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FATXplorer is a Windows-based PC utility that allows users to format, read, and write a hard drive. Its main use is to construct new hard drives for use in a modified Xbox. Version 3.0 of FATXplorer is the first version to support the original Xbox, with previous versions only supporting the Xbox 360.

A secured drive must be unlocked before its contents can be read. Later FATXplorer builds include the functionality needed to do this, as well as to lock an unsecured drive for use with an Xbox. SATA and IDE hard drives are supported. All SATA-to-IDE adapters that work with Windows will work with FATXplorer, although not every such adapter allows the use of ATA security commands.

Notably, FATXplorer is the first tool capable of formatting up to 16 TB. Previously, attempting to format a 3 TB hard drive would result in 2.2 TB of usable space.

Formatting an Xbox Hard Drive

The following steps can be followed to format a hard drive.[1]

  1. On a Windows PC, download and extract FATXplorer 3.0 Beta.
    • The beta builds are free but expire eventually, while the full releases can be purchased.[2]
  2. Open FATXplorer and click Formatting Tools.
  3. Select Original Xbox HDD.
  4. Select your Xbox drive. Do not select a drive that contains your personal data or operating system on, because the contents of the drive will be erased. Press Next once selected.
  5. Depending on the size of the hard drive, different prompts will be displayed at this step. For hard drives less than 2 TB, select LBA Increasing Bios Partition Table, and then press Next. For hard drives greater than 2 TB, read the prompt and answer with Yes or No.
    • For hard drives with a capacity of more than 2 TB, FATXPlorer can format up to 16 TB but this capacity beyond 2 TB can only be used by an Xbox modified with Cerbios[3][4] or Titan[5].
    • For hard drives with a capacity of 2 TB or less, FATXplorer offers an explanation of the benefits, drawbacks, and requirements of each choice. LBA Increasing Bios Partition Table is usually the most desirable choice.
    • Almost all modified Xboxes use a BIOS will respect a hard drive's partition table, and they will fall back to the BIOS built in partition table if a hard drive does not have its own partition table. In contrast, the unmodified retail Xbox BIOS does not read a hard drive partition table and requires that the hard drive conform to the BIOS partition table.
  6. Change partitions as desired. Then press Next.
    • The changes that can be made in this screen depend on what option was selected in the previous step; a choice of LBA Increasing Bios Partition Table for a <2 TB hard drive or Yes for a >2 TB hard drive allows the most freedom to make desired changes.
    • The default settings should be kept for the C and E partitions; changing those partitions will cause compatibility issues with the Microsoft Dashboard and some homebrew software.
    • The settings for the F and G partitions (and all other storage partitions that are not C and E) are safe to change. Note that the maximum partition size should be 927.78 GB, and the allocation unit/cluster size for these partitions should always be 65536 bytes.
      • It is possible to use a 1 TB partition size instead of 927.78 GB, but this may cause compatibility issues.
      • The allocation unit/cluster size is technically allowed to be smaller when using small partition sizes, but there is really no need to change it.
    • The cache partitions X, Y, and Z are formatted by default to 750 MB each. This cannot be changed, as the cache partitions are required in order for Xbox software to function.
  7. At this point, you are given the option to preload partitions. You can create a zip file with the desired contents of a partition, and tell FATXplorer the location of the zip file for each partition that you want to preload. Then press Next.
    • The preload step may be useful for setting up the C and E partitions. If you skip this step, you can still add the files later by mounting the partitions through the Devices section in FATXplorer.
  8. A summary is presented. Make sure everything looks right, then choose Format. The formatting process is complete.
    • If the C and E partitions were preloaded, then the hard drive is ready for use in an Xbox. If the C and E partitions were not preloaded, or if you want to add files such as games, then continue reading.

The following steps can be followed to add files to a hard drive.

  1. If you want to add content, or if you did not preload anything at all, then select Devices in FATXplorer.
  2. Select a partition to mount.
    • Only one partition can be mounted at a time.
  3. A Windows Explorer window will open. You may add files in the normal manner.
  4. Go back to the Devices menu in FATXplorer to unmount the current partition and mount another partition, then add files. Repeat until all files are added as desired.

FATX limitations

Xbox hard drives are formatted with the FATX file system. FATXplorer automatically prevents users from exceeding the limitations of the file system when adding files.

The FATX file system has the following limits:[6][7]

Partitions larger then 128 GB require a bios to have an LBA48 patch.

Partitions larger then 1TB (927.78 GB) are not supported on any xbox based formatting tool at this time. And only supported on newer bios like Cerbios[3][4] or Titan

Attribute Limitation
Maximum volume size 64 GB (with 4 KB clusters)
128 GB (with 8 KB clusters)
256 GB (with 16 KB clusters)
512 GB (with 32 KB clusters)
1 TB (with 64 KB clusters)

2 TB (with 128 KB clusters) 4 TB (with 256 KB clusters) 8 TB (with 512 KB clusters) 16 TB (with 1 MB clusters)

Maximum file size 4 GB (232 / 4,294,967,296 bytes), minus one cluster
Maximum filename length 42 characters
Maximum path length 240 characters
Maximum files and folders per root folder 4,096
Maximum files and folders per folder 240
Maximum folder depth 240
Possible cluster sizes 4 KB, 8 KB, 16 KB, 32 KB, 64 KB, 128 KB, 256 KB, 512 KB, 1 MB
Allowed characters for filenames and folders ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789!#$%&'()-.@[]^_`{}~(SPACE)


  • When trying to unmount the hard drive, FATXplorer says that the drive is being used
    • This can usually be ignored, meaning you can just unmount the drive anyways.
    • This issue seems to be caused by having any Windows Explorer window open, even if the window is not viewing a directory on the Xbox hard drive. So, you can close all instances of Windows Explorer, and FATXplorer will no longer say that the drive is in use.
  • A file does not copy to the Xbox hard drive, and an error message about file size, filename characters, filename length, etc. is presented.
    • This is caused by the FATX file system used by Xbox hard drives. The FATX file system has different limits compared to typical file systems that you may be used to. Review the FATX limitations.
    • This can be solved by changing the file attributes or destination as appropriate for the given limitation.

See also