March 26th 2010 1:00 pm PT

USB Memory Support for the Xbox 360 coming April 6th


On April 6th, we will be releasing a system update over Xbox LIVE for your Xbox 360 that will allow USB flash drives to be used for storing profiles, game saves, demos and more.  I’ve been testing this feature out for a few weeks, and I have to say it’s really great. Once you take the system update on April 6th, you’ll be able to connect your USB flash drives to your console and head over to the memory section to configure your new storage device. Once you do that, the system will conduct a one time performance and integrity check to confirm the drive is working properly. You will then be able to configure how much storage to use on the device, up to 16 GB. The remaining space on the flash drive will be accessible by your PC or Mac. USB Hard drives may work, but like flash memory, you’ll only be able to use up to 16GB of space. Since performance on flash based USB storage is usually better, I highly recommend using flash based instead of spinning media like a hard drive…it’s just going to give you a MUCH better experience.


We’ve also enhanced the memory management functions, so you’ll be able to have better control on what you want to copy or move between storage devices.


A couple of points: 

  • You can have 2 devices connected to the console at a time, enabling up to 32GB of simultaneous storage.
  • The system won’t just configure the device once it is connected to the console. You’ll need to head to the memory area in system settings, select your USB Device, and choose from Configure Now (Format and Configure the Full Device), or Customize (you can choose how much memory you want configured for Xbox360 from the free space on the device.) 

While any flash drive can be used, we are partnering with SanDisk to release an Xbox 360 branded USB flash drive in May that comes pre-configured out of the box and ready to go. I’ll provide links to those drives once they’re available. Until then, starting April 6th (when we release the system update) you can pop any flash drive over 1GB into your Xbox 360 and configure it as storage.


We hope you’ll enjoy this flexible new way to manage your Xbox 360 profile and game data.



Xbox 360 By Larry Hryb, Xbox LIVE's Major Nelson

  • burndust

    any thing else in the update worth mentioning?
    offline divx support?
    mkv support?
    internet browser?

    im greedy

    i want moar

  • P00K

    @ZaZeeMan: Yes, that was my point. It sounded like he was comparing a usb-connected flash drive to a sata-connected hdd… I don’t think that’s what major intended. Rather I think he was saying he prefers usb-connected flash to usb-connected hdd.

  • OutlawEA

    just one question major is there any way we can hook are 120gb or 20gb through usb since i have a 250gb also but just wondering or is it not possible

  • Lucky 13 X

    It’s great to hear that this is confirmed to be coming Major.

    This takes away one more promotional bullet point from the competition’s console. This change should also ensure more DLC & Games on Demand purchases on the system(if supported). I know I will be giving those Games on Demand offers on the console a second look as I have only bought two Xbox Original titles up to now during sales(Fable & Halo: CE), and made all my other GoD purchases through Games for Windows LIVE. Also, I can now choose to keep some of my Zune video marketplace purchases on the console’s extra storage options, instead of on my PC HDD and always using the streaming option(once again – if supported). Awesome work Xbox team on making this an option.

    @ Mcmax3000 and others. I am confident there is a technical reason that the Xbox 360 can only use up to 16GB of USB storage for each connected devise. Hopefully, the additional storage size limit will be increased in the future as sufficiently possible to maybe even “DEV KIT” sizes. ;-)

    Also, as others have pointed out from a business perspective, if there was not a size limit of 16GB for whatever possible technical reason, there would not be much reason to still purchase the surprisingly cheap(compared to the initial price of the 20 & 120GB standalone drives at launch) & easily portable 250 GB harddrive for $130 US?

    The ability to copy/move multiple selections at once? Finally!

    And I just noticed Friday’s Games for Windows LIVE deal through your Twitter. Viva Pinata for $5.00?! Glad I did not buy it at the launch discounted price of $10, cause 5 bucks is an outrageous steal for that addicting game. I guess I will forgo trying to find the retail box version for $10 to 15.

  • Exu

    Considering you’re bigging up flash storage, how about releasing an affordable 250GB SSD drive? Imagine the performance!

  • oO Mr Pibb Oo

    Its about time they allowed USB drives. I had heard if you have a “jtag hack” Xbox360 this was possible- but now its nice that us with legitimate xbox’s can use the USB. It’s unfortunate but understandable that the limit to storage is 16GB. It is gong to be awesome to be able to rip your game to you USB drive, as the transfer speeds will be much faster than the 5400rpm xbox360 hard drive.

    Installing and playing a game off your USB drive should increase load times significantly.

  • Darth Pman

    Thank you so much for adding USB support for Xbox. I’ve been running low on memory. My 8GB stick will do the trick. Actually, I’m going to go buy a 16GB real cheap at Micro Center.

  • Daphoid

    The USB connectivity is indeed the big bottleneck.

    Your drive can be the fastest the SSD possible but going over USB there’s only so fast it can go.

    Even worse some games are constantly reading and writing which can slow some USB devices down even further, especially 4200RPM Hard Drives.

    So in some cases USB is speedy, in others it’s slow as hell. The usual slow culprits are slower spinning hard drives.

    And since the majority of Xbox 360 gamers are just that, gamers, and not iT techs, they wouldn’t be aware of this. They’d run out to Best Buy, grab the biggest drive they could afford and throw it into an enclosure.

    Then they’d get home and wonder why it was running slowly, blame Microsoft, call 1-888-4MYXBOX and complain, or go on the forums and bitch :P.

    Limiting it to 16GB means most people will use USB keys which are cheaper to afford and for the most part faster.

    And if you do happen to use a bigger drive, it will partition it. When you plug it into your PC or Mac you’ll see a partition that is 16GB smaller then the Xbox 360 partition, you can drag all the music and video you want onto this drive and it will be readable by the xbox.

    The 16GB partition will act just like a Xbox Memory Unit and can have games and things put on it.

    – D

  • Ganon255

    Just small enough(16GB) to make us still need to buy M$’s overpriced HDD’s

  • Scrappylive

    So I can FINALLY take my profile and arcade games to a friend’s house? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhsome!

  • Velete

    limited to 16gig eh?
    funnily enough, MS just put their 250GB drives on sale…

  • DHX

    Uhh why all the whining about the 16GB size limit?? There’s no sense to whine just for the sake of whining, you know.

    It’s a THUMB Drive people! How big could you possibly want it to be?
    They don’t come much bigger than a 120GB Xbox 360 HDD, and at those sizes they literally cost a small fortune! Definitely pricier than buying THREE 120GB HDD’s!!!

    You see any “limit” as a threat and demand more more more, but you’re forgetting to think about cost! For the price of any thumb drive larger than 16GB you might as well buy an HDD instead!

    As you see, the reason behind the limit is likely because it’s simply not economical to have anything larger! A 250GB Xbox HDD = $120. A 256GB Flash Drive = (brace yourself…) $1100! The price of thumb drives are shockingly expensive even when compared to Microsoft’s storage options, and especially when you get over 16GB!

    Settle down and be happy with what we’re getting! 16GB is a ginormicous leap over the 512MB MU’s we were previously limited to! I’d be willing to bet that most of the complainers don’t have even a 16GB thumb drive (guess what, they’re expensive too)!

  • wiirule111

    @DHX: Well spoken! People forget one thing, and why would you need more than 2 * 16.GB drives at once in addition to their 120.GB +/- HD?

    32.GB, 64.GB, 128.GB ++ Flash drives is getting quite expensive compared to a 16.GB Flash, and a official 250.GB HD would be cheaper. I guess several people here dont even know how much 16.GB is, and dont even know that you can swap drives. How many GB of DLC do you really have?

    Since you can use any 16.GB Flashdrive from any brand, i dont see any problem. I only need 2 or 3 to backup my DLC, or maybe more if arcade games can be copied to flash too.

    Those who can see the whole picture with this, would never complain about 16.GB limit.

  • wiirule111

    I will add to this that 16.GB is a big step for 360, and it was my most wanted feature. I can finally make more room on my 120.GB HD so i can install more retail games to HD. I used to have up to 13 retail games at once on HD, and now i have 6 or so. I like to have many installed, because i often switch games and dont want to install every damn time. I bought nearly 60 games on LIVE, and 130 retail games on 360.

  • DR ROCKS0 13

    lol wouldnt that make it easier to mod games?

  • DR ROCKS0 13

    i mean you could go in on youre computer and change things inside the games file or add things or is there a security system for that?

  • AMT

    @ Mr. Pibb: I think we have discussed the issue of installing games on the Flash, and it might not be quicker than the installed HDD. Time will tell, but the fastest current might be just installing on the HDD. Unless the SSD enclosure connected by USB works but still that will be limited by the 16GB limit and perhaps the USB transfer limitation. Time will tell. As has been said, allow us to use SSD in place of the current HDDs and we are golden. Case closed, speed increases, everyone is happy outside of those that can’t afford it.

  • chiruno99

    After just buying a 120gb HDD. Hah it’s ok, I can get myself a 16GB device to sit in the back.


    So Major, is one of the “enhanced” memory management functions in this update going to include the ability to copy or move original Xbox gamesaves (and 360 gamesaves not previously copyable/moveable)? I just recently got the FFXIII 360 and was transferring gamesaves from my old Elite HDD using a 512MB MU (that I just got right before this update was announced, grrr thanks a lot MS!) and much to my surprise, I noticed that the only option available for my original Xbox gamesaves was “Delete”. I’d like to finish up Fable:TLC on my new 360, but I’d really rather not have to swap HDDs just to do it if I didn’t need to.

    Oh btw, for those wondering, 16GB USB Flash drives are currently going for around $30-40 on average on Amazon.

  • wiirule111

    Lexar used to be among the most expensive flash drives, but nowadays they are cheaper than Sandisk and maybe even Kingston. The most reliable flash drives is Lexar, Kingston and Sandisk, and probably others.
    Remember that some nonane brands, or cheap shit brands frequently gets read and write errors on flash and you might lose everything. Buy a reliable brand to make safe backups. You will regret later for not buying as proper flash instead.

  • XBOXDroobey

    Oooh no I can use my big USB hard drive…oh wait. Never mind. Ill be bothered when the 16GB limits gone which will probably be when M$ stop making so much money on there proprietary hard drives.

  • SamF2000

    Well this at least lets the ARCADE Console users have a better way to save games.
    This is a step in a positive direction. Now Arcade units can have decent storage for save games and some videos.

  • Anonymous

    I lol’ed at the comment that MS should give all users a free 1GB drive. ROFL XD Holy crap I’m crying in laughter!!

  • Rhaxx

    We will be able to install games to the USB and play from them, right?

  • AMT

    @Rhaxx I think so, but it may be a slower loading than having them installed on the HDD. Not certain however.

  • SumHydroponic

    Any word of anything else in the spring update?

  • DavidGX

    So, Major, give us a good excuse why it’s only up to 16gb per drive for two drives.

    We all know it’s so microsoft can sell it’s ridiculously priced HDDs, but I’m just curious what the official spin on this is.

  • El RoiieR

    I’d love to bring my Xbox Originals with me in a USB drive xD

    GTA San Andreas & Halo.

    Esperando actualizacion desde Mexico. Saludos a todos. ^o^

  • Parassassin

    About time!!

    One thing I would like to know, how big is Major Nelsons hard drive as it is showing 298gb free space. I thought the largest HD available was the 250gb unless you are using a modded xbox?

    Just a thought….

  • Parassassin

    Just read the comments on the flickr page ><

    Dev kit hdd ftw!!!

  • AMT

    ATTENTION: I am going to give the SSD and enclosure a shot. The SSD has a read of about 230 mb/s and write of 135 mb/s. Plus, the access will blow 360 HDD out of the water. The only question is will the USB limit the speed any.

    According to the recent podcast, USB HDDs are usuable. Thus, my SSD and enclosure “should” work. The only question is speed. I will be testing and hopefully speed will be evident with quicker loading. :|

    This may give me the option to have two game installs on the drive (the two that I am playing at the time (if game installs is allowed)) plus game saves, and profile all on the SSD drive.

  • AMT

    “Access time” that is. (Should be quicker)

  • SpaceNinjaDino

    Way better than before, but there should have been way beyond 16GB. Whatever the max FAT32 or NTFS can do (whatever XBOX is using). I mean, Microsoft should really encourage unlimited storage. Making money on software, not proprietary hard drives. My 120GB constantly fills up from installs (and I only install half the games I pop in). The 250GB would make life a little bit better, but still I’d be deleting at least once a month. I want to be able to hook up 2TB+.

    I don’t even do anything fancy like buy HD movies or Games on Demand. No way will I even touch that stuff while I feel my neck constrained on the GB freeway.

  • Dynamo Matt

    I guess receiving this update so soon before the closure of Live for the original Xbox means we won’t be seeing the new “features and experiences that harness the full power of Xbox 360″ for some time yet.

  • Twisk

    @ SpaceNinjaDino, me too. I just want to buy another 2TB hard drive (external USB) and connect it to my 360. …install all my games to it. If it means formatting it in some way that I could never use it with my Mac then so be it – I just want to install all my games to one nice big drive.

  • nate22692

    AWESOME!!! Been wanting support like this since day 1!!! It’s a little disappointing that it is limited to only 2 16GB devices, but that is a lot better than nothing. Can’t wait to almost triple the amount of space on my Xbox. Finally I don’t have to delete things to make room or go pay for one of those overpriced drives to replace my 20GB one. Good job MS. :)

  • Glasswalker33

    First I’d like to say, ‘Thank you!’

    Secondly, to everyone complaining about the limitations, or the fact that MS is charging exorbitant prices for hardware accessories, um… they’re a company. Their purpose is to make money. Do I agree that a wireless network adapter for a console should cost more than one that can be used with a more powerful PC? Of course not. But again, it’s a business.

    This is going to make migrating a ton of Rock Band DLC from a 20GB to a 60GB so much easier. And no transfer cable needed. Awesome!

    Technical Questions:
    1) Do we know yet if the USB devices in question will have to be formatted with FAT32, or can we use an existing NTFS formatted device? (This question comes from the fact that to view .AVIs, .JPGs, etc. from an external USB device, it must be formatted with FAT32. Or at least it was a year or so ago.)

    2) Even if the user is limited to using only 2 USB sticks at a time, can they be attached to a USB hub for use? (Network Adapter, Live Vision Camera, Play & Charge, Rock Band 1 Guitar, USB Cooling Unit (not Intercooler), USB Keyboard, USB Stick 01, USB Stick 02 = way more than the 3 USB ports available on the Xbox.

    3) Can we move Games On Demand items to the USB Stick?

    4) Can we move videos purchased through the Video Marketplace now Zune Marketplace to the USB Stick?

    5) Will games be able to access this while in play? For example, moving most of my Rock Band DLC onto a stick, and have it plugged in while playing.


  • KEVN38

    Very nice.

  • xJLBx

    This is awesome. I have lost 2 360’s to RROD, each one about a year apart. Lost all my save games and had to start over. Most of the games that I had put alot of time into, I never restarted. I didn’t want to pay 50 bucks for a 360 memory card and now I don’t have to, or worry about ever losing my save games again. Thank you Micorsoft.

  • HazardousAuzzie

    this is very good

  • noikz360

    WOW !! USB flash memory … that’s like … from the future … right? We can only dream of having regular HDD support, maybe in 2027?

    What a joke.


    @ Glasswalker33

    The 360 uses the FATX file system.

    It can not be read by operating system by conventional means. You have to use a program such as ‘Xplorer360′ to view the contents of a FATX device in Windows.

  • Ark Hunter

    Can you plug these in the back USB port or is that not recommended? Will game installs run off them be better or worse than the attached hard drive?

  • Glasswalker33

    That’s not really the way I was looking at it. I’m not wanting to view the 360 contents on a PC. From what you’re saying though, it sounds like the stick will end up having at least two partitions on it (is that even possible?), one that’s FATX that only the 360 can get into, and the other would be FAT32 or NTFS, whichever I normally use.

    Is that closer to the target?


  • Kitatojirin

    I would really like to know more about this update. Is this an update that’s going to require a hard drive to install in the first place? Or should more recent models be able to handle this update without a hard drive. We have a Pro console, bought about 9 months ago (in New Zealand) but we don’t have the hard drive anymore – just my crappy 64MB MU. Please tell me we can haz this update anyway??

  • AMT

    You should be good to go Kit! Updates (I think) is on the system not HDD or MU. Basically it is installed on internal memory that is hidden. Plus, you will be able to have USB FLash as a boost to your MU soon.

  • OS Perry

    I wasn’t too far off I guessed $79.99 for 16GB USB in an earlier post here.

    Looks to be $69.99 for an official MS Xbox 360 16GB USB Drive.

    MS just never seems to learn.

  • OS Perry

    Oh, and when NXE was announced it was mentioned that this technology would enable MS to roll out more frequent updates to us… not 2 a year. That really hasn’t happened yet, now has it?

    Any chance of anything else coming in this Spring update, or will we have to wait till Fall/Winter for another update? More than 100 on our friends list, ability to organize friends/notes?

    Would be nice to get more regular updates.

  • II iTz RaCx II

    ey u can give me the update ???

  • Anonymous

    @OS Perry – You seem shocked they haven’t made good on their “more frequent updates” promise of NXE. Remember how they also promised Avatars were going to reinvent the social gaming paradigm on the 360 by allowing developers to give us Avatar awards and by having games which utilize our Avatars?

    Haven’t seen much of that yet, either. There’s what? Six games, maybe, which give avatar awards and, as far as I know, only one actual RETAIL game which allows us to use our Avatars (Sonic and SEGA All Star Racing), and only a handful of XBLA games which use them. They completely undermined avatar awards by making the Avatar Marketplace. Why would devs want to give away Avatar swag when they could try to make us PAY for it?

    I also remember how they said NXE was going to optimize screen space and allow them to minimize or cut down on advertising. Yeah, I KNEW those two were lies. Almost everything they promised with NXE has been completely unrealized or ignored.