Computer Tips and Tricks
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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Using Large external USB Drives on XBOX 360

Like millions of other PC users I have hundreds of video files that I have created or acquired over the years. These are always available to me to play on my computer any time I like. However, on occasions I like to kick back and watch these on my big screen TV.

I can do this in several ways. Burn the files to DVD and play them though my DVD player, which is a waste of discs and RW's tend to be unreliable. I could connect my computer to my TV via a HDMI cable or use the Media Centre Connector on my XBOX 360. However both requires my Computer to be running and in the Media Centre option, my Xbox as well, along with my TV. My computer is pretty hefty and uses a 750 WATT power supply. It is NOT light on the electricity bill.

My alternative option is to use an External USB Hard drive from the USB port on my XBOX 360 console and navigate with my Media Centre Remote Control.

However Microsoft, as usual do NOT like to make things easy. Firstly the XBOX 360 does NOT support the NTFS File system. It does support Mac's HFS+, but I do not own a Mac and all my data is for the PC. I do not wish to run software to read Mac data.

The only File System that both my PC and the XBOX 360 agree upon is FAT32. Here is the shortfall: Windows will only create FAT32 patitions of 32GB or less.

I have a 2.5" 250GB SATA Drive that I have placed in a Sunwire 2.5" USB Enclosure. I have a Gigs and Gigs of videos and I want to be able to use the maxmium capacity of the drive. Alot more than 32GB.
I after googling and extensive research I have found a tool called "SwissKnife" that will create FAT32 partitions of any size up to 500GB.

You can download this utility from here...

This will partition both internal and external, local drives: USB, Firewire, PCMIA, SATA and SCSI. It also supports FAT16 and NTFS file systems, and formats faster than Windows. However it doesn't run on Windows Vista or 7, so you may have to use a Windows XP machine (32 Bit) to configure your partitions with this utility.

UPDATE: I have just run this utility through a Windows XP Virtual PC on my Windows 7 laptop (Hardware Virtualization Rules!) With my 250GB SATA Drive in my new HDD Enclosure, I have been able to create a 250GB (give or take a few MB) FAT32 Partition, for use with my XBOX 360. Plenty of space for my videos. Now all I need is some popcorn and a cold one.

EDIT: Had to use Diskpart to completely wipe the Hard Drive before using Swissknife. This was due to an OEM partition being on the hard drive. Neither Windows or Swissknife could remove it.

From a command prompt (still on my Windows XP Virtual Machine) I used the following commands:
  • diskpart
  • list disk
  • select disk 1
  • clean
 Job Done!


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