Introduction: Upgrading the Xbox 360 Hard Drive CHEAP!

About: 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 full-time net / sys admin, plus I balance being a manger in there somehow. …
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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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".