How to Reset Your Xbox 360

Restoring to factory settings could resolve issues with your console

A teenager resetting his Xbox 360.

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There are a few good reasons to reset an Xbox 360 to factory settings. Resetting an Xbox 360 can take care of some strange problems that may crop up after years of use, and it's also a good idea to wipe all of your data before you trade your old console in or give it away.

Resetting an Xbox 360 is a fairly easy process, but it's a serious step that can't be undone. When you reset your console, you lose any games, save data, themes, and avatars you haven't backed up. In many cases, clearing the cache on your Xbox 360 may be the better option.

Try Clearing Your Xbox 360 Cache

You can fix a lot of common problems with your Xbox 360 by simply clearing the cache. This removes temporary files and data stored in the system cache during normal use. Since clearing your cache is fast and easy, and corrupted temporary files can cause a whole lot of issues, it's a good idea to try this before you attempt a full factory reset.

  1. Press the Guide button to open the Xbox Guide.

  2. Navigate to the Settings tab.

  3. Select System Settings.

  4. With the System Settings menu open, select Storage.

  5. Select Hard Drive.

  6. Press the Y button to open the Device Options.

  7. Select Clear System Cache.

  8. Select Yes to confirm the operation, then wait for the process to finish.

  9. Restart your Xbox 360, and see if your problems persist.

If you still experience problems after resetting the system cache, or you want to prepare your system for sale or to give it away, it's time to factory reset the Xbox 360. Before that, though, you'll need to back up your data and format the hard drive.

Preparing to Factory Reset Xbox 360

Resetting an Xbox 360 to factory settings isn't difficult, but it's a serious process that can't be undone. To reset your Xbox 360, you'll first need to back up your games, profile, themes, and other data to an external drive, then format the Xbox 360's hard drive.

If you are getting rid of your Xbox 360, you can also just remove the hard drive before you sell or give away the console. The new owner will need to install their own hard drive or use a memory card.

Locate Your Xbox 360 Serial Number Before Resetting

Before you reset your Xbox 360, locate the serial number of your console and write it down. When you attempt to format the hard drive, you're usually unable to proceed without this number.

You can find the serial number of your Xbox 360 on the back of the console, but if the number has been scratched off or obscured, you can also find it in the system settings menu:

  1. Press the Guide button to open the Xbox Guide.

  2. Navigate to the Settings tab.

  3. Select System Settings.

  4. With the System Settings menu open, select Console Settings.

  5. Scroll down to select System Info.

  6. The System Info screen has a lot of information about your Xbox 360 console, but what you need is the Console Serial Number.

  7. Locate the Console Serial Number, write it down, then press the B button on your controller until you've returned to the main System Settings menu.

Back Up Your Games and Data Before Resetting

When you reset your Xbox 360, all of the information that's stored on the hard drive will be removed. This includes all of the games you've downloaded, save data, your profile, and everything else stored on the hard drive. If you want to preserve any of this data, you need to back it up.

Your profile will be deleted from the Xbox 360, but this will not delete your Xbox Live account or cancel your Xbox Live subscription. You will still be able to log back in on this console or any other console in the future.

When you back up data on an Xbox 360, you can choose to transfer everything at once, or one item at a time. To move everything at once:

  1. Connect a USB hard drive or thumb drive to your Xbox 360.

  2. From the System Settings menu, select Storage.

  3. Select Hard Drive.

  4. Press the Y button to bring up the Device Options.

  5. Select Transfer Content.

  6. Select your USB Storage Device.

  7. Select Start.

You will be unable to transfer the data if your external hard drive doesn't have enough storage space.

If you prefer to manually select items you want to back up, you can do that as well.

  1. Connect a USB hard drive or thumb drive to your Xbox 360.

  2. From the System Settings menu, select Storage.

  3. Select Hard Drive.

  4. Select Games and Apps.

  5. Select a game you want to back up.

  6. Press the A button, then Press the A button again.

  7. Select Move.

  8. Press the A button to delete the original copy and move it to your external media.

    You can also select Copy to leave a copy on your hard drive. Choose this if you won't be completing the reset immediately and you want to play your games in the meantime.

  9. Select your USB Storage Device.

  10. Press the A button.

  11. Wait for the Xbox 360 to finish backing up your data.

  12. Press the B button.

  13. Select another item, and repeat this process as many times as necessary.

  14. When you're done, press the B button until you return to the System Settings menu.

How to Reset Xbox 360

Once you have written down your Console Serial Number and backed up all of your files, you're ready to reset your Xbox 360. This involves formatting the hard drive, which can't be undone. When you finish, your Xbox 360 will be returned to its original factory state.

  1. From the System Settings menu, select Storage.

  2. Select Hard Drive.

  3. Press the Y button to open the Device Options.

  4. Select Format.

  5. Select Yes to confirm your choice.

  6. Enter your Console Serial Number

  7. Select Done, then wait for the formatting process to complete.

Once you've finished resetting your Xbox 360, turn it on to confirm your data is gone. If the process was successful, you'll be prompted to set up your Xbox 360 just like you did when it was brand new. The console is now ready for you to sell or give away, or you can log back in with your Xbox Live account if you performed the reset to fix a persistent problem.