Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Increasing the storage capacity of the Xbox

I did not quite expect that I will need to do this mod so soon but given the rate I was downloading movie trailers via the AMT module, I guess it should not have come as a surprise.

Swapping the stock 8Gb HDD for a larger capacity HDD can be easy or hard depending on how your Xbox is modded. For those with hard-modded Xbox, its a piece of cake; Just read on and follow the instructions below. For the soft-modded camp, take a deep breath and click here for a detailed howto guide.

A couple of things are needed to carry out this modification:

  • A hard-modded Xbox with network connectivity and FTP access (i.e. either the XBMC or EvoX dash)
  • A PC with network connectivity and FTP client
  • A large capacity IDE hard disk
  • Auto Installer Deluxe (AID) on DVD
Before we start, please look here for some important information regarding limitations and the selection of the replacement hard disk!

For the hard disk, I managed to salvage a 30Gb Western Digital HDD from my stock pile of PC spare parts (or junk as the endearing term other members of my family like to use) that I've accumulated over the years. (and its times like this that you appreciate not throwing them out!)

For the AID DVD, I simply kept the copy which I used to install XBMC some three months back.

The first step in the mod is to prepare the replacement hard drive if you are reusing a old one. Those with new hard drives can skip this step. Hook it up as slave in your PC and do a health check using the excellent hard disk utility Data Lifeguard Diagnostic. It is highly recommended that you do an extended test which includes a surface scan to make sure that the platters are physically ok.

Next, backup your existing files on the Xbox to your PC. To do this, FTP into your Xbox from your PC and copy everything in the E:\XBMC\UserData folder (this is where all your custom settings and preferences are found). Do remember to copy any other data which you may have uploaded to the Xbox previously (e.g. your pictures, music, movies, and in my case, the downloaded movie trailers!).

When the backup is done, power off the Xbox, open up the casing and physically swap the stock HDD with the replacement unit. Instructions on how to open up the Xbox and remove the HDD can be found here. Connect up the cables but don't screw the cover back on just yet.

Power up your Xbox with the AID DVD in the drive. After a couple of seconds, you should see the AID boot menu on the screen. Choose "format/prepare hdd". Then "Modchip One-click Installs" to setup the new XBMC.

When done, eject the DVD and reboot. Now ftp all the contents that you have backed up previously back to the Xbox. Oh, and remember to put the screws back on! Enjoy!

Total time taken for the job : 3 weeks (20mins for the actual job of replacing the hard drive and restoring the contents, 2.9 weeks to find the @#$%^&* torx screw drivers!)

P/S: one more thing I found, on dual boot modchips, you will no longer be able to boot to original Xbox dashboard (you will get an error message instead) as the replacement drive is "unlocked" by default. This is fine with me as I only use the Xbox for XBMC.

If you need to run the original Xbox bios, you will need to "lock" the replacement hard drive. To do so, boot up AID again and choose "Config Magic" under "Advanced Options". In one of the menus, you will be able to lock the drive. Note the master password "TEAMASSEMBLY".

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