Xbox 360 USB Storage Update Now Available

The Xbox 360 system update enabling gamers to use generic USB devices to store save games and other data in sizes up to 16 GB is now live. Gamers who sign onto Xbox LIVE will be able to download the update, which will allow gamers to use those USB ports at the bottom of the Xbox 360 to actually store data.

According to Microsoft, any USB device can be used as long as it is greater than 1 GB in storage size. The only restriction on the USB storage solution is that gamers can only hold a maximum of 16 GB of data on the keys. Even if a gamer has a 50 GB USB key, the extra space won’t be used. However, gamers CAN use two different USB keys to provide up to 32 GB of storage space at one time. It’s not a huge amount of space, but it’s enough to stick several games on, and certainly enough for all the save games in the world. And, technically, if you had, say, fifteen USB keys lying around you could store 250 GB of data on all those keys.

The update, according to Joystiq, takes roughly five minutes to download with a standard cable connection. The update will also be available to gamers who aren’t connected to Xbox LIVE via the Microsoft-branded Xbox 360 USB keys that will debut in May. Those keys, advertised on GameStop’s website, will cost more than standard USB keys, but at least they’ll match the color scheme of the Xbox 360 and will come with the update.

The update is much-needed for the Xbox 360. The console’s main competitor, the PlayStation 3, allows gamers to use any hard-drive to store data on their console. In essence, gamers can insert a HUGE hard drive into the PlayStation 3 while Microsoft’s Xbox 360 limits hard-drives to Microsoft-branded, Xbox 360-specific hard-drives that cost exorbitant amounts of money. This at least offers gamers the opportunity to use USB keys that may be lying around their house, though it’s less than optimal compared to the PlayStation 3’s situation.