Introduction: Upgrading the Xbox 360 Hard Drive CHEAP!

Picture of Upgrading the Xbox 360 Hard Drive CHEAP!

With all the new content for download and the ability to copy games to the hard drive, 20GB just would not cut it. So I decided to invest in an upgrade. I like to do a lot of research into things before I just jump in, especially expensive purchases.

A retail 120GB hard drive for the Xbox 360 cost around 130$. That seems somewhat expensive to me since I can get a 1TB hard drive for that much. I did some searching and finally found an answer I could live with.

A "do it yourself" 120GB Xbox 360 hard drive upgrade for $50!!NO MOD CHIP IS REQUIRED!

DISCLAIMER: Do this mod at your own risk! You could damage your Xbox or your computer. You could lose your data, get banned from Xbox Live, void your warranty, the authorities take you to prison, Steve Balmer will hold you down while Bill Gates spits in your eye, yada, yada... Don't blame me if any of this happens!

Seriously, I did not have much on my hard drive that I would mind losing. This will void the warranty on the hard drive. I just paid for another 13 months of Xbox Live, so I was a little nervous... but I have not been kicked yet!

Some games have content and save games that are media locked. This means that it will not work if it has been moved to another media (new hard drive, memory card, etc.). I have not experienced it yet, but I have heard reports of it from others.

Step 1: Hardware, Tools, and Software Needed

Picture of Hardware, Tools, and Software Needed

Tools needed:
- A PC or laptop with SATA. You cannot use a USB-SATA converter with Hddhackr!
- A floppy disk. If you don't have a drive, you can use an external USB floppy disk drive.
- A USB-to-SATA adapter. You can use this for the Xplorer 360 software.
- Precision tools with Torx bits. I used a T6 and T10 bit.
- Your mitts

Hardware needed:
- Western Digital Scorpio WD1200BEVS 120GB SATA hard drive - Don't try to go with another drive! This one has been reported successful with hundreds of DIY 360 hard drive upgrades all over the net. You can <NO LONGER> buy it from Newegg, but you can get it from CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM PCCONNECTION.COM

Software needed:
- Hddhackr 0.91
- Xplorer360 xtreme 2
- Xplorer360 BETA 6 - Might not be needed. Some people reported success with Xplorer360 xtreme 2. I only used the xtreme 2 version.
- hddss.bin file from a retail 360 120GB hdd - This file contains copyrighted code, so I don't think I can post a link. Use your Google finger to find it.
- Hex Workshop - I recommend you purchase this program, but you can just use the trial for now.
- WinHex - If you have the full version of this, you can skip Hex Workshop. The trial version of WinHex does not allow you to write to hard drives.
- Boot disk image - I used a Windows 98 SE OEM disk image.

Step 2: Creating a Boot Disk

Picture of Creating a Boot Disk

You can buy an external USB floppy drive for cheap. I picked up one at Wal-Mart for around $10. If you just do not want anything to do with a floppy drive, you can make a bootable USB drive with these instructions:

How to make a bootable USB flash drive

I had success with a Windows 98 SE OEM boot disk image. If you decide to use something else, please post your results in the comments for other readers.

1. Insert a blank floppy disk into the drive.
2. To create the boot disk, run the file that you downloaded from (my file was called "boot98se.exe")
3. Once that process is finished, you need to copy to your floppy disk.
4. You also need to copy the hddss.bin file to the disk. This is the one that you found searching the net. Make sure it is for 120GB hard drives! There are 3 copies out there (20GB, 60GB, and 120GB).

Step 3: Flashing Your New 120GB Hard Drive

Picture of Flashing Your New 120GB Hard Drive

Once your boot disk is created, you can flash your new hard drive.

1. Turn off your computer and hook up the 120GB SATA drive. I unplugged all other drives from my computer just in case.
2. Boot up the computer and enter the BIOS - F2 or DEL is the normal key to press at boot to enter the BIOS. However, you might have to consult your owner's manual for your particular model.
3. Make sure your SATA is NOT running in enhanced mode. My laptop did not have an option for enhanced mode... yours might not either.
4. Reboot your computer and select your new boot the boot device. F10 or F11 is the normal key to select your boot device, but yours may be different. Again, consult the owner's manual.
5. Once you have successfully booted and at a command prompt, type the following:
hddhackr - f
6. Accept the prompts and create a backup.
7. Once the process is done, turn off your computer - NOT REBOOT, ACTAULLY SHUT DOWN.
8. Wait about 10 seconds and then boot up again to your floppy boot disk.
9. Once you are at a command prompt, type the following:
hddhackr -f
This will verify that your hard drive is ready for use in the 360.
10. Turn off the computer, disconnect the hard drive, and boot into your operating system (not to the boot disk).

Step 4: Having Problems With Hddhackr?

Picture of Having Problems With Hddhackr?

I had loads of problems with hddhackr, so I have plenty of troubleshooting tips to relay.

PROBLEM: hddhackr freezes

SOLUTION: Hddhackr does not recognize your SATA controller. You will need to do the following:

1. Boot into WIndows and run MSINFO32
2. Select Components - Storage - IDE
3. Find your SATA controller - there should be 5 I./O ports listed below it
4. Use the 1st and the 3rd address
5. Find the 4 characters behind the "-" (as shown in the picture)
6. Open Hex Workshop

Step 5: Switch Hard Drives

Picture of Switch Hard Drives

Once the hard drive has been flashed, you need to begin formatting it. You can format it using the Xbox 360's built-in format function.

1. Take the old hard drive off of the Xbox 360. Do this by clicking the eject button and popping out the drive.
2. Break out the precision tools and the Torx bits, it's time to void the hard drive warranty.
3. Use the T6 Torx bit to remove the 4 screws on the case. You will have to break the Microsoft sticker to gain access to the last one.
4. Once the screws are out, pull the casing off.
!!!!Be careful not to lose any of the pieces on the inside. There will be a black latch piece, the button, and a spring.
6. Use a T10 Torx bit to remove the screws holding the hard drive in.
7. Pull back the metal piece over the hard drive.
8. Disconnect the SATA and power from the drive.
9. Replace the old drive with the new 120GB hard drive.
!!!!Only use a couple screws to hold everything in place. We will be taking it apart again soon.
10. Place the hard drive back on the Xbox 360.

Step 6: Format the Hard Drive

Picture of Format the Hard Drive

1. Turn on your Xbox 360
2. Go to "Console Settings" and then "System Info"
3. Write down the serial number
4. Go to "Memory" and format the drive (if it says a drive is not detected, you did something wrong... back to the beginning.)
5. Enter the serial number you wrote down in step 3

It's going to take a while to format the drive. Leave it while we backup the files on the old hard drive.

I apologize. The picture is of the old blade menu.

Step 7: Backing Up the Old Hard Drive

Picture of Backing Up the Old Hard Drive

Before we begin, we need to make a folder on your local computer to store the Xbox 360 data. You need to have about 20GB free to do this.


1. Hook up the old hard drive. You can hook it up directly to the motherboard or using a USB-SATA adapter like I did. Just make sure you can boot into Windows.
2. Open Xplorer360 xtreme 2.
3. Click "Drive" --> "Open" --> "Harddrive or memcard..."
4. You will see 3 partitions
5. Click on Partition 3 and you will see some folders.
6. You need to copy these folders to your backup folder by clicking and dragging

NOTE: I had some problems at this point:
$TitleUpdate copied fine.
$SystemUpdate copied fine
$Cache created an endless loop. I had to create a folder in my backup folder called Cache. Then copy the contents from the Cache folder in Xplorer360 a little at a time.
mindex gave me an error. I had to create a folder and copy a little at a time for this one as well.
Content gave me an error. Creating a folder and copying a little at a time fixed this one also.


1. In Xplorer360, click Drive or File
2. Select "Backup Partition 2"
3. Save this to the same folder as the others, but do not change the file name

Step 8: Restoring Data to the New Hard Drive

Picture of Restoring Data to the New Hard Drive

Now time to get the data back to the newly formatted drive.

1. Remove the drive from your Xbox 360 (assuming the format is complete) and hook it up to the computer you have been using
2. Open Xplorer360. You should see partition 2 and 3. If not, follow the instructions on the next step (step 9).
3. Copy the data from your Xbox 360 backup folder to partition 3 (don't copy over the .bin file - we'll use that next)
4. Now click on Drive --> Restore Partition 2 and select the .bin file. This is the backup we made of partition 2 from the old drive.
5. Once it is complete, it's time to see if it worked!

Step 9: If You Cannot See Partition 2

Picture of If You Cannot See Partition 2

There are 2 things you can do here:

1. Some people had success by just trying to restore Partition 2 and then restarting Xplorer360.

2. You may have to manually add the partition - This worked for me.

To manually add the partition:

1. Open Hex Workshop. Click Disk --> Open Drive -->and then select your 120GB drive. MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE THE CORRECT DRIVE!
2. Click Edit --> Goto. Type 400 (hex) in the field and make sure "Beginning of drive" is selected in the "From where" options.
3. You should see 0-F and they should all be 00's. Change it to (see pic also):

58 54 41 46 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 10 00 00 00 01

4. Click File --> Save
5. Leave Hex Workshop open and open WinHex. Go to offset 80000 or do a search for "XTAF". Verify that byte 80000 you see 58 54 41... like above. If not, go back to Hex Workshop, undo your changes and try again.
6. Open Xplorer360 xtreme build 2 and you should have partition 2 listed.

Step 10: DONE!

Picture of DONE!

When I turned on my Xbox 360, it said that an update was required. It took about 12 minutes to download. Once it completed, I signed into Xbox Live and everything was working.

You will want to verify that everything works once the copy is complete. Some save games and content cannot be transferred to another media and will not work. Everything I had worked just fine.

I did not have videos, but someone reported that they did not work until they went to System --> select hard drive --> system items --> delete "rights database".


dylan.coulbeck (author)2015-03-07

or you can do a direct clone of the old HDD without all this hassle with everything still on it...rookies...

I suspect a simple drive copy would not always work -- except as a drive of the same size (20GB on 120GB). I think Xbox uses a modified NTFS so that standard partition expansion utilities would fail. Also there is that special boot code keyed to the drive size.

So basically you'd need a 120GB Xbox drive to simply do a drive copy. Then you got issues with duplicate system serial numbers and probably codes for installed software too. So then you need to modify.

But surely by this time there is a more sophisticated utility that maybe does work with drive copy to expand Xbox partitions and paste in correct Xbox bootcodes to match drive sizes.

kallwood1 (author)dylan.coulbeck2015-11-09

any chance of an ible to help us rookies out? can't be too hard for a guru like u!

dylan.coulbeck (author)2015-03-07

or you can do a direct clone of the old HDD without all this hassle with everything still on it...rookies...

abadfart (author)2011-11-25

so i got a drive off Craigslist and the person who modded it forgot to put the bc partition on do you have any suggestions on how to fix this

MRedu (author)2011-11-07

This is an excellent idea! Nicely explained too. However my problem at the moment is my xbox has suffered from the RROD 3 lights :/ I might buy a new slim 360 though and try this hack/mod. I'll just hunt for a 2TB cheap hard drive.

abadfart (author)2011-08-30

i realy want to drop a 1tb drive in to my xbox... i would never run out of space

bbonat holdiings (author)2011-08-10

it is very easy to create a bootable flash drive( I used a 4GB kingston) I used a program called boot manager to create it. I then unzip and the firmware update to the flash drive as well as
Most computers have a key either F11 or F12 to enter the boot menu from which you can select the drive you want to boot from(much simpler than going into BIOS), just check on the start up screen to see which key takes you to the boot menu

lasvhughes (author)2011-07-27

ummm... you can buy a xbox 250g HDD all day long for $40 on ebay

dowd95 (author)2010-07-16

WHen I am in my BIOS there is no floppy option or USB option...only "removable" is that what I need? What is it?

makin1 (author)dowd952011-07-05

Yes you are looking for removable. My BIOS is set up like that as well. Removable is USB.

junits15 (author)dowd952010-08-25

probably every computer's bios is different

prodigy007 (author)2011-03-14

It would be good to have an alternative to using a few specific kinds of drives not even shipped with xbox. Not everyone has those types of western digital drives.

egammoc (author)2011-02-12

when i downloaded xplorer xtreme 2 and extracted the rar norton found a trojan horse virus! dont download these programs from here. best to search google for them

astrong0 (author)2011-01-04

if you were t save a game on this drive after you flashed it could you run the game w/o the disk?

Michaelb77 (author)2010-09-28

can i use my laptop 250GB and use it in the Xbox 360 slim trying to save. i dont want to get band off xbox live.

nckballer (author)Michaelb772010-11-25

as long as its western digital brand you can

egammoc (author)2010-10-04

what about a 1tb caviar green western digital sata HDD?

call me XJACOBX (author)2010-07-06

this is also how u fix backwards compatibility. not much point now though cuz they disabled xbox 1 live!!! :(

Hoopsjake2009 (author)2010-07-01

Incredible tutorial!!! I started with an arcade, ordered the hard drive and a case from hong kong. Within a half an hour of getting both, I downloaded everything, I made a bootable flashdrive (using an earlier link), hacked the hard drive, and put in in the kase. I had a new 120gb hard drive for 40 dollars in 30 minutes. Great. I would recommend using a bootable flash drive instead of a floppy. You can also use 250gb hard drives.

lukeman3000 (author)2010-06-03

Can you use a sata express card in a laptop?

I'm talking about to flash the hard drive, not to simply transfer files.

notkeith (author)2010-05-05

here is a link that helped me make a usb boot stick without a floppy drive.  BobMan is right on one count, most of the methods linked to are not terribly helpful, considering I would not be making a usb stick to boot from if I had a floppy drive.

MegaSam (author)2010-04-09

Has Anyone tried all this with a 250 gb hard drive?

notkeith (author)MegaSam2010-05-05

Now that Microsoft has released a 250 gb drive, you can find the proper hddss.bin file with a quick google search.  It should work fine as long as you buy the right hard drive.

lateraluis (author)2010-04-09

Im stil thinking of doing this mod, have any one get banned after upgrading his HDD with this method?

notkeith (author)lateraluis2010-05-05

finally got around to doing this, updated everything, and it still works smoothly.  All updates applied, no banhammers issued.  Its a 3-5 beer job, depending on whether or not you have a floppy drive, usb drives take an extra step or two.

zigzagchris (author)2010-04-05

verry soon you will be able to plug in up to 16 gb of usb hard drive into bother of the usb drives. Not 120 gb :( but easy way for 32 gb if ur like me. I have 20 gb hard drive so 32 sounds like plenty

notkeith (author)2010-01-26

So, has anybody done this recently?  I finally got a 360 and was wondering if the joy of not giving Microsoft my money  (the system itself was a gift...) has been taken away by the ban hammer.

willrandship (author)notkeith2010-02-13

This can't ban you. You aren't hotswapping, softmodding or installing modchips. To the Xbox it looks like you bought an official drive upgrade.

notkeith (author)willrandship2010-03-04

Thanks.  That's what I figured, but I wanted to double check before I did it, after I paid for the year subscription to Live.

willrandship (author)notkeith2010-03-08

No problem. Enjoy your new HDD!

BobmanJCT (author)2010-03-06

Could you clear up how to boot from a USB drive?

The site is not very user friendly, and assumes you already understand a LOT that I doubt the average make user does. And, I personally didn't really want to shell out an extra $10 for a usb drive when I'm trying to do a money-saving mod.

notkeith (author)BobmanJCT2010-03-07

I'm waiting for my drive to arrive in the mail, so I can't answer too many questions yet, except this one...

You boot from a usb drive changing your computers boot setting in the BIOS menu.  When you start up your computer, it should say something along the lines of "F2 to enter startup" (actual key may vary).  You press that key, and it will bring you to the BIOS setting screen, which has a key to instruct you on how to cycle through menus and change values. 

Cycle through the menus until you find the option to change the order your computer checks the drives to boot from, it is probably currently set to check the optical drive, then hard disk.  Instruct it to check the usb ports before the hard drive, and if you've properly configured the usb drive, it will boot from that.

And if you don't want to buy a flash drive, you could just borrow one from somebody. 

jbags (author)2010-02-21

 Hey, Thx for the guide!

I followed it and my 360 recognizes my new 120gb BEVT, however, it does not recognize the transferred files from my old HDD.

Stuck it in the 360 to format it, all partitions show, says 107 GB free space. all good.

After I transfer the files over, my 360 says nothing it on it, no savegames, no profiles, no nothing. yet says like 23 gb free of the 107gb...

help? any ideas?

jbags (author)jbags2010-02-22

 nvm i got it. I was not using the "extreme 2" version of xplorer360. switched the extreme 2 and now the drive works beautifully!!

limpach (author)2009-09-11

Would a solid state HDD work for this? Sitting in a group of programming friends this thought came up.

willrandship (author)limpach2010-02-13

Can't see why not, looks the same to the Xbox

nokittymypotpi3 (author)2010-02-02

do you think this hard drive would work?

Yes, any laptop SATA hard drive should.

abadfart (author)2009-11-26

will this work with an IDE drive for the original Xbox??? 

arduinoe (author)abadfart2009-12-16

no, its sata only.

kiss my donkey (author)2009-12-06

Tyrosx (author)2009-10-22

So if you read my last comment and are having the same issue...Even though I could see partion 2, I still had to go in and edit the HEX code on the drive (I bought one on ebay preassembled). After that everything copied over great and now works fine.

Tyrosx (author)2009-10-19

Have you been able to play Xbox 1 titles on this new Drive? I have not been able to get it to work.

punkatsub (author)2009-09-08

help me, my floppy drive isn't showing up anything when i put in any floppy disk, i need help to repair my 120gb hdd for my xbox, i tried modding my xbox and i need help, i will wait 3 weeks for my brother to fix it, but i want to try and fix it myself

ErikPrice (author)2009-08-13

I know, I'm commenting on this topic after everyone tried it and forgot about this instructable, but I was wondering if any of you have been hit by the banhammer after the latest Live update (8/11/09)

Worm4Life (author)2009-06-18

I thought this meant step 3 over all, not step 3 of step 6 :(

Worm4Life (author)2009-06-18

Sorry for the comment clutter, but I feel this should be on this step. I'm pretty sure just writing to the hard drive on your 360 will make these partitions if they're not visible. So just log in, and download a demo, or copy a game to the hard drive.

Worm4Life (author)2009-06-18

Just google hddhackr or refer to the readme that came with it for the rest of this step.

rajeshdungrani (author)2009-06-12

Can I install the seagate harddisk

About This Instructable




Bio: I am very geeky. I love to do hardware stuff like electronics and robotics projects, as well as software (coding and such). I am a ... More »
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