Western Digital Elements 1TB External Drive Meets My XBox 360

So I bought a Western Digital Elements 1TB External Drive the other day and proceeded to copy loads of video content onto it. Turns out I should of checked it first as it came formatted with NTFS from the factory. Turns out XBoxes can’t read NTFS, only Fat32 or HFS+ (Mac format). So I just wasted two days of copying and converting data to an XBox readable format only to find out it doesn’t like the actual file system ARGH!

XP and Vista refused to format the drive to Fat32 due to its capacity, the only option either of them gave me was NTFS or exFat. I tried several things [read: wasted a lot of time] but in the end I got it sorted. Here’s the list of things that didn’t work as well as what finally did work.

  • Western Digitals own Fat32 formating utility cryptically called External USB/FireWire Fat32 Formatting Utility. After a wee bit of unzipping, installing, configuring and then actually running it failed. Said the drive was of an unrecognised size even though the site clearly states it’s the right utility for the right product. Epic fail Western Digital. I do really like your external drive though so you’re still winners in my book!
  • Formatting via dos – format /FS:FAT32 J: Went through the entire % range then crapped out with a message about the disk size not being supported.
  • Tried Tokiwas Fat32Formatter utility. Failed to format the drive after the old partition was erased. The end result was that the old partition gets cleared, then it creates the new one but then fails just prior to the actual format with this error popup “Failed to determine drive”.

So what did I use that actually worked?
Ridgecrops Fat32 formater. I used the “Windows GUI version of fat32format”. The first step is to follow the instructions on their “FAT 32 Formatter” page. That guides you through using the disk management console in Windows. All you have to do is delete the old partion, create a new primary partition and give it a drive letter then in the final stage tell it not to format the drive.

So, back to running the GUI formatter app. The first step is to pick the drive letter you just assigned from the drop down. For such a large drive the default allocation size of 32768 is fine. Setting it to the default for smaller drives, 4096, will result in having access to less than half the drives size. Give it a Volume label. I stuck with “Elements” which was the original. I left Quick Format ticked as it would take well over an hour to do a full format and I really don’t need that. After tapping start it takes less than a minute to reformat the drive. Windows then sees it as a Fat32 drive with 931 GB available. The same as when it was using NTFS.

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  • damoon006

    I can confirm that the Ridgecrop FAT32 formater works for my 1TB Elements hard drive, works great on my xbox 360 (the new one, Halo Reach edition).
    Thanks dude you are a lifesaver!

  • Nick

    Can you use this drive as a network drive?

  • Anonymous

    Nope, it’s just a USB HDD enclosure. It needs to be hooked up directly to be able to access its data.

  • Blake

    Thanks for that

  • jism

    you are a god ! thank you.

  • JH

    Can this drive work in an Xbox 360 Slim? I have the correct 1TB WD drive, the case enclosure for the “new drive”, and I have previously had success with installing a 120GB WD drive into my new slim. I used HDDHACKR to format the drive and used the correct HDDSS.bin file, but will this be necessary if the 1TB drive fits? Thanks in advance for your help.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never done what you are asking. I’m not sure if HDDHACKR supports 1 TB drives, I couldn’t find any official mention of this.

A wise master does not reveal all his secrets at once. In due time, my apprentice.

— Count Dooku