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Create partition for Xbox 360 without formatting or converting USB hard disk to Fat32

I have an external hard disk with NTFS file system which is nearly full of “important” stuff and I want to use it with my Xbox 360. But when I looked up online for a guide to do it, all the guides required the hard disk to either have Fat32 file system or required me to format the hard drive and create a Fat32 partition. [e.g., Guide-1, Guide-2, Guide-3, …]. Because Fat32 file-system has certain limitation, it doesn’t allow files over 4GB size and I did not want to lose such files. Besides, NTFS is way better than Fat32. But I din’t find any guide which allowed to keep my existing data without converting the file system to Fat32. Here is the reason all the guides required to have Fat32 file system only – because Microsoft Xbox 360 simply won’t support a file system developed by Microsoft and supposed to supersede Fat32. Bummer! Isn’t it?

But after experimenting with a SanDisk 8GB pen drive and a spare Western Digital 750GB Hard disk, I came up with an original (at least I think it is original) solution. 

External USB Storage Disk
External USB Storage Disk

The trick lies in the 2 options presented when you plug-in your hard disk and navigate to Settings->Storage->(your storage device)->Configure USB Storage:

  1. Configure now
  2. Customize
If you select 1. Configure Now, it will format your whole hard drive and create a Fat32 partition.
If you select 2. Customize, it will try to find a primary Fat32 partition, erase that particular partition only and configure it for use with Xbox.
So here is how I configured my Western Digital 2TB external hard disk with 1.5TB of “important” data using a free software – Partition Wizard:
  1. Connect to a Windows PC.
  2. Shrink size of any existing partition (in my case 2TB NTFS partition) by X GB. (Replace X with any number of GBs you want to be available for Xbox) (Guide)
  3. Create a new Fat32 primary (must be primary, otherwise you will end up formatting whole hard disk) partition of X GB (Space freed up in Step-1) (Guide)
  4. Plug it in to XBox
  5. Go to Xbox Settings->Storage->(Your storage device)->Configure USB Storage, select 2. Customize, reserve all 32 GB (it is up to you how much storage you need, max is 32GB) for game profiles and downloadable content
  6. Wait for completion. Once ready, you will have 32 GB of space available for Xbox Game save and other downloadable content. Rest (X-32) GB will be available for you to store any files from your PC. Note: Max size that Xbox can reserve for Game save and downloadable content is 32GB. (increased from 16GB in recent updates for smart glass).
  7. Use original partition  (in my case (2TB – XGB) NTFS partition) for primary storage, and newly created and configured Fat32 partition for Xbox media content.
Now, at any point of time in future, I can:
  • Backup 32GB XBox 360 files from Fat32 partition.
  • Resize any partition of the hard disk, even the Fat32 partition configured by Xbox.

My advice for you is to do a test run on a pen drive or a spare hard disk before trying it on your hard disk with really important stuff.

Hope this guide helps, let me know if you have any comments/suggestions.

29 thoughts on “Create partition for Xbox 360 without formatting or converting USB hard disk to Fat32

  1. Great article mate, can’t believe no one else has said anything.

    It would make it easier if there was screenshots instead of links and a bit more detail with how to use the program (for those who aren’t as tech savvy).

    Just wondering, how do you resize the Xbox partition. I guess you just use the partition wizard again but then wouldn’t the xbox want to format after you’ve changed something?

  2. A+ article man.

    I just used this step-by-step for Grand Theft Auto 5 which requires 8gigs installed to even play. When I got home I somehow couldn’t find my 32gb usb stick and freaked out. My only alternative was my external HD with TONS of important TV shows / movies over 1TB of data. Following this guide I was so scared to hit “customize” on the 360 after I created a seperate partition. However it detected the seperate partition perfectly and set up the profiles with no problem. I made sure to plug my external back into my PC to ensure the 360 didn’t format any other files, which it did not. 100% safe on my side.

    GTA V is installing as I type this, thanks so much for the help!!!

  3. PCs come with a utility called Disk Management that you can use to create partitions. You can find it in the control panel. Wouldn’t that work just as well if you have a PC? No need to download another program.

  4. This post rocked …….. you rock ……….you saved me a good 10$ today !!! GTA 5 installing …… just cause of you ….Thanx !!

  5. I have done everything you’ve said and it works for a while then while it is formatting the 32GB it says that the action cannot be performed. Any idea what’s causing this?

    1. same happen to me, it seems that our HDD are not compatible with xbox 360, I’m using a Seagate 3T and formatted 32 Gb fat32 but can’t complete the action on xbox 360

  6. I did everything, step by step, like in the guide. But when i plugged it back to my PC, Cant find NOTHING on it!! DAMN! what the F i did wrong ? My external was FAT32 -> cmd, chkdsk etc and changed it to NTFS. After that i did like in here on the guide. Allthough, when i customized my external in xbox system preferences option, it asked “if i want to format, i clicked yes” I though this is normal ? Sry my bad english. Or is here somekind of a trick, how i can get my files etc back “in to the daylight” 🙂 p.s When i plug my external back to my pc, i says it is FAT32.

  7. I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this on my flash drive, and I just can’t get it to work. Right now, after trying many things, I’ve got a flash drive that is completely unformatted. Can you guys help me out?

    As a heads up, the problems that I keep running into are:

    1) I can get a Fat32 partition on there that works all by itself, but I cannot add another partition once the Fat 32 is on there. When I try, I get a warning that says that Windows can only read the first partition on the drive. So, if I continue after the warning, if my first partition is my NTFS, then it doesn’t recognize the FAT32, and vice versa..

    b) I might be misunderstanding what you guys mean by “shrink the partition”. Seeing how Partition Wizard does not have an option to “shrink”, can you guys be more specific about what action you are taking in the Partition Wizard tool?

  8. One thing I have to ask is does this walkthrough work if I wanted to make another 32GB FAT32 partition to use as Xbox 360 storage besides the one created with this guide? My PC recognizes both FAT32 partitions but my Xbox only recognizes it as one disk and prompts me if I want to format the drive when clicking customize (I double checked to make sure both are FAT32 and set as primary, not logical). If there’s only one FAT32 partition, the system recognizes it and is labeled ‘USB Disk’ when viewing in settings>storage on my Xbox.

    Other than that, this guide worked like a charm. Used a 1TB Toshiba HDD I usually use since I had no spare drives but it’s highly unlikely I’m gonna fill up the 898GB’s of memory left over anytime soon. 😛

  9. thanks so much, i needed to copy all my wwe2k14 save files (they were unorganized and needed editing) and the game was in the folder and i couldn’t move it cause my flash drive was only 6gb the game was 7. i have a 1 tb external that i formated to 10 as a test and it worked like a charm!

  10. Which mini tool partitioner?? Every time I click on your link you provided and then their link it gives me a bunch of options. Didn’t download when I did it.

  11. Hello!

    Do you know if it works on the last update version of dashboard (2.0.17349.0) ? This version allowed larger external drives up to 2TB.

  12. I cant do anything with my External hard rive. it is saying me this disk is “Read Only”. Plz Help

    1. The disk has to have a FAT32 partition. If it doesn’t shrink your NTFS or any other partition and create one FAT32 partition as instructed in the article.

  13. Hey, I’m having trouble at step 5. I have the newest update, and I can’t find the customize option or the configure option in the xbox settings, to allocate my game saves to 32GB.

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