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Nov 12 2012
By: Thin_Mint First Son 2 posts

Easiest way to upgrade your HDD (Hard Drive) on your PS3

2 replies 1152 views Edited Nov 12, 2012

Today I am going to write to you the last 24hrs of my time and experience gained from my event to successfully upgrade my hard drive (HDD) from my PS3.



An External hard drive containing more space than the current drive in your PS3

A new HDD (specifically what kind will be discussed later)

A Phillips head screw driver

A computer

Your PS3 and its HDD

A lot of free time


Let's start with the new HDD that you will purchase. I have very little knowledge on quality of HDDs but I do know that ALL PS3s run off of a 2.5 inch SATA notebook drive with an 8Mb cache and 5400rpm. When I first went to my local electronics store, I bought the biggest and fastest drive they had. THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA! You will be wasting money as the PS3 reformats your 7200rpm drive right on down to 5400, rendering your speed demon as slow as the rest of them. If the formatting does work, your drive will often crash or freeze. I know that there are plenty of people out there who probably did buy the 7200rpm model and it works just fine. I happen to be very unlucky with mine and so I will recommend getting the exact format that the PS3 originally came with.


Sony's PS3 should come with a Seagate HDD. Mine came with a TOSHIBA, which I found to be very strange. I found no record of other PS3s with TOSHIBA drives in any recent searches, which still confuses me. Anyway, I went out and exchanged my 7200 RPM HDD for a 2.5 inch Seagate Momentus LP 5400rpm 250Gb 8 Mb cache HDD. From here I thought I was good to go. The cashier managed to forget to clear that security box inside the packaging of the drive, and so the store theft detectors went off. I'm not entirely sure if that was the cause of the HDD to fail but it did. I finally settled on a 2.5 inch Western Digital Scorpio Blue 320Gb 5400rpm HDD. This drive worked immediately without any problems at all.


Now let's get into the process of setting it all up. I will be sure to point out key steps that a lot of other "How To's" have forgotten. First, BEFORE EVEN TAKING OUT YOUR OLD HDD, BE SURE TO BACK UP THE FILES! To do this, you will need an empty external hard drive. You can buy one of these at any store that has an electronics department. BE SURE TO GET A DRIVE THAT HAS MORE SPACE THAN YOUR OLD PS3 HDD OR YOU WILL LOSE DATA.

I strongly recommend formatting the drive to FAT32 or the PS3 wont recognize the external drive for use. There are a few ways to format the external drive however, I recommend using a software called SWISSKNIFE. You can also format the drive through command prompt. I used a 1Tb external drive and I imagine that would have taken close to a year to format completely if I had used the command prompt method. There are plenty of "How To's" on using SWISSKNIFE to format the external drive, so start searching. I will not explain some portions on here, otherwise we will be reading this for ages, and I'm not interested in writing a book.


After formatting the external hard drive, plug the it into the PS3 and go to SETTINGS>SYSTEM SETTINGS>BACK UP UTILITY. Be sure to READ the prompts on the screen so that you back up your information onto your EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE and NOT onto the PS3 again. This process will take a very long time; anywhere from 1-5 hours.

After this is done, pull the drive from the PS3 and put it into a computer that is already on. Locate the drive to view the files. You should see a folder called "PS3" . Within that folder will be "EXPORT" > "BACKUP" > "a bunch of numbers" . DO NOT TOUCH OR EDIT THESE. The numbered folder holds a bunch of "archive" files. Those are your backup files from your PS3! Now return to the main screen of the EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE and rename the "PS3" folder something else; I named it "PS34" . Then, create a new folder under the renamed folder and call it "PS3" . Inside of this "PS3" folder you will need to make a folder called "UPDATE" (make sure all the folder names are in all CAPITOL LETTERS or the PS3 will NOT recognize the folder and may delete it (knowing my luck.) Within this folder called "UPDATE" you will need to download the latest PS3 update from the Playstation website. The file will be called "PS3UPDAT.PUP" . You will need to put that file into the UPDATE folder inside the newly created PS3 folder. REMEMBER, YOU RENAMED THE OLD PS3 FOLDER TO SOMETHING ELSE, LEAVE THAT FOLDER ALONE!


Change out the old HDD from your PS3 and put in the new HDD. REMEMBER TO USE A 5400RPM HDD! There are plenty of videos online that show you how to do this process, and in the interest of time, I'll skip right to turning on the PS3.


You have changed out your old HDD and put in a brand new one! BEFORE TURNING ON THE PS3, PLUG IN THE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE. Then turn on the console, a prompt will appear asking you to plug in a controller to the USB cable and push the PS button. A long message will then appear asking you to update the system to a version of 4.30 (or whatever the latest update is for PS3 at the time.) Press START and SELECT and the same time. The PS3 will begin looking for the EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE where it will find the PS3 folder with the update in it!




If you did not freeze and it successfully updated, congratulations! You are almost there! You will then be asked to hold START and SELECT for 5 seconds while it reformats all the drives. By renaming the folder with the backup archive files in it, they will NOT be deleted during formatting!


Your PS3 should then restart and you will need to reconfigure your console like you did when you first bought it by putting in the language, date, and time. Pull out the EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE and put it back into your computer. DELETE the "PS3" folder with the UPDATE folder and file in it. Go back and rename the folder you first renamed to "PS3" again (the one with the backup archive files in it.) Safely remove the EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE from the computer and plug it back in to the PS3. Got to SETTINGS>SYSTEM SETTINGS> BACKUP UTILITY and select RESTORE all the files from your old HDD that you backed up should now restore themselves onto the new HDD! This should take the same amount of time as it did to back up the files earlier. That's all there is to it!


PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT ERRORS IN THE PROCESS OF DOING YOUR HDD UPGRADE! I will be happy to help! Also do NOT add the quotation marks into your folder names. Those are just there to clarify what the folder name must be.


Hopefully this helps some of you,






Message 1 of 3 (1,152 Views)
MVP Support
Registered: 09/17/2009
15519 posts

Re: Easiest way to upgrade your HDD (Hard Drive) on your PS3

Nov 12, 2012

You certainly put some work into this, which I appreciate; and there is some useful advice here that isn't mentioned in any of the Sony documentation.  That said, you did get a few things wrong.


First of all, formatting has no effect on the rotation speed of the drive; and little effect on its overall performance.  The PS3 cannot reformat a 7200rpm drive to 5400rpm, or any other speed. No device can do that. The rotation speed of the drive is an intrinsic hardware characteristic that no device that the drive is installed in can change.  A 7200rpm drive will perform some operations faster than a 5400rpm drive, so buying one isn't necessarily a waste of money.  It isn't necessarily a good idea either, and Sony doesn't recommend doing it.  In addition to costing more money for a minor performance increase, the faster drive uses more electricity, and generates more heat.  More heat isn't good for the console; although the difference in heat output between a 7200rpm drive and a 5400rpm drive isn't huge, and shouldn't cause a problem in older PS3s that had chips that ran fairly hot.  It may not be a good idea in a super-slim PS3, that doesn't have much space in the case for air flow, and is designed with a relatively cool-running chip set. By the way, the people that had problems with their PS3 freezing after upgrading the hard drive did not have a problem because the rotation speed was too fast.  They had the problem because the data transfer speed was too fast (anything more than 1.5Gbps is too fast for the PS3, although some 3.0Gbps drives are backward-compatible with 1.5Gbps interfaces).


As with all computer manufacturers, Sony has always used multiple brands of hard disk drives; although generally from Japanese suppliers.  Many PS3s have Toshiba drives.  Some have Hitachi drives.  Some may use other brands.  It all depends on which drive the factory can get the best price for during any particular month. The brand of the drive doesn't matter, as long as it is compatible with the PS3's 1.5Gbps SATA interface.


Formatting an external hard drive using the built-in format utility depends on what operating system your PC runs.  Windows will only format partitions of 32GB or less as FAT32.  Recent versions of MacOS X, and Linux, don't have that restriction.  There are third-party utilities that run on Windows that can format drives of up to 2TB as FAT32 (of which SwissKnife is one).  The time to format the drive is largely the same regardless of which tool that you use.  Issuing the command from the command line does not speed the formatting process to any significant degree.


Formatting a hard drive deletes everything on the drive, without exception.  However, the PS3 System only formats the PS3 internal hard drive.  It doesn't format external drives at all, so there is no danger that your backup files will be formatted by the PS3. You can use the same external drive for backup, and installing the new System software.  There is no need to rename any folders, at any time, in order to do that.

Message 2 of 3 (1,132 Views)
First Son
Registered: 11/11/2012
2 posts

Re: Easiest way to upgrade your HDD (Hard Drive) on your PS3

Mar 12, 2013

I really appreciate your knowledge on the subject! I am in no way shape or form a tech geek, and so I attempted to write this to any other people who are like me, and were unable to understand the other instructions that were available. Upon trying the 7200rpm HDD, my ps3 froze very often. I was sure it was because I was using the faster rpm drive, but I can definitely see why too fast of a data tranfer could also be the case. It is interesting that the brand doesn't matter either, that should make it easier for anyone who has the desire to upgrade their HDD in the future. The reason I renamed the file to "PS34" was because I did not want the PS3 to use my back up files until after it had installed the update. I was trying to be safe in making sure that I did the boot up in the correct order and not attempt to load the files onto the hard drive, and then reformat the drive and install the update. It was a "better safe than sorry" move in my opinion. I hope that my article helped at least some people however. Again, I appreciate your knowledge and advice on the subject, especially one that can sometimes be so tricky for me and some others to understand!




Message 3 of 3 (801 Views)