Whether you’re handing over your console to a friend or troubleshooting a glitch, sometimes you just need to give your Xbox One a fresh start. Fortunately, Microsoft makes this a breeze to do both for those who want to keep their games and applications installed and for those who prefer to start with a totally clean slate. This same process applies to all versions of the console, whether you have the original or hardened Xbox One X, with a slight difference that we will explain later.
Note that even if you choose to keep your games and applications installed, performing a factory reset will remove all personal files and associations from the console, including saved games, achievements, settings, and accounts. All of that is stored in the cloud if your console is synced with Xbox Live, which happens automatically when you connect to the internet, so be sure to connect before starting the reset.
When you’re ready, continue with our guide on how to factory reset an Xbox One. If for technical reasons you cannot see the screen or access the Settings menu to perform the following steps, then jump in and we’ll tell you the solution to start it up with an external USB drive. However, keep in mind that you will need access to a Windows PC to do this.
Perform a factory reset from the dash
Step 1: Log in. Press the Xbox (glowing in the center of the controller) to display the guide overlay.
Step 2: Navigate to System menu (the far right gear) and select Settings.
Step 3: Please select System, then Information console.
Stage 4: Please select Reboot console.
Step 5: At this point, you have the option to Reset and delete all or Reset and keep my games and apps (or cancel and go back if you’re not ready).
It’s important to note again that even if you keep your games and apps, all your personal data will be erased from the system, so be sure to sync with Xbox Live or export your settings manually beforehand if you don’t want to lose them. Once you have selected your preferred way to reset, the console will proceed to erase the content, which could take several minutes.
Perform a restart with the Xbox startup troubleshooter
If you can’t start your console, you can perform a factory reset using the Xbox Startup Troubleshooter. Certain original Xbox Ones are not compatible with the Xbox Startup Troubleshooter; Check out the details below, but it doesn’t hurt to check anyway.
Step 1: Turn off the console completely and disconnect the power and network cables for at least 30 seconds.
Step 2: Plug the power cord back in and follow the rest of these steps.
Step 3: Hold down the Expel Y Link buttons on your console.
The Expel The button is on the front of the original Xbox One console, right next to the disc drive, while the Link The button is on the left side, directly adjacent to the disk drive, with a symbol that looks like “)))” on it. Note that on Xbox One X and Xbox One S, both buttons are on the front of the console, with the Link button directly below the Xbox button on the right edge. The Xbox One S Digital does not have Expel button, then the Link Y Xbox buttons will do the trick.
Stage 4: Once you hold down both buttons, press the Xbox (power) button on the front of the console.
Step 5: Release the Xbox button, but keep pressing the Expel Y Link buttons for 10 to 15 seconds. Listen for two tones before releasing these buttons. The Xbox startup troubleshooter will appear shortly after.
Step 6: Please select Reset this Xbox settings and proceed with factory reset.
Performing an offline system update via USB
If you’re having issues and want to perform a factory reset to resolve them, you may not need to go that far. You can perform an offline system update via USB, which can reverse any failed updates or other issues that are preventing your Xbox One from working properly. If you have an Xbox One S, Xbox One S Digital, or Xbox One X, performing an offline system update is pretty straightforward. The original Xbox One requires a few more steps.
Offline system update with Xbox One S and Xbox One X
Step 1: Find a compatible USB flash drive. You will need a totally empty flash drive with at least 4GB of available space. It must also be formatted for NTFS, which is the default Windows file system.
Step 2: Find your USB drive in File Explorer, right-click and select Format.
Step 3: On the next screen, you can leave everything as is except File System. Change that to NTFS if it is not configured that way yet.
Stage 4: Download the update file to your computer and extract it to the USB flash drive. Below you will find the compressed update file from Microsoft. Extract the file and copy “$ SystemUpdate” to the root directory of the USB flash drive. It should be the only file there.
Step 5: Once the transfer is complete, eject and unplug the USB device and return to your console.
Step 6: Turn off your Xbox One and remove the network and power cables from the back. Wait 30 seconds once it is completely off.
Step 7: Connect the power cord and insert the flash drive into the USB port.
Step 8: Hold down the Link Y Expel on the console, then press the Xbox button. Continue holding Link Y Expel for 10-15 seconds until the Xbox startup troubleshooter loads.
Step 9: Once you do, select Offline system update. Wait while the system is updated and you are good to go. If the update fails, you may need to restart the console and try again. If you are still having problems, contact Microsoft for technical support.
Offline system update with original Xbox One
Step 1: Try starting the Xbox Startup Troubleshooter by completely shutting down the console and unplugging the power cord for at least 30 seconds.
Step 2: Then plug the cable back in and press the Pair Y Expel buttons, then the Xbox button.
Step 3: Release the Xbox and hold down the other two for 10-15 seconds. Once you hear two power-on tones, release the other two buttons. If you see the Xbox startup troubleshooter, labeled “troubleshoot” at the top, continue with the steps above. If not, continue in this section.
Stage 4: If you don’t see the Xbox Startup Troubleshooter, turn on your Xbox One and press the Xbox button on your controller.
Step 5: Please select Profile and system, followed by Settings, then, System. Then select Information console.
Step 6: Find the version of your operating system. If it is one of the versions listed below, skip the next step. If not, go to the next step.
- 6.2.11791.0 (xb_rel_1411.141114-2300) fre
- 6.2.12521.0 (xb_rel_1503.150305-1449) fre
- 6.2.12998.0 (xb_rel_1506.150601-2200) fre
- 6.2.13326.0 (xb_rel_1508.150810-2029) fre
- 6.2.13332.0 (xb_rel_1508.150903-2141) fre
- 10.0.10586.1006 (th2_xbox_rel_1510.151107-2322) fre
- 10.0.10586.1016 (th2_xbox_rel_1510.151118-2147) fre
- 10.0.10586.1024 (th2_xbox_rel_1510.151203-1909) fre
- 10.0.10586.1026 (th2_xbox_rel_1510.151217-1035) fre
- 10.0.10586.1100 (th2_xbox_rel_1602.160210-2122) fre
- 10.0.10586.1194 (th2_xbox_rel_1603.160317-1900) fre
Step 7: If you have an operating system version other than those listed above, you will need to perform two offline updates. As is the case with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, you will need a USB drive with at least 4GB of space, formatted in NTFS (see the instructions on how to do this in the previous section). If your operating system version is 6.2.9781.0, download OSU3 from Microsoft. If it’s anything else, you’ll need OSU2.
Step 8: The following steps are the same regardless of the version of your operating system. The only difference is that you will need to do them twice if you don’t have one of the OS versions listed above, once with OSU3 or OSU2, and once with OSU1. If you have one of the OS versions listed, just do these steps with OSU1.
Download the appropriate update file and extract it. Move the “$ SystemUpdate” file to the root directory of your USB drive (it should be the only thing on your USB drive).
Step 9: Turn off your console.
Step 10: Once it’s completely powered off, plug in your USB device.
Step 11: Once you’ve done that, press and hold the Expel Y Link buttons, click on the console Xbox once and then release it (but hold down the other two). Continue pressing the Expel Y Link for at least 15 seconds, and then remove your finger. Make sure to wait the full 15 seconds; If you don’t, you will have to go through the entire process again from start to finish.
You will know the process is complete when you hear two “power on” sounds.
Why it is important to hear the power-on sounds
The two noises indicate that the Xbox has correctly identified the USB input. Hearing these two tones is essential as they tell your system to automatically begin updating. The lack of those sounds or the “shutdown” sound means that a potential error has occurred or there was a failed update attempt. If this happens, it is a good idea to go ahead and restart the process completely. If you’ve tried it multiple times with no luck, we suggest that you contact Microsoft for technical support.
Perform a factory reset via USB
Another thing you can do is reset the console using Microsoft’s reset system update file. If you want to do this, all you need to do is go back to the steps mentioned above, replacing this update file with the one we introduced in the next step.
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