Xbox 360: To Hard Drive or Not?

To Hard Drive or Not?


At a Glance
  • Save game progress.
  • Play original Xbox® games.
  • Download exclusive content.
  • Store music and audio files.

Are you a hardcore or casual gamer, or something in between? Regardless of how often you use your Xbox 360™ for playing games, watching movies, or listening to music, it's easy to tell that you've got the most sophisticated and expandable entertainment device on the planet right in your living room.

It's also easy to personalize your digital entertainment experience with Xbox 360, and the Xbox 360 Hard Drive allows you to do exactly that. We know you've got some questions, so here are the hard facts on the hard drive.

The removable hard drive fits compactly into the console.

The removable hard drive fits compactly into the console.

What is the Xbox 360 Hard Drive?
The Xbox 360 Hard Drive is a 20 gigabyte (GB) detachable storage device that lets you retain massive amounts of Xbox 360 content including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Game saves
  • Music and audio files
  • Your Xbox 360 gamer card and gamer profile
  • Xbox Live® downloadable content

While most games do not require the use of the hard drive to work, many harness its streaming capabilities and data-caching features to improve performance. In other words, your games play smoother, often with shorter load times.

The Xbox 360 Hard Drive enables you to do many
things with the system that are otherwise off limits.

So if I don't need the hard drive, why should I buy it?
Even though most games do not require the Xbox 360 Hard Drive, it saves you money in the long run. For one, you need something to save your game progress. Right now, there are two options: the Xbox 360 Memory Unit (a portable 64MB flash memory card) and the Xbox 360 Hard Drive (20GB of storage).

Without one of these devices, you'll lose your game progress every time you turn off your console, you can't tailor or customize your Xbox 360 experience, and you won't be able to download and store content from Xbox Live.

In other words, you need a storage device—either the memory unit, the hard drive, or a combination of both (this is the most versatile and best setup)—to unlock the potential of Xbox 360. Considering that the Xbox 360 Hard Drive has 320 times the storage of the memory unit, it's plainly obvious that the hard drive is the better long-term storage solution.

How does it change my gaming experience?
Aside from storing the content listed above, the hard drive enables you to do tons of cool things. For one, you can play an array of top-selling Xbox games like Halo® 2 on your Xbox 360, but you'll need the hard drive to do it.

Take your gaming and entertainment to the next level.

The original Xbox uses a hard drive, and many of the games designed for it use the hard drive to decrease load times, stream and cache game data, and store detailed game saves. Xbox 360 also uses more advanced hardware than Xbox, and requires the use of special software (included on the hard drive) to play Xbox games.

What can I look forward to on Xbox Live?

You'll have access to extra game content available through Xbox Live Marketplace: new levels, extra maps, special weapons, and whatever the developers come up with. To get the most from your games, you'll want to get the bonus features only available online.

The hard drive also lets you store many more themes, gamer pictures, gamer profiles, and so on—all the things that let you personalize your online identity.

How about multimedia?

Just rip some of your favorite CDs to the hard drive. Now that you've got access to your music in-game, create custom music playlists for any of your titles. You can also use Xbox 360 as a jukebox at parties, or while you're exercising or just lounging around the house.

I can't afford the hard drive right now. What are my options?
Again, the hard drive is not required to use Xbox 360, but it does enable you to do many things with the system that are otherwise off limits. The good news is, you don't have to buy the hard drive to play most Xbox 360 games, and you can use the Xbox 360 Memory Unit for game saves.

Xbox 360 is all about personalization, so you can purchase the hard drive anytime you're ready to take your gaming and entertainment to the next level.

Article by Jim W. Gettys