What you should consider before selling a video game system

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 11, 2006
Updated • Feb 26, 2014
Data recovery, Security

Thunder7 recently told me that he bought an used Xbox gaming system and discovered that the hard drive was full of music files from the previous owner. The original Xbox uses an internal 10 gigabyte hard drive to store save games, patches, music and images. The new Xbox 360 and Sony's PS3 will also utilize a hard drive and the following tip is also valid for them.

If you do not delete the personal files on the hard drive before you sell the system the new owner will be able to watch, hear and view them just like you did. What Microsoft did not tell you is that it is possible to recover the files even though they have been deleted by connecting the hard drive of the Xbox to a computer system. File Recovery tools work on Xbox hard drives just as well as they work on your PC.

Besides files, it may also be possible to recover account information.

The new owner of your system could run data recovery software by connecting the hard drive of the Xbox to a computer.This way it may be possible to recover files that you have deleted prior to selling your old system to the new owner. The same holds true of course for every other sort of storage device that you are going to sell. It is possible to recover files even though you deleted them.Basically, as long as it has permanent storage, it may be possible to recover files from it even if you delete the files prior to giving the system away or selling it.

The only secure way that I know that would delete the files safely would be to connect the hard drive to your PC and use a tool like eraser to erase the personal files on it.

You need to unlock the hard drive of the Xbox before you can access the Xbox hard drive in windows.

It is also a good idea to remove account data from the system before you are selling it, this can be done using the Xbox configuration screens so that you do not have to use third party tools for that.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. bennyboo said on October 16, 2006 at 11:03 am

    yeah, the 360 has the otional 20GB hd.

    @thunder7 – the method I’ve used for both of my xboxes is called ‘softmodding’ – can read all about it on xbox-scene. Can take a while for the 1st time but it is well worth it. I have a 160GB hd in one of my xboxes and have xbox media centre installed on both of them.. – can stream music, video etc.. from my main PC.. – works great..

  2. thunder7 said on October 12, 2006 at 10:26 am

    Anyone knows other methods, please let know I have been buying games just if I could afford a Xbox I would be able to play them.

    Finally that day is here YEAH!.

    I thought the old PS2’s & Xbox’s had bigger HDD’s?.
    And if that is the standerd size why? Did M$ again not think ahead?

  3. Martin said on October 11, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    thunder you need a modchip, at least that is what I needed when I replaced the hd. Maybe there are other methods by know..

  4. thunder7 said on October 11, 2006 at 10:32 pm

    I would like to add a nice 500GB hdd to my Xbox just to store my games on.
    So if I use “Hdunlock” I could in fact do this huh?

  5. waldwicht said on October 11, 2006 at 6:36 pm

    Thank you for this article. I have a modded xbox with a 80 GB harddrive disc in it. Lots of games and roms are on it. I recently thouoght of selling the whole system but didn’t knew how do delete all the games and so on.

  6. Martin said on October 11, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    Use the Hdunlock tool to unlock the hard drive.


  7. Martin said on October 11, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    It was a long time ago that I removed the orginal hard drive of my xbox and replace it with a bigger one. Wonder where I came up with the 20 GB, is that the value from the new xbox 360 by chance ?

    I’am also not sure at the moment if it is possible to simply connect the hd to the pc..

  8. thunder7 said on October 11, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    do not forget “Boot and Nuke” http://dban.sourceforge.net/

  9. bennyboo said on October 11, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    Xbox’s contain 8 gigabyte hard disks (newer consoles contain a 10GB physical hard drive, though it is formatted to only use 8GB.

    anyway.. – I wouldn’t say that music files are ‘personal’ information – sure with old xboxes you might want to make sure you get rid of any xbox live account details but otherwise there isn’t going to be a great deal of personal data on them.. – obviously completely different story for PC’s though..

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