FATXplorer 3.0 beta 21 – new OG Xbox HDD lock/unlock tool + other enhancements
A top ask from the original Xbox community has been to add locking and unlocking support to FATXplorer. Initially this was not thought to be possible on modern Windows OS versions due to security restrictions added by Microsoft. After investigating, workarounds were found to allow restricted commands to be sent over both SATA and USB. It took additional time to improve compatibility with certain USB adapters, but the end result is a highly compatibility lock/unlock tool with an easy to use GUI that works on modern Windows versions.
You can connect a locked OG Xbox HDD to your PC over SATA or USB. FATXplorer will now detect locked HDDs. When you click on it, it will bring up a window asking you to unlock it. You can do this by entering your HDD key in the textbox, or by loading the HDD key from your EEPROM. Once unlocked successfully, FATXplorer will remember your HDD key and automatically unlock the HDD in the future, so you will only need to do this once.
FATXplorer can also remove the password from the HDD, which basically unlocks the HDD permanently until a new password is set. The HDD must be unlocked before removing the password is possible.
Setting a password on a HDD is easy. Like unlocking, you can enter your HDD key in the textbox, load it from your EEPROM. The HDD must be unlocked before setting a new password is possible.
A master password is basically a secondary password that can be used to unlock the HDD. When setting a password, FATXplorer can optionally set its own so it will always be able to unlock the HDD in the future. Unfortunately, the OEM HDDs shipped in every Xbox cannot be unlocked using a master password – Microsoft intentionally disabled it. It is possible to re-enable master password unlocking by removing the user password and setting it again using FATXplorer. To have any hope of accessing data on OEM HDDs, you must have the HDD key.
FATXplorer provides many commonly known default master passwords. Here’s a few that are currently known to work:
- XBOXSCENE, TEAMASSEMBLY: These are set by other Xbox locking tools. If you’ve set the HDD password using another Xbox locking tool, you may be able to use one of these to unlock the HDD.
- SeaGate…………………….: Confirmed to work on Seagate retail HDDs, but not Xbox OEM.
- WDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCW: Confirmed to work on Western Digital HDDs.
- Null/All Zeros: Confirmed to work on Xbox OEM Seagate HDDs (if master password is not disabled).
The full built-in list:
Compatible Hardware / Recommendations
This is by no means comprehensive and you should try any hardware you have on-hand before buying anything new. This is just what was used during development and has been confirmed to work.
Direct SATA/IDE Connection
SATA/IDE is generally the most compatible and reliable method. If your BIOS supports hotplugging you can connect it while your PC is on. Otherwise, fully power down your PC and then connect it.
USB is hit or miss depending on the adapter or docking station used. The USB bridge chip must support ATA pass-though commands, and not consider a locked device defective.
For IDE HDDs, the situation is different. It appears USB 3.0 IDE adapters will not recognize locked HDDs. There is currently one USB 2.0 adapter that is confirmed to support unlocking over USB: this Warmstor adapter. It uses the JM20337/8 chip. The one caveat is that despite being able to unlock HDDs, it will not be able to read/write data after unlocking. The workaround is to unlock, remove the password, and then reconnect it to your PC. Alternatively, you could reconnect the HDD using a USB 3.0 IDE adapter for faster speeds. An IDE drive without a password set should work with any USB 3.0 adapter.
Any modern SATA HDD that that is purchased today should be lockable. You are more likely to run into a USB compatibility issue than a HDD that doesn’t support locking. For a confirmed compatibility list, look here. FATXplorer will show a clear message if it detects a HDD that cannot be locked.
Locked Device Observations
- There can be big delays with FATXplorer’s device detection when a locked device is connected. This is Windows’ fault and not FATXplorer’s. Unlocking will instantly resolve all slowdowns. If you are using a USB connection and device detection never finishes, you should try a different USB.
- Sometimes, when connecting a HDD via direct SATA/IDE connection, it will show up as frozen. Frozen means setting a password/locking won’t be possible. To fix this, power-cycle the device by reconnecting it, or put your computer to sleep and wake it back up.
Other changes in beta 21
As always, there are a host of other changes. Highlights are below and you can see the full release notes here.
- Added a new time remaining estimate to the formatting tools progress bar, primarily to help with bigger preloads and clean formats.
- Added new “Current Xbox Format” label to devices in the formatting tools. This will tell you if the device is already formatted for Xbox or Xbox 360.
- At the request of team Cerbios, the default partition configuration when formatting disks for Cerbios has been updated. Instead of configuring 927.78 GB of space for partitions F, G and 8-14, space will now be split evenly between F and G. It is still possible to configure all partitions manually.
- When selecting a preload zip or folder, all files will now be checked at that point instead of during the format process. This way you will have the opportunity to remove any problematic files, instead of having to restart the entire formatting process.
Extra Memory Feature Removed
In previous versions, when loading devices there was a “Use Extra Memory” toggle. This basically keeps folder clusters in memory to speed up file creation and updates. However, on partitions with large clusters, or with lots of folders, memory usage could reach very high levels. A better solution has been implemented that brings the best of both worlds: basically no additional memory usage, and the same performance as before. The toggle is now removed since it is now unnecessary.