How to connect an external hard drive to an Xbox

It sounds like it would be pretty simple to connect an external hard drive to your Xbox. Take a USB cable and plug it in to both devices, right? Wrong, as I found out.

I wanted to hook up our 1TB hard drive with all the movies and TV shows on it, as well as my music and pictures, but when I plugged it into one of the front USB ports nothing at all happened. I tried a back port, but the Xbox remained sullen and unresponsive.

I tried Googling for an answer and the internet told me the hard drive file system needed to be FAT not NTFS. All of our storage devices are NTFS. You can reformat from one system to the other, but doing so deletes all data from the device being formatted. I didn’t want to have to move everything back onto the 1TB drive, so I dug out my 128GB drive and hooked it up to the laptop.

I right-clicked on the drive in ‘Computer’ and Windows 7 helpfully provided a format option. I chose exFAT and went for it. Ping! Instantly done. I transferred the music, pictures and home videos to it and connected it to the Xbox again.

Again, nothing. I searched Google again; surely the internet couldn’t have been wrong? The internet was offended at the very suggestion and pointed out that exFAT just wouldn’t cut it; it had to be FAT32.

Since Windows 7 doesn’t give you this option, I found a handy tool for doing so at Ridgecrop Consultants. Clicking the screenshot at the top of the page begins the download, which took only a couple of seconds for me. Run the program, select the drive to format – make sure you get it right, remember all data gets deleted – hit start, and again in just a couple of seconds it’s done.

Before trusting it completely and transferring the files again, I hooked it up to the Xbox when it was still empty. Lo and behold, the Xbox acknowledged its existence and I finally got the files back on it and accessible through the Xbox!

TL;DR – Format as FAT32!

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