If your Original Xbox hard drive is starting to act up or you are simply looking to gain a bit more storage space, we will show you how to upgrade this essential internal component of the original, first-generation Xbox.

Surprisingly, a large number of loyal gamers and electronic enthusiasts have held on to their original Xbox consoles over all these years. After all, some of the best games ever released were released exclusively on the first-generation Xbox. However, if you still have a working first-generation Xbox lying about, chances are you are going to run into some hard drive issues.

Unfortunately, changing the hard drive in an ANY generation Xbox to either fix an issue or expand storage capacity is not an easy task. In fact, at times it seems like Microsoft has made a concerted effort to make this process harder than it should be.

Nevertheless, we are going to give you all the information you need to know so for a hard drive upgrade in your Xbox.

Warning: Please be advised that changing the hard drive on an Xbox gaming console voids your manufacturer’s warranty. The information in this guide is meant to prepare you to be able to swap the hard drive without any issues, but we do not recommend that you follow these instructions unless you are totally sure of what you are doing.

OG Xbox

The Xbox line of video game consoles by Microsoft is one of the most successful video gaming brands in history. The very first of these devices, the Classic Xbox or Original Xbox, launched in 2001 and, among the many outstanding and cutting edge features, it incorporated a 733 MHz Pentium III processor by Intel and was the first video game console to include a built-in hard drive.

(Did you know that the built-in hard disk included in the OG Xbox can be used on a Windows PC?)

Additionally, the OG Xbox allowed the simultaneous connection of 4 controllers, giving more players the ability to interact at the same time.

The console also came ready for broadband connectivity, which made the introduction of the Xbox Live online gaming service, one of the most innovative advances in the gaming industry.

For these and other reasons, although the console has long been discontinued, it is still highly regarded by video game enthusiasts all over the world. But having a piece of technology from such a long time ago will invariably lead to some frustration, and on the OG Xbox, this commonly means having to replace the puny built-in 8GB hard drive.

So whether you already have an original Xbox, or are looking to get one, the information below will be extremely valuable. Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to swap the hard drive in an original Xbox.

An Xbox hard drive ready to install

Tools Needed To Upgrade Your Original Xbox Hard Drive?

First things first, below you will find every possible tool you will need to take on this project:

  • A T10 or T15 Torx screwdrivers
  • A small plastic prying tool to open the various pressure-fit seals
  • A computer with a Windows OS
  • An Internet Connection
  • A USB-Drive of at least 6 GB capacity. Make sure that your USB Drive is formatted in the NTFS format
  • A 2.5-inch IDE Hard Drive or SSD. I recommend going for a hard drive with a larger capacity. Something with at least 500 GB capacity, but I’ve heard about people installing as much as 1 or 2TB.
  • A SATA adapter to connect your new hard drive to the computer.

Note that you can use a SATA hard drive in your Xbox but it is not supported out of the box. You must purchase an IDE converter to connect a SATA drive.

How To Prepare The New Hard Disk For Your Xbox Console

Unfortunately, swapping the hard drive in your original Xbox is not a plug-and-play affair. Before you can install your shiny new hard drive, you must first prepare it. I told you, Microsoft has made the process harder than it has any right to be. 

Preparing your hard drive means writing some very specific information on it so that your console can easily recognize it and communicate with it once it has been installed.

The very first step is to connect your hard drive to your computer via USB or a SATA connection. Once your PC recognizes the new drive, open your PC’s control panel, select System and Security (called Performance and Maintenance in Windows XP), select Administrative Tools, double-tap on Computer Management, and finally select the Disk Management option in the drop-down menu.

The Disk Management function in Microsoft Windows will allow you to create and modify hard drive partitions. Make sure your new disk does not have any previously established partitions, and that all of the available space is unallocated.

In case your disk has been used before this process and a partition already exists, you may use the Disk Management tool to delete it.

Once you have ensured that your new hard drive is completely clean, and without any previous partitions, you will have to create the partitions required by your original Xbox. More on that below. First, however, let’s learn how to access the console’s built-in disk.

How To Access Your Original Xbox’s Hard Drive

This next step can be tricky. Before you start, make sure that you have all the necessary tools.

You will need both Torx T10 and T15 screwdrivers. The T15 screwdriver will be used for the larger screws and the T10 for the smaller ones. Both are star-shaped.

Completely unplug your original Xbox, making sure that all power has been drained from the system. You can do this by pressing the On button for anywhere between 10 and 15 seconds after you have unplugged it from the wall.

Turn your console upside down. Remove the four anti-slip pads found on each corner of the console, and remove the hidden screws using the T15 screwdriver.

You will also need to remove two screws that are found on the sides of the consoles. 

After you have removed all the necessary screws, you will need to VERY CAREFULLY flip the Xbox upside up again, and remove the top cover. Once you do, you will have direct and unlimited access to remove the hard drive.

Flash Your New Hard Drive

This is one of the most crucial steps in the entire process.

Before you install your drive, you must softmod it. For this, it will be necessary to download a program called ZXBInstaller. This useful program will unlock the hard drive and allow you to install the necessary information so that your console recognizes and communicates with your new disk.

ZXBInstaller can be downloaded from its official website and various other online portals dedicated to soft-modding.

Once you have downloaded the ZXBInstaller, unzip the file and burn it to a blank CD, thus creating an ISO. You can use a variety of programs for this step. If you don’t have one, you can try ISO Workshop or ImgBurn. However, feel free to use whatever tool you are most familiar with.

After you have taken care of this step, go to your open console and disconnect the IDE cable from the back of your old hard drive. Connect the IDE cable to your new disk.

Now connect your original Xbox to the TV and the power supply, making sure that the new hard drive has power. Turn on the console and just as you see the familiar Xbox logo appear on the screen, quickly disconnect the IDE cable to stop the boot mode on the disk.

Disconnect the new drive, and reconnect the old one.

Insert the ISO disc with the ZXBInstaller file and wait for the program to do its magic. Don’t worry if it takes a while. It typically takes a few minutes to get started, and a few more to complete.

Once you see the options menu appear on the screen, disconnect the IDE cable from the old drive and reconnect the new one. Select the Format menu option, and then click on Full Format.

The ZXBInstaller program will ask if you wish to continue, select the Yes option. Here you will need to press down on both triggers as well as the Start button on your controller to start the process.

Once the formatting process is complete, you will need to press the triggers and start button one more time to complete it. Now select the Xbox with Exploit option, then select the Full Exploit option.

Select the first option, and then click on UnleashX. Confirm, and then wait for the process to finish.

Installing Your New Hard Drive

Once the Exploit process is completed, you must lock your new hard drive before placing it permanently in your console. To do this, find the Explorer option from within the main menu.

Once there, find the D drive option, select Installation, and then Applications. Locate the Default.xbe option in the ConfigMagic menu. When the console starts up again, press the Start button and select the Lock HDD options. Press the button on your controller to complete.

Afterward, press A again and exit the ConfigMagic menu.

Turn off your modded Xbox, and insert the new disk. Secure it with the necessary screws and make sure it fits properly before replacing the plastic lid and screwing in the corners.

Making Sure Your Original Xbox Console Recognizes Your New Hard Drive

After completing this process and connecting the new hard drive, you have to make sure that your console can recognize and read it.

Here is how you do that:

  1. Press the Guide button on your controller. Now find the Settings tab, and select System Settings.
  2. Select the Storage or Memory option. 
  3. Make sure that your new Hard Drive appears listed in the available storage devices.

If so, you are good to go. If it doesn’t work, you may need to reopen the console and reconnect the hard drive.