Can I transfer 360 data to an external hard drive?
February 4, 2012 7:00 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way I can transfer over 4 gigs of data to a new 4 gig Xbox 360 console by using an external hard drive?

So my 360 gave up the ghost today with an E-73 error. This isn't the first time it's happened to me, and the first time it did I sent it to Microsoft for a warranty repair. Naturally, it decided to break again with the same error now that I'm out of warranty.

Weirdly, both incidents happened the week a new Soul Calibur game came out, but I digress.

So anyway, I went through the rigamarole with Microsoft's tech support website, and was informed that there was nothing I could do to fix the machine myself and that I'd have to send it back to Microsoft for a $99 out-of-warranty repair. And of course, they'd send me a refurbished old model unit, which is only under warranty for 90 days and could easily break again.

So rather than put up with that, I've decided that just getting a new console is probably the way to go. I'm not really in the mood to drop another $300 into Microsoft's coffers, so I'd rather just get the new 4-gig unit. The problem is that I had a 20-gig unit originally, and while I definitely don't have over 4 gigs of save data, it has posed a unique situation:

1. The 360 supports external hard drives. I have one that's perfect for the task, and would give me about another 30 gigs of space, more than I have now.

2. However, the Xbox 360 Transfer Cable transfers all the data at once.

3. So can I plug my external hard drive in and choose to copy everything over from my old 360 hard drive to that external hard drive during the transfer process, or will it automatically transfer to the onboard memory, of which there is not enough to hold everything I have on the 360 hard drive?

Basically, I'm mostly concerned about my save files. I can redownload anything else, but those are trickier. Any assistance?
posted by HostBryan to Technology (9 answers total)
Best answer: If you have a working hard drive in your current 20GB XBox, you can actually use it with the new 360. The modern "slim" models have a hard drive slot, and if you remove the hard drive from the old machine's weird silver hard drive caddy, slide the drive into the slot on the "new" 360, you will be good to go. There are some videos on YouTube showing the process, as well.

There are a number of things which cannot be transferred to an external device -- including game saves that are so marked. While using the 30GB drive you have as a USB device will work for much of what you want, transferring your old (actual) drive to the 4GB model is probably your best bet for preserving your save files.
posted by ellF at 8:23 PM on February 4, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you so much, ellF. This will save me a ton of money and frustration. Just to be certain, this won't void the warranty in some way, will it?
posted by HostBryan at 8:38 PM on February 4, 2012

I was under the impression that you can NOT just plug the old HDD into the new console - you really need to move content using the transfer cable, because each HD is tied to a specific console or something like that. Unless ellF or someone else chimes in and guarantees that they've tried it and it definitely worked (I've looked for videos on YT and didn't find any), I reckon that plugging the old drive in the new console is a good way of losing all your data and/or void warranty.

Are you sure the transfer cable doesn't let you select what to transfer? The last screenshot in this page leads me to believe you can choose to transfer only your save files, which should be much smaller than 4 GB.
posted by Bangaioh at 4:34 AM on February 5, 2012

Regarding the save files: some XBLA games don't have a dedicated save file, so you'd actually need to copy the whole game file to preserve your data. If you have a lot of these, you may easily exceed the 4 GB ceiling, so beware.

Also, after you're done, I recommend setting up cloud storage. However, not every title supports it.
posted by Bangaioh at 4:40 AM on February 5, 2012

You can move the old HDD from the original console to the new console. It won't void either console's warranty (moot in the case of the older one, of course), but it will void the warranty on the hard drive.

To Bangaioh's point, XBox drives are encrypted and locked so that you can't plug just any drive into the console. However, the original machine's drive will be viewed by the new console as an official drive, so no issues there with functionality. Incidentally, MSFT limits (or at least used to, the last time I checked) USB drive support for the consoles to 16GB, so using that 30GB drive as a USB drive is not apt to work.

Much of your content (downloaded games, etc.) is also tied to a specific console, but you will be able to play them if you are actively signed into Live. You could also transfer the licenses for your content once every four months, and then redownload all of that content, but were it me I'd not care to take the trouble -- I never play XBLA games when I'm not online, given the persistent online nature of Live. Details on that are here:
posted by ellF at 5:19 AM on February 5, 2012

Oh, and the final point: the Slim models can accept the drive (once removed from the caddy) of the older models, but they are meant to have a hard drive caddy. Without one, the drive will wiggle a bit. You can, however, pick up a caddy -- just a bit of plastic, really -- for <>
(Here's an example; no idea who this is, was just the first eBay result).
posted by ellF at 5:22 AM on February 5, 2012

MSFT limits (or at least used to, the last time I checked) USB drive support for the consoles to 16GB, so using that 30GB drive as a USB drive is not apt to work

This is true but the OP can still use his 30 GB HD, with the caveat that only 16 GB (actually 14.4 GB, still more space than a "20 GB" HD though) will be available to the 360, so it's more than good enough for his current needs. It would not work only if it didn't meet the 360's performance requirements, a highly unlikely scenario given that even some flash memory sticks are fast enough.

the original machine's drive will be viewed by the new console as an official drive, so no issues there with functionality

I apologise for insisting, but are you 100% sure about this (as in, did you see someone do it or have you done it yourself, and was the old data in the HD accepted by the new console or was a reformat necessary)? FWIW, the reason I doubt this is the case is this excerpt from an old blog post about Datel's Xport 360:
We ended up finding out each 360 HDD has a Unique HDD Key that ties it to the XBOX 360 it’s connected to (that’s my rudimentary explanation of it, anyway). By reimaging the new hard drive with another hard drive’s image, we were putting the old HDD’s Unique Key on the new one, making the new HDD 100% unusable with any XBOX 360 but our old one.
This leads me to believe that an HD from one console will not work properly in a different system, unless the 360 has the functionality of changing a HD's unique key without destroying the rest of its content.
posted by Bangaioh at 5:52 AM on February 5, 2012

Response by poster: All I know is I was able to plug my old HD into the new refurbished unit I got when I did the first repair, and that my girlfriend's brother-in-laws regularly swapped their hard drives between units depending on where they were with no ill effects. I don't know if that resolves that particular problem but between that and the YouTube videos that show it working might it not be an issue?
posted by HostBryan at 8:10 AM on February 5, 2012

I couldn't find any YT video applicable to your specific situation, only videos showing how to use the transfer cable, or how to move the saves using a USB device (TBH I didn't spend much time searching either, useful videos are probably out there) but if you are certain that your GF's relatives had no trouble whatsoever swapping drives, and assuming nothing relevant has changed in recent dashboard updates, then it seems you should have no issues as well, like ellF had already stated.
posted by Bangaioh at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2012

« Older Hard-to-Find Replacement Plus Size Shirt   |   How to use Amazon's Text Stats Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.