You've earned tons of achievements on your profile for your XBox 360 account. You're finally ready to take it online and enjoy world-wide recognition and fun. Make sure you do it properly, so you don't lose all that hard work!
I can't tell you how many people write me to say their Xbox gaming profile got screwed up when they tried to take it online. In fact, even though we were being really careful, WE screwed this up when we did it the first time! It is important that you take these steps so you don't lose all of your achievement rankings.
1) sign into the account you want to take online
2) choose the option to join xbox live
3) you can choose the existing profile name as your gamer tag or create a new one.
NOTE!! DO NOT RECOVER A NAME!! This will create a NEW PROFILE on your Xbox 360 with a brand new, clean slate. It will not have any of your information on it. Not only that, but this will permanently lock that name. Even if you delete that account, you can never use that name again for an Xbox Live account.
4) Sign in to a hotmail account. If you don't have one, use a web browser to create one.
6) you can save the password, it's much easier that way
7) set time zone and daylight savings time settings
8) wait while it downloads the gamer profile
9) verify your name, phone number and contact info
10) now hooked up with local account. Silver is free and you should automatically get a free month trial of gold to play with.
The key here really is to NOT recover an account. When you recover, it is going to create a new profile. The purpose of recover is to create from scratch a profile which is assumed to NOT be on this Xbox already. You do not want to do that. You want to create a fresh account, using the profile you are signed in as.
In our case, we had an account on the system already. We'll call it LISALOCAL. Then we had an Xbox Live account, we'll call it LISALIVE. When we logged into LISALOCAL, and then told it we wanted to "recover" LISALIVE, it created a brand new profile on our Xbox 360 called LISALIVE with no achievements at all. Not only that, but LISALIVE was now permanently "taken" as a gamertag and could never be used again.
We had to start from scratch, logging into LISALOCAL again, making a new hotmail account, attaching to it, and this time NOT using the recover option. This let the LISALOCAL account become attached to the new gamertag we created.
Note that we called in to the Xbox Support phone number to do this and they were incredibly unhelpful, never mind hard to understand.