There was a time when setting up a new console just meant plugging it into the wall and television. Your games lived entirely on discs or cartridges and if you had external save data it was on a memory card that you would just plug into the console. Physical media is going the way of the dodo, however, and modern consoles hold a host of data and preferences — let alone all your games — in their capacious, internal hard drives. All that good stuff stored on your console makes it harder to change devices, however, and the new intra-generation hardware upgrades like the Xbox One S and X might be making that a more frequent occurrence.
Fortunately, Microsoft anticipated that, and made it very easy to transfer all of your important data from one console to another. Ostensibly, this guide is for transferring data from an Xbox One to a shiny new One X, but you can use these steps to make the move from any model of the Xbox One to any other.
How to transfer with an external hard drive
Step 1: Connect and format your storage device
Since an Xbox One is practically a Windows PC under the hood, it’s no surprise that they play well with external storage devices. For our purposes, you will need a hard drive that stores at least 256 GB and connects via USB 3.0. Before we begin, note that formatting your drive for storage will delete everything currently stored on it, so make sure to back it up ahead of time.
When you plug the drive in, a pop-up will ask whether you want to use it to store media or as a general storage device. Select “Format storage device” and press “A” to prepare the drive for backing up your games and data. You will be prompted to name the drive, and then asked whether you would like to use it as the default storage destination for new games and data. Since we’re using it to transfer, you can just leave it as is. When the drive is formatted, you will see a notification.
Step 2: Back up your games
With your drive formatted, plugged in, and ready to go, press the Xbox button, go all the way to the right and select “Settings,” “System,” and then “Storage.” Highlight your internal storage on the right and select “Transfer.” This will bring up a menu with all of your games. Make sure the Target Device is the external drive you just named, then select the games or apps you want to transfer (or “Select all” on the left if you’re not picky). Press “Copy Selected” if you want to leave everything installed on the original Xbox One, or “Move selected” if you’re cleaning house.
One thing you should know: If you’re moving a lot of games, especially large, AAA titles, this process could take a long time.
Because this process is identical to just using your drive as a permanent expansion, save data transfers as well, but they are also automatically backed up on the cloud when you are connected to Xbox Live, whether you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription or not.
Step 3: Back up your settings
With your games and apps squared away, it’s time to transfer your general settings, including your profiles, preferences, themes, etc.
Navigate back to System Settings and select “Backup & transfer,” then “Back up my settings,” and finally “Back up to device.”
Step 4: Set up your new console
That is everything you need from your old console. Before you turn on your new console and begin the initial setup process, plug your external drive into a USB port. The console should recognize it and prompt you to copy over your preferences, saving a lot of time in the process. Select “Apply settings” and follow the setup instructions.
Step 5: Install your games
Bringing your games from the external drive onto the internal drive of your new console is literally the exact same process as Step 2, except selecting the external drive in the Storage menu and setting the internal drive as your target.
Press the Xbox button, go all the way to the right and select “Settings,” “System,” and then “Storage.” This time, highlight your hard drive’s storage, and select “Transfer.” Press “Select all” to transfer your games, and make sure your target device reads “Internal.” Press “Move selected” to transfer all your games to the new Xbox and delete them from the hard drive. To leave the games stored on the hard drive, press “Copy Selected.”
Step 6: (Optional) Wipe your old Xbox clean
If you’re selling your old console or giving it to a friend, you probably want to delete everything so the new owner gets an out-of-the-box experience when they boot up for the first time. Check out our guide on how to factory reset an Xbox One for a step-by-step walkthrough of that process.
How to transfer over a local network
If you have both your old and new console at the same time and can connect them both to your local network, then you can transfer games and apps without using an external device at all.
Step 1: Set up your new console
Because this process requires having both consoles up and running, you will have to go through the initial set up process on your new Xbox One, rather than transferring over your settings. Turn on your Xbox One and follow the instructions. Make sure to connect the Xbox One to your local network.
Step 2: Enable network transfer
Once your new Xbox One is ready, press the Xbox button, navigate to the “Settings” menu. Within “Settings,” select “Network,” then “Network transfer.” Check “Allow network transfer.” both consoles need to be prepped for the transfer, go back to your old Xbox One and follow the same steps.
Once both consoles have been set, it’s time to transfer. Using the new console — the one you want to receive the data — select the old console from the network transfer menu. You will see the same transfer interface shown above, allowing you to send some or all of the apps and games stored on the old console to the new one.
Note: We recommend using a wired connection on both devices if at all possible. Taking Wi-Fi out of the equation will make the process go substantially faster.