Even though I don’t care for the Playstation 3 all that much, Sony did do one thing right: you can plug in a wide-variety of 3.5″ hard disks.
Microsoft, in their endless, dirty pursuit of money by introducing hoops for consumers to crawl through, decided to create a proprietary interface for the Xbox 360 hard drive. The result? The Xbox 360 120GB hard drive retails for $159.99 (though you can find it for $119.99 and less elsewhere), whereas the same 2.5″ hard drive is $49.99 on Newegg.
Even if you open up the Xbox 360 hard drive enclosure, the Xbox 360 will only communicate with a hard drive with specific firmware.
Thankfully, intelligent hackers have created tools to update said firmware on several Western Digital hard drives. We’re still stuck with 120 GB (Microsoft doesn’t support larger hard drives), but at least we can get it cheaper.
Everything you need to perform this upgrade is written about amongst the internets, but (not surprisingly), the information is often scattered and incomplete. Here are the complete steps I took to update my hard drive.
- Compatible hard drive.
I used the WD1200BEVS ($49.99 from Newegg)
- T5 and T10 Torx screwdriver ends.
I bought the Husky 36-Piece Precision Screwdriver Set ($4.99 from Home Depot).
- USB Flash Drive
- Computer with SATA ports and ability to boot from USB Flash Drive.
- Xbox 360 Hard Drive Enclosure.
- Hddss.bin – the new firmware you’ll be using.
Google for it, and download it using a torrent, or dump it from your existing hard drive.
- hddhackr 0.91 – tool that dumps/flashes/restores Xbox 360 hard drive firmware.
There is a 1.0 version available, but it didn’t work for me, and several others reported issues.
- DOS 6.22 Boot Image
- Virtual Floppy Drive 2.1
- HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool 2.06
Create USB Flash Drive DOS Boot Disk
- Run Virtual Floppy Drive, install and start the drive.
- Load the DOS 6.22 Boot Image into the fake floppy drive.
- Plug in your USB Flash Drive (backup any files you wish to save).
- Run HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool
- Create a DOS Startup Disk using DOS System Files located at the fake floppy drive (click Start).
- Twiddle your thumbs for a bit.
- Copy the contents of the fake floppy drive to the flash drive.
- Copy hddss.bin to the flash drive.
- Copy hddhackr to the flash drive.
- Reboot the PC with the flash drive plugged in, and see if it boots into DOS (you may have to fiddle with the BIOS startup order).
- If you see a DOS prompt, congratulations. Don’t do anything yet!
Disassemble Xbox 360 Hard Drive Enclosure
- Use T5 Torx to remove 4 external screws. Remember the one under the security label… I forgot about it, and almost tore the enclosure apart.
- Use T10 Torx to remove aluminum hard drive shield.
- Disconnect cables by holding them with your thumb while sliding drive forward.
- ‘Bend’ the plastic bit at the end so you can get the drive out. It is attached loosely to the rest of the enclosure, and can tilt easily.
Backup 20 GB Hard Drive
If you have a memory card, copy your profile and any save games to it (you can always download things again later). I forgot to do this, and I’ll have to swap the 20 GB drive back in later.
Flash Xbox 360 Firmware
- Shut down your computer.
- Disconnect all SATA drives (so the software has no chance of screwing up).
- Connect your new 120 GB hard drive.
- Plug in the USB Flash Drive.
- Start the computer.
- Enter BIOS. If there is an option for ‘Extended’ or ‘Enhanced’ SATA configuration, you’ll want to choose ‘Compatible’ instead. I got stuck on this point, with my ASUS P5B Deluxe motherboard.
- Boot into DOS.
- Enter the command: hddhackr -f
- hddhackr should display your Western Digital hard drive in a list. If it does not, try another SATA port, or double-check your SATA configuration in your BIOS.
- Enter the number associated with your hard drive, and follow the prompts.
- Shut down your computer for 10 seconds.
- Start up, boot into DOS.
- Enter the command: hddhackr -f
- hddhackr will display something a different hard drive name, something with ‘Hitachi’ in it, if successful.
- Shut down the computer.
- Disconnect your new Xbox 360 120GB drive.
- Re-connect your old drives.
- Unplug the USB Flash Drive.
Re-assemble the hard drive enclosure. This is pretty simple, just plug the new drive in, screw things together, re-assemble the latch mechanism, and you should be all set.
Startup your 360 with the new hard drive. Once you’re booted up, go to System Settings, and your hard drive should be listed as ‘Unformatted’. Select it, and select Format.