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How to Use a Zune as a Portable Hard Drive

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 6/10/2009

Microsoft strikes again. While the iPod works as a hard drive no matter what you plug it into, the Zune doesn't act as a hard drive without some tweaking. Here's how.

  • slide 1 of 10

    Microsoft's Zune mp3 player doesn't automatically plug into your computer as an external hard drive, unlike almost every other player on the market.

  • slide 2 of 10

    Why might you want it to function as a hard drive?

    If you move a lot of documents between computers, or use portable applications, it doesn't make sense to carry around an external hard drive (or thumb drive) and your Zune.

  • slide 3 of 10

    First Things First

    If you're looking to get your Zune to double as an external hard drive, you'll have to modify some Windows registry values. Modifying the registry can have unexpected effects, sometimes making the operating system completely non-functional. So before you do anything, you'll want to back up the registry.

  • slide 4 of 10

    Backing Up the Registry in Windows Vista

    Click Start, or the big Windows icon in the Start bar

    Type systempropertiesprotection in the Start Search box.

    Press ENTER.

    If you are prompted for a password or for confirmation, type in your password, or click Allow.

    Windows will search for available disks and most recent restore points.

    Make sure System Restore is turned on.

    In the System Properties dialog box, on the System Protection tab, click Create.

    Type a name for the restore point, like "PreZuneModification" and then click Create.

    After the restore point has been created successfully, click OK twice.

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    Backing Up the Registry in Windows XP

    Click Start, then click Run, and type "%SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe".

    Click OK.

    On the Welcome to System Restore page, make sure System Restore is turned on.

    Click Create a restore point, and then click Next.

    On the Create a Restore Point page, type a name for the restore point, like PreZuneModification and then click Create.

    After the restore point has been created, click Close.

  • slide 6 of 10

    Make Registry Changes

    Unplug your Zune form your computer.

    Exit any Zune software that is running on your computer.

    Go to the Start menu and select Run.

    Type regedt32 and hit "OK"

    This opens the registry editing screen

    Search for "PortableDeviceNameSpace".

    This should be contained in the Vid_####&Pid_####\########_-_########_-_########_-_########\Device Parameters within the above ...\USB\ The ##'s listed here will be numbers and letters specific to your Zune

    Change the following values:

    • EnableLegacySupport to 1
    • PortableDeviceNameSpaceExcludeFromShell to 0
    • ShowInShell to 1

    Exit regedit.

    Plug in your Zune, and make sure the Zune Software starts up.

    At this point you can open up "My Computer" and browse your device, though it does NOT show up as a drive letter.

  • slide 7 of 10

    If Something Goes Wrong

    If you discover that something went wrong during the registry editing, restoring your system to its previous settings is easy.

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    Restore System Settings in Windows Vista

    Click the Start button, or the big Windows icon in the Start bar.

    In the Start Search box, type systempropertiesprotection

    Press ENTER.

    If you are prompted for a password or for confirmation, type in your password, or click Allow.

    In the System Properties dialog box, on the System Protection tab, click System Restore.

    In the System Restore dialog box select Choose a different restore point, and then click Next.

    Select the restore point that you want to use, which should be the one you saved as "PreZuneModification," and then click Next.

    Confirm your restore point, and then click Finish

    System restore restores the selected Windows Vista configuration and then restarts the computer.

    Log on to the computer. When the System Restore confirmation page appears, click OK..

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    Restore System Settings in Windows XP

    Click Start

    Click Run, and type %SystemRoot%\System32\Restore\Rstrui.exe

    Click OK.

    On the Welcome to System Restore page, click Restore my computer to an earlier time (if it is not already selected), and then click Next.

    On the Select a Restore Point page, click the system checkpoint.

    In the On this list select the restore point area, click an entry that is named "Guided Help (Registry Backup)," and then click Next.

    If a System Restore message appears that lists configuration changes that System Restore will make, click OK.

    On the Confirm Restore Point Selection page, click Next.

    System Restore restores the previous Windows XP configuration and then restarts the computer.

    Log on to the computer. When the System Restore confirmation page appears, click OK..

  • slide 10 of 10

    Hopefully, you've now got you Zune working as an external hard drive. If not, you backed-up your registry and restored it, so no harm, no foul.