EDIT: Since much of this information has become outdated, this Guide has been moved to the tutorial archives. We would like to thank Gen3SF for the wonderful guide and all the time she put into it!
The current recommended format for an external HDD is FAT32. Check out Pob3008's Guide--->Guide - FAT32
Loading, Ripping, and Playing Wii Game Backups [/SIZE]
from an External USB Hard Disk Drive
(WBFS and FAT32 partitions; softmod only)
Using an external USB hard disk drive improves the load and play speed of the game. Original Wii game discs spin at 6X; backup discs, in a softmodded Wii, spin at 3X. The USB HDD exceeds the speed of the original game disc and can eliminate problems with stuttering or choppy audio and or video from backup game discs.
The external USB HDD used by the Wii will be referred to in this tutorial as the Wii HDD to avoid confusion with the HDD used by the PC. The Wii HDD can be formatted and partitioned in a number of ways depending on the intended use. Following this tutorial will lead to to creation of two partitions on the Wii HDD: a WBFS-formatted partition from which backups of the Wii game discs will be loaded and played, and a FAT32-formatted partition from which most homebrew applications may be run. One may also load and play WiiWare and Virtual Console games from the FAT32-formatted partition.
For those wanting to use a Wii HDD formatted only as either FAT32 or NTFS, please look in the Optional Section at the end of this guide.
Before partitioning your drive, think about both the partitions and the partition size you may need. Installing a Wii game onto the WBFS-formatted partition removes the extraneous data bits and the update partition from the standard 4.37GB DVD disc image. Use an estimate of 2.5GB per Wii game to anticipate your partition size needs. As the PC does not recognize a WBFS-formatted drive, it is a good idea to have at least one partition in a format that allows your PC to access the Wii HDD; however, there is no harm in formatting the Wii HDD entirely as WBFS . Homebrew apps and USB Loader files can be stored on the FAT32 partition of the HDD replacing the SD card. Only the NTFS format will allow the PC to manage files >4GB such as movies. Those using a small (4-8 GB) USB Flash Drive may decide, due to limited space, to format the entire USB Flash Drive as a WBFS drive.
Factors to consider when deciding whether to play Wii games from WBFS or FAT32:
WBFS or Wii Backup File System, is the native file format of the Wii, and is stable and well-established. Reasons why one might chose to forgo WBFS and format the Wii HDD entirely as FAT32 include the ability to use the disk for other PC files and programs, game files can be managed and copied using familiar PC file tools and managers, file and system recovery options are improved as PC utilities will recognize and work in the usual manner. As installing and playing Wii games from a non-WBFS-formatted drive or partition is a relatively recent development, cIOS249 does not support this and one must use cIOS222/223; USB Loaders for FAT32 or NTFS use can be limited.
This guide is for USB HDD use in a softmodded Wii; a hard- or chip-modded Wii would either softmod or use the WODE or the D2Sun products SunHD or SunDriver.
1. Before setting up an external USB HDD or device, the Wii should be successfully softmodded. For a 3.1-4.1 Wii follow Dogeggs's tutorial HERE ; 4.2 Wii follow ShadowSonic2's guide HERE; or mauifrog's guide to softmod any Wii HERE.
2. If, after successful completion of the softmod, you did not download and install USB Loader GX or WBFS Manager 3.1; download USB Loader GX (2.0 r1037) from HERE or WBFS Manager from HERE.
2A. USB Loader GX - Quick install information; after using WinRar, 7-Zip, or RarZilla to extract the USBLoaderGX rar file, there will be a number of folders that are to be copied to the SD card:
1) Apps folder-if the Wii has already been softmodded, ignore cIOS installers, copy the USBLoaderGX folder to the Apps folder on your SD card. This is the homebrew app version of USB Loader GX and will run from the HBC menu.
2) Wad folder-in the wad folder will be two files; to run USB Loader GX as a channel, copy the file usually named USB Loader GX rXXX-ULNR.wad to the wad folder on your SD card. Install this wad using Wad Manager. The other wad file usually named USB Loader GX..._Forwarder.wad is used if you want to run USB Loader GX from a forwarder.
A forwarder is installed as a channel and will show in your Wii channel page, but actually links to the boot.dol file saved on the SD card or HDD. A channel install allows for play without either an SD card or another partition needed on the Wii HDD, but uses about 2MB more Wii memory than does the forwarder. The forwarder also allows for updating by replacing the boot.dol file without having to wait for a wad version to be created.
3) Copy the folders named codes, config, images, and txtcodes unchanged to the Root directory of your SD card. Note that the images folders are where you will store game cover art.
2B. If you need a 64-bit version of WBFS Manager, download from HERE; if you need WBFS Manager for the Mac, download from HERE. In the "For PC" folder is WBFS Manager to be setup and installed on your PC. WBFS Manager requires NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (the installer will prompt you to automatically download and install it if you don't already have it.)
3. Type of USB HDD
a. If you do not yet have an external USB HDD- get a Western Digital USB HDD (320GB or 500GB Passport, 500GB or 1TB My Book, or 1TB Digital Elements) .
b. You already have an external USB HDD- check the compatibility of your HDD HERE or check the WiiHacks list HERE.
Partitioning the HDD
A. Used HDD: a used HDD may have bad or damaged sectors; before proceeding, run the PC Chkdsk /r command. Now that any bad sectors have been marked or fixed, proceed to Step 1.
B. New HDD: Your HDD will come preformatted for "plug and play" compatibility with a PC:
1. Plug your Wii HDD into a PC USB port
2a. From the WinXP: Right click on My Computer> Go to Manage>Click on Disk Management
2b. From Vista/Win7: Go to Control Panel> Administrative Tools>Computer Manager>Disk
3. With your disk drive loaded and visible: right click on the Wii HDD and choose to delete either the entire volume or a partition
4. Right click on new HDD in lower part or graphical portion of window and click New
5a. Choose to assign a letter to your new drive partition
5b. Choose NOT TO FORMAT when you create your new partition. Chose the size of the partition; make sure and leave space for the FAT32 partition, and also if you want to create an NTFS partition for files >4GB. Use 2.5GB per Wii game to estimate current and future needs. WBFS Manager has a 500 file limit so no more than 500 games despite available space.
5c. Make your new partition PRIMARY and ACTIVE
Format the Wii HDD with WBFS Manager (WBFS partition)
1. Run WBFS Manager 3.0; for WBFS Manager for MacOS, make sure to first start WBFS Manager for MacOS and THEN plug the Wii HDD into your PC USB port.
2. Select your new drive letter (the drive partition created in Step 5a) and press Format. If the drive does not show, Press Refresh Drive List. To access or use the drive, press the LOAD button.
3. Let's test the WBFS-formatted partition before formatting the other partition(s).
Rip Game Directly from Disc to Wii HDD
Plug your Wii HDD into the OUTERMOST USB PORT (lower or left USB port depending on Wii position). Power up Wii, from the system menu activate USB Loader GX. Load USB HDD. To rip game disc from Wii, push (+) button and insert game disc into Wii drive. Installing a game to the Wii HDD should not take more than 15-20 minutes.
WBFS Manager - Adding Game ISOs
Some will need to backup their Wii games from a downloaded game ISO because the original game discs are too badly damaged to allow for a direct install from disc to Wii HDD. DO NOT ASK FOR DOWNLOAD SITES.
1. To add a game ISO to the WBFS-formatted drive or partition, press the Browse button on the lower right-hand window and locate your ISO.
2. Either double-click the ISO and the game title will now show in the WBFS Manager right-hand window. One can also use Windows Explorer and drag the ISO the the right-hand window. Repeat for multiple ISOs.
3. Select the game title(s) and press the Add button
4. The game(s) will now be added to the Wii HDD. Note that, as extraneous material is not copied to the Wii HDD, the file size will be smaller than 4.37GB.
5. After games have been added to the Wii HDD, clear the ISO list by selecting the game titles again in the right-hand window, and press Remove From List
Formatting the FAT32 Partition of the Wii HDD
1. To format a FAT32 partition on the Wii HDD, return to the the PC Disk Manager and again either select the size of partition for the FAT32 format or select all the remaining space. The process is the same as directed under the Partitioning the HDD section. Right click the Wii HDD and again select New. Assign a letter to the new partition. This time, select Format when creating the new partition. Format as FAT32. If choosing a cluster size, choose 32KB to be consistent with the size of the Wii disc sector.
2. In the event of an error such as "The volume is too big for FAT32" there are several options to try to successfully format the selected partition as FAT32:
2A. DOS Command - use the DOS command: in WinXP Go to Start, then RUN, then type CMD. In Win7 Go to Start, use the search window and enter cmd, select it when found.
At the prompt, type format /FS:FAT32 X: ; substitute the letter of your designated Wii Drive FAT32 partition for the letter X.
2B. The DOS command will not work for HDDs 1TB and larger. Try one of these FAT32 formatting tools from either Ridgecrop Consultants HERE or the Tokiwa FAT32 formatter HERE.
2C. Or try Easeus Partition Manager. This is also a good hard drive utility for creation of multiple partitions (FAT32 and NTFS) or if the FAT32/NTFS partitions require resizing after creation. Download from HERE.
3. To use the Wii HDD FAT32 instead of the SD card, the files and folder structures must match that of the SD card.
Example: HDD:\Apps\Wad Manager\boot.dol
The Homebrew Channel will first look at the SD card slot, if no SD card is resident, then HBC will look at the FAT32-formatted HDD partition. Remember that many, but not all, homebrew applications will run from the HDD.
To Play Wii Games from USB Loader GX
Global application settings can be changed by pressing the settings button. Settings can also be set for an individual game; after the game is selected a game disc image will display and another settings option will be available-this time for the individual game.
To select a game from the list use the D-pad: Up/DOWN scrolls by 1 game; LEFT/RIGHT scrolls up and down by 9 game titles, respectively. The scroll bar can also be grabbed to move the highlight bar. Once the desired game is highlighted, press the A button and the game disc screen will display. At this menu, one can either play the game by selecting the disc or change game settings. In addition to the video, more information on USB Loader GX settings has been posted by WiiJohn HERE . For questions on installing USB Loader GX, try richardsito's guide HERE.
To download cover art for your game backups, hover the WiiMote cursor on the game box image (the one with the big question mark labelled No Image). An onscreen message "Click to Download Covers will appear"; press the WiiMote "A" button to download covers. For some, the WiiMote "1" button initiates the cover art download.
Note for playing out-of-region games - first setting of choice is to set the Video Mode to force the video feed to your own region. Example: to play a PAL game on an NTSC Wii, set Video Mode to FORCE NTSC.
All hard drives will eventually fail. To make a backup of your Wii HDD, one can either use the CLONE drive button in WBFS Manager to clone the WBFS partition to a WBFS partition on a backup HDD or one can select a game or group of games and use the Drive-to-Drive copy command in WBFS Manager. In either case, the source HDD is to be loaded in the top left window and the target drive is loaded in the lower left window.
WiiWare/Virtual Console Games
Play WiiWare/Virtual Console games from the FAT32 partition of the Wii HDD:
1A. Triiforce is a homebrew application that allows WiiWare to load and run from an emulated NAND backup of your Wii. The Triiforce guide by Sinyk is HERE.
1B. WiiWare/VC can also be run using SNEEK (will run from USB, but SD card is required) or UNEEK (preferred). The Cile's tutorial for both SNEEK and UNEEK is HERE.
1C. Play WiiWare/VC using ISO forwarders. Follow emuhack's guide HERE.
1D. uLoader 4.X - has WiiWare/VC NAND emulation. Not all games are compatible; one can check a compatibility list HERE.
NeoGamma can also load games from the Wii HDD
Other USB Loaders include:Configurable USB Loader v65, uLoader v5.1D, and WiiFlow.
uLoader uses its own cIOS (IOS 222/223/224) to load and disables IOS249 during its operation. A guide to uLoader has been created by Cile and is HERE.
For information on installation and settings for Wiiflow, go HERE for a guide posted by Ithian.
For information on configureable USB Loader, Stomp_442 has a guide HERE.
FAT32 ONLY Wii Drive
For those wanting to use an HDD formatted as only FAT32, please follow the guide created by Cile and Krank HERE.
USB Flash (Jump, Thumb) Drive
USB Flash drives can not be routinely partitioned as they are not seen as fixed media by the PC OS. To make the PC see the USB device as a local or fixed drive rather than as removable storage, a data bit needs to be changed or flipped. There is a Lexar utility that can flip the Removeable Media Bit setting of Lexar and some other brands of USB flash drives. Download BootIt from HERE. Under Options, Click the Flip Removeable Bit button. If successful, now the USB Flash Drive will be seen as a fixed drive and can be partitioned and formatted.
If BootIt is not successful, a more powerful multifunctional utility is RMPrepUSB. Download RMPrepUSB from HERE. Note that the site has basic information, a FAQ, and tutorials. For Wii use, one needs only to partition and format.
As only a few games will fit on a USB Flash Drive, a list of final game sizes HERE, maintained by Krank, may be helpful.
Game Manager (188.8.131.52) download HERE to manage game files in CISO format.
Acknowledgements: Dogeggs, messie, ShadowSonic2, and mauifrog for superb softmodding tutorials; WiiJohn, Ithian, Stomp_442, richardsito, and Cile for their USB Loader guides; Cile and Krank for USB HDD FAT32 only guide; Krank for the list of scrubbed game sizes; Sinyk for Triiforce guide; Cile for the SNEEK/UNEEK guide; emuhack for ISO Forwarders Guide; Project Owners for USB Loader GUI -thedarkness1981, dimok, mauricewoelk, giantpune; Team USB Loader GX only thread for the libwiigui based usb iso loader; CodePlex Open Source Community.[/INDENT]