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Microsoft Plans Xbox Storage Upgrade

The move will enable third-party USB Flash drives to be used for the storage of data on the Xbox 360 video gaming console.

The video gaming console voted "most unreliable" by an independent warranty provider last year is getting an upgrade.

Microsoft plans to release in April an Xbox 360 firmware update that will enable the gaming console to use third-party USB flash drives to store profiles, game saves, demos and other information.

Currently, Xbox 360 only supports Microsoft's own memory cards and hard drives for external storage. The update, set for release over Xbox Live April 6, will make it possible to use Flash drives of up to 16 GB capacity, according to Larry Hryb, Xbox Live director of programming. Devices with less than 1 GB of storage will not be supported.

While external hard disk drives may also be used following the update, Hryb recommended the use of Flash drives.

"Since performance on Flash-based USB storage is usually better, I highly recommend using flash-based instead of spinning media like a hard drive," Hryb said Fridayin his official blog. "It's just going to give you a much better experience."

Gamers using devices with more than 16 GB of storage can allocate the remaining space for storing data from a PC or Mac. Also, a maximum of two storage devices can be connected at a time, enabling up to 32 GB of simultaneous storage.

The Xbox 360 will not configure USB devices automatically. User will need to head to the memory area in system settings, and select among options to configure the full device or to set a specific amount of memory for configuration for the console.

Microsoft also announced that it's partnering with SanDisk on an Xbox 360-branded USB flash drive that is scheduled to be released in May. The drive will come pre-configured for the console.

The Xbox 360 was the top-selling console in February, topping the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 for the first time since 2007, according to The NPD Group.

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