits15 (author)2010-10-17

I believe its an IDE cable :)

About This Instructable




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