IMG_0615As a Microsoft Preview Program member with the auto-update feature turned on, I realize that I’m taking a significant risk when it comes to updates to my system. Mainly, there could be a beta update that bricks my Xbox. For the most part, outside of those dreadful Day One days where I’m now on my 3rd Xbox One, I have had zero issues with my system. That all changed a few days ago when I grabbed my still shrink wrapped copy of Call of Duty Black Ops III and turned on my Xbox One. Instead of my dashboard I got what I’m now calling the Black Screen of Death. My error code E203 thanks to a lot of Google use, means that there was an update to my Xbox that didn’t quite work out. This means that somehow I needed to get the correct operating system version on my Xbox One stat. It could have been worse, need I remind people of the Xbox 360 3 Rings of Death days?

So as an IT guy I breathed a sigh of relief, because I’ll take a software problem over a hardware problem any day. I figured I’d just go to Xbox support, get the right OS version, and I’d be back in business. For the most part, this is exactly what happened, but it took some headache’s to get there and here’s a few tips so you won’t repeat what happened to me and get really upset:

1: READ the USB format instructions CAREFULLY: Speed reading here will get you to overlook that your USB has to be formatted NTFS. For some odd ball reason Microsoft decided to remind readers that most USB drives are formatted FAT32 and their tip was after NTFS so that’s how I got mixed up. Note to MSFT: Don’t even mention FAT32 unless it’s BEFORE you mention that the drive needs to be formatted NTFS. That’s proper process and technical writing.

2: And this is a HUGE ONE, Microsoft’s instructions say: “Copy the contents of the .zip file to your flash drive. Note The files should be copied to the root directory, and there shouldn’t be any other files on the flash drive.” Here’s the problem if you’re an IT guy like me, or someone reading this literally with a little IT experience: Normally, when instructions state that files have to be in the root directory, that means THE FILES IN THE FOLDER! Root is literally the top level of any drive. Based on these instructions I thought that after I downloaded the zip file and extracted it, that I was to then copy the contents of the folder and paste the files in the Root directory. THAT IS NOT THE CASE. What Microsoft ACTUALLY meant was that you’re supposed to either directly extract the zip to the USB or copy the extracted folder to the USB. Took me a long time to think that one through.

Other than that, the steps are pretty straight forward:

  1. Format a USB NTFS
  2. Go to Xbox Support and download a OSUDT zip file
  3. Extract folder to USB or copy extracted folder to USB
  4. In powered off Xbox One place USB in a USB port
  5. Hold down the Bind and Eject button at the same time then press Power

Note: Hold it down until you hear 2 beeps meaning it worked, or the shutdown chime, likely followed by a E101 error meaning it didn’t work.

If all goes well, the update will work and you’re back in business. However, if you’re me, you might be a little pissed because:


The OS versions provided are prior to the New Xbox Dashboard that came out 11/12/15 so the only option left for me was to download the Restore Factory Defaults zip which meant the following:

I lost all my settings and data that was on my internal hard drive!!!

So here are a few tips that I’m glad I followed months ago, making my tragic restore actually not that bad:

PUT EVERYTHING on an External hard drive!

Months ago, I bought a $49 1TB External drive and installed all my games and apps to it. This step, completely unrelated to anything other than me just wanting more space, has lessened the headache I would have had, having to reinstall all my apps and games. This one action taken months ago, means that all I have to do is redo my settings and re-add the other accounts I have on my Xbox. Thanks to a lot of data being in the cloud, the Xbox remembered the layout of my apps/games, the colors, and “supposedly” my saved games, though I haven’t tested that one yet. So everything looked exactly as I remembered.

I highly recommend getting an external. Personally, since they are so cheap these days, I’m going to get a 2TB or 3TB external next.

It would really help if Microsoft updated their page though to support the majority of Xbox users who upgraded to the New Xbox Experience.

I’m not sure if I’m going to turn off the auto update feature in the future though. Part of me says I should, but 1 error out of 100’s of updates and given that I now know how to restore in less than 15 minutes makes me want to chose the convenience of auto updating to the manual counterpart. The choice is yours.

I hope this post clears some things up for my fellow Xbox’ers!

PS @XboxSupport on Twitter is useful but would not answer my question about files in the Root directory or whether or not they could email me the correct zip for the current Operating System.

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