Windows

How to Connect Your Xbox 360 Hard Drive to Your PC

Christian Cawley Updated 10-03-2020

Whether you’ve stopped using your Xbox 360 or you need to backup data, there’s a good chance you’ve considered connecting the Xbox hard drive to your PC.

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But is the Xbox 360 disk drive compatible with a PC? How can you connect it and view the files? And would you really want to?

Here’s how to connect your Xbox 360 hard drive to a Windows PC.

Why Connect Your Xbox 360 HDD to a PC?

It’s not immediately obvious, but the Xbox 360 hard disk drive (HDD) is a standard 2.5-inch SATA storage device. You’ll find a similar drive in your PC or laptop. As such, it can be connected to any PC either using an adapter cable or via a HDD docking station.

But why go to the trouble of connecting your Xbox HDD to a computer?

  • You need to back up your Xbox 360 HDD (e.g., the HDD is about to die)
  • You want to read the Xbox 360 files on your PC
  • You want to reuse the disk drive for data storage

Reading the Xbox 360 disk drive isn’t simple, however.

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The Reality of Reading an Xbox 360 HDD on Your PC

With some work, the HDD from any Xbox 360 can be connected to a Windows computer. But connecting an Xbox 360 disk drive to your PC might not have the results you’re expecting.

The problem comes with reading the device.

If you’re looking for a way to view Xbox 360 files on your PC, things get tricky without a dedicated utility. Incredibly, Windows cannot read an Xbox 360 disk drive. Instead, you’ll be prompted to format the device upon connection without Windows giving you a suitable option to read it.

Currently, the best tool for reading your Xbox 360 drive is FATXplorer.

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This utility is available for Windows Vista SP2 and later. It can be downloaded in 32-bit and 64-bit versions but costs $25. Fortunately, it also has a seven-day trial.

Download: FATXplorer ($25)

Note that some antivirus software displays FATXplorer as malware. However, this is a false positive, so you can install the utility safely.

FATXplorer reads Xbox 360 disks on PC

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Once installed and running, FATXplorer will let you view files on your Xbox 360 (and Xbox original) hard disk drive. You just need a way to connect your Xbox 360 HDD to your PC.

Can You Use an Xbox 360 HDD Transfer Cable?

Before spending time hacking your old Xbox 360 HDD case, consider the Xbox 360 Hard Drive transfer cable.

Xbox 360 Hard Drive transfer cable Xbox 360 Hard Drive transfer cable Buy Now On Amazon $34.99

It is designed for copying the contents of one HDD to another and it also works with a PC. So, connect the Xbox 360 hard disk case to the transfer cable and plug the USB cable into your PC. FATXplorer should then detect the device to read the Xbox 360 files on Windows.

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If you don’t want to use the official transfer cable (or similar devices) you can try a DIY solution. However, you need to remove the hard drive from your Xbox 360 first.

Removing the Xbox 360 Hard Drive

Before connecting the hard drive to a PC you must remove it from your Xbox 360. Three models of Xbox 360 were released:

  • Original Xbox 360 (2005)
  • Xbox 360 S (2010)
  • Xbox 360 E (2013)

Each requires a different set of steps for removing the hard disk drive

Before proceeding, ensure that the Xbox 360 console is shut down and the device disconnected from the mains.

Remove the HDD from an Xbox 360 Original

To remove the HDD from the original model of the Xbox 360, you’re going to need two TORX screwdrivers. Specifically, TORX T-6 and T-10. If you don’t already own these, they can be easily picked up on Amazon.

Torx Screwdriver Set Torx Screwdriver Set Buy Now On Amazon $21.99

You should also consider buying an anti-static wrist strap. Learn about the risks of static electricity What Is Static Electricity? And How to Get Rid of It Concerned about static electricity? If you're building a PC, you should be. Learn how to get rid of static electricity today. Read More to find out more.

On the original Xbox 360, the HDD connects to the side (or top if you stand your console upright). It’s housed in a sealed case, designed to match the shape of the Xbox 360 in profile.

To proceed, eject the case by pressing the release button.

If you plan to access the HDD with a transfer cable, connect this to the prominent black plug. To open the drive, turn it over and remove the Microsoft seal.

Be aware that this voids all and any warranty that you have left on your Xbox 360’s hard drive. If it breaks after the procedure, you’ll have to buy a new one.

Don’t worry too much though, the warranty on your Xbox 360 console will remain intact, nonetheless.

Look for four visible screws (one was under the seal)—remove these with the TORX T-6 screwdriver.

TORX screws secure the Xbox 360 HDD in its case

After that, remove the top gently. You might need to use a plastic knife or guitar pick to help.

Don’t pull too hard, just start at the rounded side and pull it open slowly. The square end should give way too, in the end.

Inside you’ll discover four more TORX screws. Use the T-10 this time.

After you’ve removed them, pull away the thin metal cover to reveal the 2.5-inch hard drive.

Unplug the cable, then lift the drive to pull it free from the caddy.

Remove the HDD from an Xbox 360

(You might need to lift the drive first to get enough space to remove the cable.)

Remove the HDD From an Xbox 360 S

Things are simpler with the Xbox 360 S. With the console positioned horizontally, facing you, find the hard drive cover release on the right-hand side. You’ll find it near the back of the console.

Slide the release toward you, opening the hard drive cover as you do.

Remove the hard drive by pulling the tab.

With the drive removed, remember to close the cover.

Eject the Hard Drive From the Xbox 360 E

For the Xbox 360 E, hard drive removal is almost as simple.

Again, with the console laid horizontally and facing you, locate the hard drive cover release on the right.

This time, the release slides diagonally, down and toward you. Pull the hard drive door open at the same time.

Once again, pull the tab to remove the HDD.

Connecting Your Bare Xbox 360 Hard Drive to Your PC

With the HDD removed from your Xbox 360, you’re ready to connect it to your PC. You have three ways to do this.

  • SATA to USB cable
  • SATA to USB HDD docking station
  • Install the disk inside your PC

Let’s look at those options in more detail.

Connect the HDD to Your PC With a SATA to USB Cable

To hook up the HDD with your PC, the easiest solution is a SATA to USB adapter. These are affordable cables with a power supply that you’ll find on Amazon.

Safer than opening your computer, this solution is also tidier. You can reuse the cable later for other spare drives, too.

Connect the Xbox 360 HDD to a Docking Station

Using a hot-pluggable USB docking station, you can easily connect SATA devices to your PC without opening it.

Various options are available. The Olmaster USB 3.0 SATA hard drive docking station features an eject button. It’s also compatible with 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives.

Olmaster USB 3.0 docking station Olmaster USB 3.0 docking station Buy Now On Amazon $21.99

Alternatives might have multiple slots to handle more than one drive at a time. You could also use an empty external hard disk drive case to read the contents of the Xbox 360 HDD.

Install the Xbox 360 HDD Inside Your PC

As noted, the Xbox 360 HDD is a simple 2.5-inch SATA drive, so connect it like you would any other. Most computers open easily, and you can access the interior by removing just two screws.

Inserting the drive in your PC will require a SATA data cable connected from your computer’s motherboard. It will also require a SATA power cable from your computer’s power supply.

Secure the HDD in a free bay with two or more screws if you’re planning to leave it connected long-term.

Read or Reuse Your Xbox 360 Disk Drive on Windows

Accessing the contents of your Xbox 360 hard drive is straightforward with a dedicated transfer cable. Or you can rely on SATA adapters, or simply install the disk in your PC. You’ll also need a tool like FATXplorer to read the contents on Windows. Alternatively, format the disk and reuse it.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is removing the HDD from your Xbox 360. Fortunately, this gets easier with each subsequent version of the console. If you’re moving on from the old Microsoft console, here’s how to play Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One How to Play Xbox 360 Games on Xbox One If you've got an Xbox One, you can play many Xbox 360 games and even some original Xbox games. Read More .

Explore more about: Data Backup, Hard Drive, Hardware Tips, Xbox 360.

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  1. Steven D Hilliard
    December 12, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Can you use a laptop or do you have to use a desktop

  2. Mat
    October 6, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Why not say you need the cables where you said you need the right screwdrivers?!?!?!

  3. Pedro
    April 28, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Hello, i have a samsung 20GB xbox 360 HDD. i hooked it with a HDD 2,5' case(SATA to USB).
    In 2 pc's it is not recognised. Another pc sees it in device manager but as 0B
    Xplorer 360 does not see it anywhere. What can i do?

  4. Unlimited
    April 14, 2016 at 4:31 am

    do you have to have a SATA cable

  5. Thomas
    March 18, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    After I do this will I be able to find someone's IP Address and track them?

  6. Collin
    January 23, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Is there any way I can transfer the contents of my old 360 HDD (260GB) to my Xbox One? I also have an old laptop drive that is hooked up to my Xbox One on a docking station.

  7. killer
    January 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    lol dumb asses use a heat gun on the sticker so u don't break the seal open it an do whatever the hell u want to it put it back together an slap the lame sticker back on

  8. tommy
    December 18, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    just looking for a bit of help, i know you can link the hard drive to the comp via the data transfer cable that you can get with the 120gb hard drives and ive got Xplorer360 its just my computer dosent recognise it and i cant figure out how to get it to work if u can help my email is ttmonks3@hotmail.co.uk

  9. HS
    November 21, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Is there any way to use an old laptop hard drive as an 360 hard drive? thanks!

    • PD
      January 11, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      Hi HS

      Did you ever find out if you can use an old laptop hard drive as a 360 hard drive? And if yes, can you please share how to do it with me.
      Many thanks
      PD

  10. Chris dickinson
    November 12, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Thats great if i want to transfer music files and stuff, and when the warranty in it runs our (in about 2 months) i may try this. After using my data migration kit to back everything up, of course.

  11. LM
    November 11, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Why buy an XBox and pull it apart to plug the bleeding hard drive into you PC. Why? WTF is that?

    • DM
      November 19, 2009 at 8:24 am

      Perfect reason for you LM. I have to return my XBOX 360 to Costco because it has some problems and they have a lifetime warranty on the ones they sell. I have to save the data before I return it so it will not be lost, the only problem is that I do not want to void said warranty so this will not work. Great ideal on transferring though!

  12. eSPy
    November 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    a better solution without the need to rip open your hard drive would be to buy a proper xbox hard drive to usb cable. DealExtreme sells a few different ones as well as upgradeable hard drives.

    here is one of them http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.26392

  13. Bill
    November 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Can you figure a way that I can put my songs on Xbox instead rip them one CD after another??? And videos!!!

  14. Iambeaker
    November 11, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Is it possible to put a bigger (500g) hard drive in place of the 20 g hard drive? Would love to see a tutorial of this!

    • John L
      November 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

      As far as I know, the only upgrade you can hack yourself is to a 120GB drive. Even that has to be a very specific model hard drive, though. From what I understand, it's not a difficult process, though, assuming you have that model drive.

    • Simon Slangen
      November 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

      It's possible, but not as straightforward as you might think. Your hard drive needs to be specifically formatted to work with an Xbox 360
      Request noted ;-)

    • Simon Slangen
      November 11, 2009 at 10:51 am

      Sorry, John L is right. Perhaps in the future using a 500 GB hard drive will be possible.

  15. John L
    November 11, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Oh... and if you're not in Europe (and can't get it free), you can buy the transfer cable for less than $20 online.

  16. John L
    November 11, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Ummm... Is there something more advantageous about voiding your warranty to do this rather than ordering the free hard drive transfer kit from Microsoft? ( and click on the "How to get your Free Data Transfer Kit" link on the left.)

    It's certainly possible that the MS transfer kit is crippled in some way that I don't know about, but it seems silly to rip your 360's hard drive out if you don't have to.