How to Format an XBox Hard Drive Using a PC

By Jonathan Langdon

Microsoft limits the types of hard drives that work for the Xbox 360. If the hard drive is not designed from within to work with the console, the Xbox 360 will not recognize the hard drive. While the Xbox 360 hard drives are for console use, they still function as standard, laptop size hard drives. A special cable connects the hard drive to a computer, and Windows Disk Management can format the hard drive for general use.

Things You'll Need

  • Xbox 360 data transfer cable
  • Windows XP or later

Step 1

Connect the Xbox 360 hard drive to the computer using the Xbox 360 data transfer cable. (The cable connects to the PC via USB and to the Xbox 360 hard drive via a proprietary connection.)

Step 2

Open the Start Menu, right-click "Computer" or "My Computer," then click "Manage" to open "Computer Management." Select "Disk Management" under the "Storage" heading, then wait for the middle section of the window to load. Check the list of disks in the lower part of the window for an "Unknown" or "Not Initialized" disk. The Xbox 360 hard drive does not show up under "Volume."

Step 3

Right-click the left, square area of the "Unknown" disk listing, then click "Initialize Disk." Select "MBR," then click "OK." After a moment, "Disk Management" labels the hard drive "Unallocated."

Step 4

Right-click the right, rectangular area of the Xbox 360 hard drive listing, then click "New Partition" or "New Simple Volume." Follow the "Wizard" to format the hard drive to desired specifications.

Tips & Warnings

  • The hard drive can be reset to Xbox 360 format through the Memory menu in the System Settings of the console.
  • The Xbox 360 data transfer cable is bundled with new Xbox 360 hard drives, but can be bought separately.
  • Formatting a hard drive wipes all data from it.
  • The hard drive must be formatted within the Xbox 360 System Settings for it to be used as storage for the console once more.