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How To: Update Your Xbox One via USB

I received my Xbox One today. I got it home, plugged it in, and routed all the cables nicely. I started going through the system update process and it got all the way to 80% before I was confronted by a terrible, truly evil image. “There was a problem with the update" (They didn’t even use punctuation.) Much to my dismay I was one of several individuals with a non-working launch day Xbox One. After some lengthy chat conversations with Xbox Support I was informed that I would need to send off for a replacement.

Having to wait at least until Monday, I decided to try the offline update feature they had up on their support page briefly earlier this week. Luckily I downloaded the update files prior to the page being pulled. Then it just took a few seconds on Google to find a copy of the instructions. If you’re like me and would like to give this a shot while you wait for a replacement, you can find the files and instructions below.

First off, you need to figure out what your firmware version is. To do this, get to the point where you need to start the update and then press and hold all 4 shoulder buttons. You should see a screen with some information. You want to find the Build information. Mine said, “Build: 9781.0.amd64fre.xb_rel_flash1307.130829-1800.”

Now, according to the original instructions there were 2 different files and you needed to get the one for your build. But their instructions weren’t written well and thus confusing. To me, these seem like recovery files not update files; that’s why they’re 1.24 GB versus the 507 MB update. When I did the update process with the one they recommended, it said there was a problem afterwards. So I tried the second file only to receive the same error. Basically, after the update I was still getting a prompt to update my firmware but it kept stalling out. This was because the network cable was unplugged. So I plugged it back in, power cycled the unit, and then when it got to the update screen it said no update was required and let me finish the setup process. I have no idea which one you should use, but here are both for you to download.

This is the one they recommend you download if your build was the same as mine:

This is the one that I think you should use regardless, but who knows:
6.2.10210.0(xb_rel_launch 131118-1159).zip

Once you download the files, you need to use a 2 GB or bigger USB drive. Format it using NTFS and then follow the steps below.

  1. Extract the contents of the .zip file you downloaded onto the root directory of your USB drive (root means the top level). When done, you should see the folder $SystemUpdate on your USB drive.
  2. Unplug the power cord and the network cable from your Xbox One.
  3. Plug the USB drive into your Xbox One. I used the port on the left side.
  4. Plug the power cable back in. DO NOT plug the network cable in at this time.
  5. Press and hold the sync button (just to the left of the disc tray on the left side) and the eject button.
  6. With those buttons held down, press the power button. Tip: I used my left thumb to hold the sync button, my right thumb to hold the eject button, and my pinky to press the Xbox power button. Note: Don’t hold the power button, just press it once.
  7. Keep holding the sync and eject buttons down. After the Xbox One turns on, you should here 2 beeps after about 10-15 seconds. There will be a short pause in between said beeps. When you hear this, you can let go of the sync and eject buttons. Note: If you don’t hear the 2 beeps, then you did something wrong. Go back and double check all the steps above.
  8. Let the console do its thing and update from the USB drive. Afterwards it will restart and proceed with the first time setup.
  9. You should eventually get to a point where it wants to update again. This is just checking to see if there is an update. If your console acts like mine, you’ll have to plug the network cable back in, and power cycle the unit again before you can proceed. To power cycle, unplug the power cord and wait 30 seconds, then plug it back in.
  10. If it gets to the update screen and it says you don’t need to update or you already updated, then you’re good to go.

With any luck, those steps above got you past the update issues you were having. I don’t know if this will work for those who can’t even start the update process, but I’m hoping it will help anybody who keeps getting the error part way through their update.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play Dead Rising 3.

Feel free to follow me on Xbox Live, my gamertag is: Eternal Elir

DISCLAIMER: I take no responsibility for what happens to your console if you try this. It worked for me, but I cannot guarantee it will work for you. These are the legitimate files from Xbox’s support page that was pulled earlier this week — no modification was done to them. The instructions have been reworded to be more user friendly and understandable. Again, use this at your own risk.

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