While the Xbox 360 has long supported adding external storage devices, it has only recently gained the ability to add large capacity devices with up to 2 TB of storage. And that has inspired me to upgrade the storage in my own 360. Here’s what you need to know.
First, you may not need more storage. If you’ve had your Xbox 360 for a while, as I have, you probably have a lot of junk on its internal (or bundled) storage. So take the time to remove the stuff you never use, especially games, which can take up many gigabytes of space. To do so, navigate to System, Storage and then the correct device (Hard Drive on my 360, a 250 GB unit). Then select a product category (Games and Apps, for example) and see what’s in there. And then delete space-hogging games and other content you never access anymore.
Adding storage? You need USB storage. The Xbox 360 has three USB 2.0 ports—sorry, they’re not USB 3.0—with two on the front hidden under a little door and one on the back. You can plug USB storage—flash drives and/or hard drives—into any or all of these ports if you want. For my own upgrade, I bought a 1 TB WD external hard drive. (It was actually designed for the Mac, but for whatever reason was cheaper—just $65—than the Windows equivalent on Amazon.com that day. You can format it with the Xbox 360 system software, so no worries on the formatting.)
Access the new storage device. To access the storage devices on your console, navigate to System, Storage. You should see the new device in your list of storage devices.
Configure device options. Tap the (A) button on the controller to access the storage device’s options, which include Rename, Format (which I needed to use for the Mac hard drive), Clear System Cache, and Transfer Content.
Transfer all of the content from one storage device to another. If you want to replace one storage device with another—for example, perhaps you were using a 32 GB USB flash drive before and have upgraded to a larger hard drive as I have—you can do so somewhat easily. Just navigate into the Device Options screen for that device and choose Transfer Content. You’ll be prompted to select a Destination device, e.g. the new hard drive or other storage device. Then, select Start. (Or modify the list of what is going to be transferred if you’d like.)
Transfer a game or other content to a new storage device. You can transfer an individual large game, video or other content to a different storage device. To do so, navigate into Settings, System, Storage and then the storage device that contains that game or other content. Then, dive into the correct content category (Games and Apps, Videos, or whatever) and find the content you wish to move. Select the item and then tap (Y) for Game Options, and then select Move and choose a destination device. Alternatively, you can select the game and then choose which game content to move.
Save new content to the new storage device. Unfortunately, Xbox 360 doesn’t let you choose a default storage device—that would be too obvious, I guess—but you can at least choose where to download new content at the time of the download … but only if your internal storage is too full. Otherwise, you’ll need to move content around after it’s been downloaded. Hopefully this changes in the future.