As many people who have done any type of original Xbox modding know, the internal hard-drive is locked using the ATA security feature. This was done by Microsoft as a first line of defense to keep modders out back in the early 2000s. It was quickly defeated, but continues to remain an annoyance to this day. To unlock a drive, the Xbox calculates the ATA password from an HMACSHA1 hash using disk information with a unique key called the HDD key. The HDD key must be obtained from the Xbox’s EEPROM in order to unlock the drive. If the Xbox dies, it becomes much more difficult to get this key.

FATXplorer 3.0 beta 31 introduces a special function to recover the ATA password from the drive without needing the associated Xbox at all. With just 1 button click, you can get the password and unlock the drive to view its contents.

Here’s how it works. The HDD Security Tools has a new Options button: Recover WD password. When you click it, you will be shown the password after a few seconds. It really is that simple!

A few things to know:

  1. This will work on any OEM Western Digital drive that shipped inside an Xbox. It can also work with newer non-Xbox Western Digital drive models, but as you get into the mid-2010s manufacture year, you may run into issues. A future FATXplorer update may improve compatibility with modern Western Digital drive models.
  2. This works over both USB and direct SATA/IDE. Important: Only USB 2.0 IDE to USB adapters are known to work. There are no known USB 3.0 adapters that recognized locked disks correctly. If Windows doesn’t detect the drive it all, you will have to try a different adapter – these is nothing FATXplorer can do to help here.
  3. Only Western Digital drive models are supported right now. Seagate models may be supported in a future FATXplorer update. Other brands are currently not a priority.
  4. For old/OEM Western Digital disks, you currently need to reconnect the drive after using the password recovery function in order to access it. FATXplorer will tell you when you need to do this. This requirement may be removed in a future FATXplorer update if a workaround can be found to reboot the disk through software means. On newer Western Digital disks, a reconnect is not required and FATXplorer will even ask if you want to unlock the drive then & there.
  5. For the most part, Recover WD password should “just work”, but there may be cases where you will need to change the device type in the Options menu. Make sure you try that if the first attempt fails. If it fails, check the log for which command failed.

Initial testing of this function has yielded positive results for many people and this will hopefully make the OG Xbox data preservation effort easier!

Big thanks to the members of the Xbox Data Preservation Discord for helping test and providing valuable information that aided in the development of this function. ❤️