The original Xbox hard disk drive was 8 GB in size. Later releases, 10 GB drives; however, only the first 8 GB of the drive was used. See Hardware Revisions for more information.
The Xbox hard disk contains multiple partitions. Unlike a PC, which typically contains either a Master Boot Record or GUID Partition Table to specify the partition information, the Xbox kernel uses a fixed partition layout. The file system used on the Xbox is FATX, a variant of FAT16/32 developed by Microsoft specifically for the Xbox. [FIXME]
|Drive Letter||Description||Offset (bytes)||Size (bytes)||Filesystem|
|N/A||Config Area||0x00000000||0x00080000||Fixed Structure|
- Add info on how extended partitions are added.
The hard drives in the Xbox are locked with a key which is unique to the specific Xbox. The drive is unlocked by the kernel at boot.
Unlocking for Backups
Before connecting an Xbox HDD to a PC for a backup or modification, the drive must first be unlocked. This can be done with alternative dashboards (such as EvoX). But beware, once you unlock the disk you cannot use it with an official BIOS until you re-lock the disk! For this reason it is suggested to use a patched BIOS which does not require the disk to be locked. If you are unable to run unsigned code (needed to unlock the HDD before powering off), it is possible to hot-swap the drive after the Xbox has started. This is not a suggested method, but it has been known to work. The idea is that you start the Xbox and wait for the dashboard, at which point the drive will be unlocked. Then, while the Xbox is running, you disconnect the IDE cable (but not the power!), and then connect the drive to your PC. Then the drive can be mounted for read/write (using XboxHDM), or imaged directly.
- Provide more info on locking/unlocking procedure.
- Provide details about the key and how it can be derived from the EEPROM data.
How To: Backup an HDD
There are two general methods to back up your HDD: copying the files, or creating a byte-for-byte image of the drive.
Method 1: File Copy
This is an acceptable backup method, but it is not as accurate an exact copy. This method requires less work to create the backup, but more work to re-create a usable disk image. The dashboard files (found in C:) are the most essential part of a backup, and a complete disk image can be re-created (with some effort) with a copy of the dashboard files using a tool such as XboxHDM.
Simply run an XBE on your Xbox that provides an FTP server. This is a standard feature for alternative dashboards (such as EvoX). Then connect to your Xbox from another system and copy all files in C: and E:.
Unlock the HDD, connect it to your PC, mount the drive (see FATX), copy the files.
Method 2: Exact Copy
This is the most accurate method to backup your hard disk. This method requires more work to create the backup, but does not require any effort to create a usable disk image like the first method. There are multiple ways to implement this method, one is provided here.
Unlock the HDD, connect it to your PC using a USB-IDE adapter (available for ~$20USD). In GNU/Linux and other *NIX variants, DD can be used to perform the block copy. For example:
sudo dd if=/dev/sdb of=xbox_hdd.raw bs=512. append
status=progress to see the progress during copying if you run a recent distro, like so:
sudo dd if=/dev/sdb of=xbox_hdd.raw bs=512 status=progress.If you're dumping an original Xbox HDD (capacity 8G or 10G), this will finish pretty quickly. The files can be extracted by mounting the filesystems in the image (see FATX).