We have a bad habit of scratching games. I just bought a 320GB HDD for my 360 Slim. I plan on keeping the discs around still, but I know they will get scratched.

Will I be able to play a scratched disc if it's saved to the hard drive?

A GameStop kid said the 360 just looks for thing in the middle (?) and as long as it's saved to the HDD, I can still play it, no matter how scratched it is. I just wanted to know if that's true.

  • I do believe it depends on which specific game in question is being installed.
    – Ender
    Apr 22, 2013 at 15:18
  • The best to solve this problem is determine what behavior casues these disks to become scratch. I have in 5 years and hundres of hours on most of my games never ONCE scratched a game disk.
    – Ramhound
    Apr 22, 2013 at 16:12
  • 1
    I have scratched two of my discs in the past (GTA IV, Call Of Duty 4) to the point that the would not start. I was able to install the games using my brother's discs and then use my discs to start the game and it worked in both cases. Like others have said, it will probably depend on which part gets scratched, so I wouldn't depend on it.
    – Jason B
    Apr 22, 2013 at 20:50
  • I don't think that is true(looking for a thing in the middle) though if it knows what the disk is, in my experience(3 copies of most games MULTI.) If it knows what the game is, it can generally be ran off the HDD with the disk in the drive. May not work with them all, though you've got a better chance of getting them to still play if you do so.
    – Brok3n
    May 24, 2014 at 6:20

5 Answers 5


The short answer is no.

The long answer is "it depends". Some games are programmed to depend on data stored only on the disk, so even if you have a local install on the 360, they may be missing important information. Other games will install to the hard drive and then never use the disk for anything important again, so it might still work.

My suggestion here is, break your habit. Put your disks back in the damn case when you're finished using them, so they don't get scratched, takes 10 seconds of your life. Even if every single game installed to the hard drive and never needed the disks again, what happens when your xbox inevitablly breaks down or RRODs? Now, not only do you have to replace your xbox, but also hundreds of dollars worth of game disks too.

  • 1
    The early models are known to scratch your discs. And if your xbox red rings, you can just remove the hard drive with all your installed games on it, and put it in your new xbox (assuming you aren't getting a slim when you had a pre-slim model). Other than that your suggestions are good, +1.
    – Kevin
    Apr 22, 2013 at 16:41
  • AFAIK, the whole disc is copied ("installed") to the harddrive, the disc is not read any time after the game boot and it's loaded. The Xbox360 install process is very different to the PS3 install.
    – Spidey
    Sep 16, 2013 at 19:48

There is some "scratch resistance" advantage in installing games to your hard drive, but it's likely to vary and is still going to be somewhat unpredictable. Essentially, if you know you're going to scratch a game, you might want to install it as a precaution, but there's still a chance it still just won't play.

The 360 still spins up the disc to make sure it's legitimate when you play a game installed to your hard drive, and there's honestly no telling what Microsoft is checking with regards to the disc. I've managed to install "spotty" discs to the drive and then play the game fine after that, but other times it hasn't worked so well.

If you scratch discs frequently, a better idea might be to figure out a system to take better care of them, or invest in a device that can resurface them.


one sure-fire way to avoid scratching discs if you do return them to the cases and they still get scratched is never use your xbox 360 console standing on end like they were shown in advertisements, they WILL scratch discs badly in that position. ALWAYS lay the 360 flat with the drive opening up and oriented like a PC disc drive tray.

Just food for thought for those who want to stand their consoles up like the ads show you can do. (standing them up is fine if you never plan to use discs but only DLC and DL games, or entertainment apps)

As for playing and using scratched discs, yes you can still use a scratched disc as long as the scratches are not too bad and the initial load-up sector of the disc is readable, as I believe an installed game only needs the start section to run the installed game. I think you can even buy a product at stores like Wal-Mart or BestBuy that will fix scratches on discs (not 100% positive though).


If you find yourself with an unplayable disk, though the Xbox can read it enough to say what the game disk is. Find a copy not scratched, copy it to the Xbox and the put the scratched disk in. If it can read what disk it is, it should run fine off the Xbox.(Halo 3 not recommended, though not much other choice if it's the only playable option).


The answer is yes, if you install the game to the hard drive. If the disk is scratched, not working. It'll still play just fine.

  • Not if the Xbox can't read what the game is.
    – Brok3n
    Jun 14, 2014 at 23:08

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