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The living room game console Which Game Consoles Can You Use as a Media Center? Which Game Consoles Can You Use as a Media Center? Looking at Microsoft and Sony's next generation offerings, it seems that bringing video, TV, music and your photo collection (and probably social networking) into the mix of games and achievement unlocking is now part and... Read More has become a central media hub for many, which can mean large movie downloads. Despite all the controversy surrounding DRM, digital game downloads have finally arrived too – nowadays, you can download premium AAA titles on launch day without having to wait for a piece of plastic to arrive in the mail. And if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, you have gigabytes of new games literally thrown at you every month. On environmental grounds, I couldn’t be happier about the move to digital – but it means local storage needs are growing rapidly. The days of having a slot-in memory cartridge are far gone – a few hundred gigabytes would be modest by today’s standards. Let’s upgrade.

Luckily, Sony made it really easy and user-serviceable to upgrade the internal storage drive – unlike Microsoft, who locked it down and demanded you buy first-party approved models only. Upgrading your PS3 drive will not void the warranty.

Why Upgrade?

I recently bought a new PS3 Super Slim – the latest model – but it only came with a measly 12 GB flash storage. I could have purchased the one that came with a 500 GB drive – but that was another $80, a waste given that I have a few 2.5-inch SATA drives sitting at home from past projects.

It must be said that if you don’t already have a spare drive you’re looking to use, you’re not going to save any by going the DIY route if you’re buying a new console. A new drive will set you back around $60, plus another $20 for the mounting plate required in the new Super Slim model – you may as well as just buy it complete with drive from the start.

If you own an older PS3, such as the original 40gb or 80 GB “fat” models, you’ll certainly be looking to upgrade. As I mentioned, all you’ll need is a new drive – 500 GB will set you back about $60. Read on.

NOTE: If you are just adding a drive to a 12 GB Super Slim model, you don’t need to back up or re-install system software. Just follow the guide section below to open it up, add a drive mounting bracket, and throw the drive in. The 12 GB of internal flash storage transfers over to the new drive – that’s it. The rest of these instructions only apply to case of upgrades from one physical drive to another.

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Which Drive to Buy? Anything Else I Need?

PlayStation 3 requires a SATA drive, 2.5-inch form factor – the same as you find in laptops, not desktops. You can use either an SSD How Do Solid-State Drives Work? [MakeUseOf Explains] How Do Solid-State Drives Work? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few decades, there has been a considerable amount of work in the field of computer hardware. While computer technology is constantly improving and evolving, rarely do we experience moments where we simply... Read More or a traditional spinning drive, but I would suggest going for the largest you can afford. Particularly thick drives – 12.5 mm – may require a case mod, so you may find some 1 TB drives do not fit.

EuroGamer found that in terms of performance gains for game installs, the limiting factor appeared to be the Blu-ray drive – having an SSD didn’t seem to help much for most games. In terms of load times, Gran Turismo 5 took twice as long (around 30 seconds) to load a particular level on a 5400 rpm drive compared to an SSD; however, other games saw little to no benefit. In conclusion, you’re not going to see a noticeable difference. The best balance between price and performance seems lie in a 7200 rpm drive.

If you wish to save your current data, you’ll need another external hard drive with USB connection, as long as it has at least the capacity of your current drive, there is no problem with physical size.

external-drive

There’s are no Torx screw involved in the upgrade process, so all you need is a small cross head screwdriver, and in some cases, a flat head screwdriver to pry off case parts.

Step One: Backup

Assuming you want to keep your current game saved states and profiles, you’ll need to perform a full system backup first. A few important points to note:

  • This will not back up games and media downloaded from the store – these will need to be re-downloaded on your upgraded system.
  • Trophies not associated with a PSN account cannot be backed up, so it’s recommended you create a PSN account for every user first.
  • Copy-protected game saves will be backed up, but they cannot be used on another system. So long as you are restoring to the same PS3, you should be fine.
  • The drive you’re currently using is encrypted – you cannot simply plug it into a PC and copy across files later, it must be done using the backup utility.
  • The drive is keyed to your PS3 – you cannot give it to a friend and have them access your files, it will ask to be formatted when they insert it into their PS3.

Before backing up, the external USB drive must be formatted with FAT32, not NTFS. Your existing data will not be overwritten.

backup-utility-menu

Start the backup from System Settings -> Backup. The data will be saved in the PS3 -> EXPORT -> BACKUP folder.

ps3-backing-up-progress

Before continuing, it’s also important to download the latest firmware install. After ensuring you’re running the latest system software on your PS3, visit this website to download the system install files needed to get a base system running. The link is somewhat hidden – it’s a black button labelled DOWNLOAD NOW in tiny text at the end of the steps under the heading “Update data download procedure”.

ps3-site-install-link

Place it on your drive in the PS3 -> UPDATE folder. The file should be called PS3UPDAT.PUP. If you make a mistake or change the naming system, your PS3 isn’t going to be able to to read the update.

ps3-update-folders

Upgrade Guide: Super Slim (Newest)

The Super Slim 12 GB is fitted with flash memory, so there is no internal drive and you will not need to back up or restore. In order to add a drive to this model, you’ll need to purchase a replacement drive mounting caddy. The caddy for the Super Slim is incompatible with older models, so check before you buy.

superslim-caddy

The drive area can be found on the right side of the device (looking from the front), next to the CD tray. Slide the plastic panel toward the back of the device to remove.

superslim-cover

Fit your drive to the bracket using four supplied screws that should have come with it. Slot in carefully, aligning the SATA connectors and secure with the blue screw.

superslim-slide-in

Go ahead and boot up – the system will detect a new drive, and ask if you wish to use this to store system data and saves etc. Note that once you’ve done this, the internal flash memory will no longer be used – you cannot choose to download games to one or the other.

Upgrade Guide: Slim (Older)

The drive is accessed from the underside, laid flat. You’ll find a rectangular cover on the left-center; lift and twist this to reveal a blue screw which secures the drive tray.

slim-hdd-location

Next, there’s a black plastic drive cover on the front bezel under the Blu-ray drive; slide this to the side, and the drive caddy can be pulled out. This video from IGN explains the process.

Upgrade Guide: Fat (Oldest)

You’ll find the drive slot on the underside of the device (when standing upright). Removing the drive cover is a simple affair, and inside there’s a single blue screw holding the metal drive mount to the PS3.

(Please excuse the dirty PS3 below – I fished this out from the trash; it doesn’t work, the chip is burnt out and reflowing didn’t fix it)

fat-cover-off

Unscrew that, then slide toward the front of the device (where the buttons and drive tray are), and it should unlock. You can now slide out the drive.

fat-slide-out

The drive itself is secured to the mount with the usual selection of four screws.

fat-drive

Re-Install

Upon first booting the system, you’ll be greeted with an error. Plug in the external drive to install the system software first, then once you’re up and running, proceed to restore your old data, again from System -> Backup utility. All done!

This has been a long article, and may seem kind of complicated at first, but it’s really not. Sony has made it really simple to upgrade, and for that we must thank them. Backup; change drives; install software; restore from backup – it’s is about as simple as it can get, really.

Have you ever run into problems upgrading your drive? Did you buy a newer drive that was incompatible and can share your story? Let us know in the comments, and share this article if you found it useful!

Image Credits: PS3 HDD Via Flickr

  1. R RICE-EL
    September 14, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Hey thanks for this info very helpful info when I get aroud to conquering this tasks myself.

  2. Tony Waweru
    April 28, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    I have a FAT model previously chipped then unchipped when updated can it be rechipped if I insert a new hdd with custom firmware

  3. biggr3d
    April 25, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    I have a slim that crashed but I have a fat that still works can I just switch and reformat the slim hard drive into the fat system without backing anything up I have psplus so all my save data is uploaded thanks in advance

  4. Sahil Dheer
    April 8, 2015 at 5:46 am

    Hi, I have a PS3 super slim 12 Gb model. I wanted to increase the storing capacity of my ps3 so i contact sony they told me i cannot use hard drive of more than 250 gb.
    Can anyone provide the following details.
    1. What is the maximum size of hard disk compatible for my model ?
    2. Specification of the Hard Drive.

  5. david
    February 27, 2015 at 12:50 am

    hi there hope you can help james my ps3 wont start there nothing and 30sec later turn off i can go into safe mode and the ps3 will stay on but whatever i try in safe mode nothing work and now when i try update it dose nothing can you please help me thank you

    • John Herman II
      June 25, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      David, I am having the same issue. I was wondering if you had this corrected and how?

  6. Jen
    February 24, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    after installing a new 500 GB HDD into my son's 12 GB Superslim PS3, everything went smooth during installation , now the games are freezing up and he has to shut it off and restart. The same thing keeps happening - any advice?

  7. PJ
    February 14, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Hello
    Trying to install a new HDD 320GB from WD. It's clicked in and I hear it's buzzing so it should be working. BUT when I start my PS3 after inserting the HDD, it doesn't say anything about 'new HDD found'. It also still says I have 12GB of space... I can't find a way to make the HDD work.. It's an internal HDD btw and I have a macbook so I can't pop it in a PC and format it in FAT32 or anything.
    I tried many things already (restoring system data, updating via USB etc). It doesn't seem to recognize the HDD... But I hear it's working and it's plugged in correctly etc.
    Frustrating.
    Anyone?

    • James Bruce
      February 16, 2015 at 11:16 am

      You should be able to format it as FAT from your macbook, but you'll need some way of interfacing the two. I'd suggest checking it will a computer first anyway just o make sure it's actually working.

  8. Srinath Pelluri
    February 1, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Hi,

    Very Nice Article - Thanks for giving us a good insight on this.

    I have a PS3 FAT model with 320 GB, the disk got full after I had bought couple of Games Online using PlayStore last year Christmas . So I had made a backup to external WD Passport HDD, Backup was successful.

    Bought a new 1TB - WD 9.5" Laptop Hard disk model : WDC WD10JPVX (SATA III - 6.0 Gbps). Removed old one & Installed new successfully.

    Followed the same procedure to install the PS3 Software with PS3UPDAT.PUP as mentioned in the article. Successfully updated with latest firmware 4.66.

    While restoring, the backup from WD - Passport, the progress bar goes till 75% and suddenly says Error while restoring the data. Tried this with 2 back ups I have. Same issue.

    Now, when I check the Games list, I see that previous downloaded and installed Games like NFS HP / NFS MW etc shows up, when I start the game it works till Menu, but it doesn't Start the Game actually when we select Career and select a game to play on. The progress bar for loading keeps on loading and doesn't show the Game on screen. I am not sure what can be done.

    For 5 Games that I tried to launch I had see this issue. Haven't tried demo versions though - will try them and let you know.

    I tried almost everything, booting into Safe Mode, Restoring File System, Restoring Database.
    But it doesn't seem to do the fix.

    I had also ran an WD Quick & Extended Drive test on new 1 TB drive to see if any errors there - thinking that it is the cause of Game Stuck issue. No errors found on new drive.

    Anyone has seen similar issues ??

    Do I need to replace the HDD with SATA low speed model (SATA 3 Gbps). My Laptop has the same WD HDD - WD10JPVT - and I thinking to experiment on how it goes, if I swap with one another.

    What can done in this case, do I need to download the game from scratch again ?

    What is the best way that can be followed to remove the old games that came from backup and install them back by downloading from PlayStore.

    Dear Experts : What Are your recommendations / suggestions ?

  9. dewald
    January 29, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Hi I want to buy a 12gb super slim ps3 I have a 500gb super slim ps3 If I buy the new hdd mounting kit for ps3 super slim will it work I heard it does I know it will delete all saved data and all downloaded games but that is fine but I just need some advise will it work tho if I buy that kit put in my 500gb in the kit and take out the 12gb hard drive and put my 500gb into the 12gb ps3 will it work? Please reply because I do not know much about this

  10. desol
    January 20, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Hi again, last night I have installed new HDD in my PS3 Super Slim 12gb, and it was so easy :) PS3 have formated HDD disk by it self (I diddnt format it in FAT32, I just inserted new HDD in PS3). After formatin of HDD was over, PS3 even transferd by it self all of my saved progress to my new HDD :) So, very cool!

  11. desol
    January 14, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Hi, I am little confused... I have PS3 Super Slim 12gb and I wannt to upgrade it with an internal 2.5`` HDD... Does this internal HDD have to be formated as FAT32 (or the PS3 will do it it self once instaled) or this is only for external HDD`s? Thank you for response! :)

    • James Bruce
      January 15, 2015 at 8:11 am

      You will need to format it before installing internally, PS3 won't do it.

    • desol
      January 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      So NTSCF formated HDD`s will not work in PS3 Super Slim? It has to be FAT32? But I have heard that on FAT32 cannt instal big games such as GTA V for example, is it true? Once again, thank you for response...

    • James Bruce
      January 15, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      NTFS wont work, no. Games should install file, but you will have issues if you're trying to copy a >4gb ISO file onto an external drive that's formatted with FAT32 (not an issue with the internal drives though, this isnt how theyre installed).

    • desol
      January 15, 2015 at 9:13 pm

      Ok, thank you very much for help... I will try it soon, and I will leave feedback how it goes :)

  12. FireSBurnsmuP
    January 11, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Nice article. Very helpful. However, I do require one clarification: when installing the firmware update stuff onto a hard drive, are you putting this firmware update on the drive you're installing into the ps3, or the external drive containing the backup? Thanks for your time, in advance.

    • James Bruce
      January 12, 2015 at 9:45 am

      IIRC, you put it on the external drive containing the backup; it'll read from there, and install to the new internal drive.

  13. state
    January 4, 2015 at 7:25 am

    don't go for the 7200 rpm drive. i'm reading that they burn out ps3's just about everywhere else. not worth the risk in my opinion. 5400 rpm is the way to go for ps3's

    • James Bruce
      January 4, 2015 at 9:32 am

      I find a single reference to someone saying this online, with no proof. Given that some PS3s have even shipped with 7200rpm drive, this is plainly misinformation.

  14. James
    December 23, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I'm buying a 12gb PS3 slim and was wondering will my mounting bracket from my old fat 40gb PS3 fit in the slim PS3 or will I need to buy a new mounting bracket?

  15. Dave
    December 21, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Hi, i bought the 12gb ps3 "superslim" with a 500gb external fat32 hard drive. How do i get the ps3 to use the 500gb external as the main source rather just to transfer from the 12gb over.

    • James Bruce
      December 24, 2014 at 9:53 am

      That's not possible since it's connected over USB. You would need to buy an internal drive (or extract it from your external one if it's a small one rather than big desktop size drive), and put inside your ps3 to use the internal SATA connector.

  16. wiggy
    December 12, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Hi I have read the article and all of the comments but I'm still a little confused, I have bought a 2nd hand hard drive from a ps3 I want to change mine as that's crashed do I still need to do the fat32 update or will just changing them over work also will I need to change the hard drive into my current mounting cage or just put the new one in?

    • James Bruce
      December 14, 2014 at 10:00 am

      It needs to be formatted as FAT32. If it isn't already, then yes, you need to do that.

      It's best to use the mounting cage, though it isn't strictly neccessary in order to work - it just might fall out. ;)

      Simply changing them over will not work. You need to download the system files mentioned in the article (the PS operating system, basically).

      Unfortunately if your old drive is crashed, you wont be able to recover data, so you'll be starting from a clean install.

  17. Mannan Mukadam
    January 25, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks a lot for this. Upgraded my 40GB hard drive to a 250GB hard drive from my old laptop. I was going to buy a new hard drive until I read your article where u mentioned they are the same size like Laptops. Found your article to be the easiest and best to follow. Currently restoring my old data.

    Thank you.

  18. warlun
    January 19, 2014 at 7:31 am

    ok just got a ps3 fat 80g.But i got a 250g hard left from my old ps3 slim. so i tryed to put the 250g hd in my ps3 fat and it said i need version 4.53. How do i get that on the 250g hd? so i can use in the ps3 fat?

    • James B
      January 19, 2014 at 9:15 am

      First, did you read the article?

  19. Parfait
    January 5, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    i had a problem with my super slim PS#.. i put a new HDD .. 250 GB.. i have downloaded all the PS# firmwares from 4.31 to 4.53.. i tried to reinstall the system (that shld be automatic) but i keep getting a 800147 error at 15 % with all the firmwares.. i dont know what to do! PLEASE HELP!!!

    • James B
      January 6, 2014 at 9:08 am

      It sounds like your firmware files are incomplete. Did you download them from an official site using a reliable browser (i.e., anything except internet explorer)? Did you check the file size against the reported size?

    • Parfait
      January 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      I checked! Everything is complete! I downloaded the latest firmware update from ps3 s site.. still the same thing...

    • James B
      January 6, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Are you sure thats the error code? Have you missed a number? I can't find any reference to it anywhere online, which is highly unlikely.

    • Parfait
      January 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      The error code is 8002F147.. sorry i skipped stg when writing.. it s just that i don t know what to do .. and i cant open the Ps3 because the screws are unusual..

    • James B
      January 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      First answer here: http://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/34824/I+am+getting+error+code+(8002F147)+on+my+PS3

      In short, take out hard rive and fully reformat as NTFS with MBR, copy the firmware across and try again.

    • Parfait
      January 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      i tried that already... same thing.. i did a full format.. not Quick... got the same error.. tried quick format after that.. same thing with all the firmwares...
      i wanted to try to install the firmware on another PS3 with my HDD.. then put back the HDD in my Ps3.. will it work? anybody tried? or is it linked to the PS3 u install system on?

    • James B
      January 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      That won't work. The drive is encrypted and tied to the system it's installed on.

      You still have the old drive right? Put that back, update it, and check which version you're on. Then reformat and be sure to install with same firmware version.

    • Parfait
      January 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      It s still doesnt work... dont know how to make it work.. i had 4.31.. so i downloaded it and tried it.. same thing.. any other idea ?

  20. Sam Sherrington
    December 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Hi, I've received a 90GB SSD for xmas and I wasn't sure if the mounting bracket comes with the 12GB model. I wasn't hoping on spending another £10 on a mounting bracket...

  21. Hassan Shah
    December 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Can i Save my data on a USB Stick?

  22. Phoebe
    November 27, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Great article. I'm replacing the stock 500gb HDD that's in the PS4 I'm getting tomorrow with a 1tb SSHD and seeing as I've run out of room on my 120gb PS3 Slim I thought I'd upgrade it with the one that will be leftover from the PS4. Your guide is exactly what i wanted to see. Tah.

  23. Luis Le Bron
    November 12, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Hey, just did as mentioned above . Upgraded a fatter 40g to a 500g hdd. Unfortunately there was no back up performed. I installed the new hdd 500g and created a CD-R system update. Followed instructions to PS3 file and within UPDATE file. Once inserting disc and following the beeps to enter SAFE MODE the only accepted option was System File Recovery. It's been on the same screen for about 2-3 hours saying Prepairing...Please Wait and a circular motion at the top right of the screen.

    Is this normal or am I doomed! Any help and or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  24. Alena
    October 29, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Hey quick question. I just upgraded a super slim like the one above and didn't use a bracket. It can wiggle around but I don't move the PS and it's on it's side. What are the potential dangers or does it really matter?

    • James B
      October 29, 2013 at 9:10 am

      If its on its side, it's likely pulling down on the interface pins ever so slightly, so there's potential for them to break over time. I really would put a bracket in there.

  25. Justin Pot
    August 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    You've not even owned this thing a month, and here's a guide for taking it apart! Seriously impressed.

  26. Michael
    August 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    My hard disk crashed so no way for me to backup, the onscreen error message is
    Cannot start
    The correct hard disk not found
    1. So on this how do i diwnload the latest system firmware update?
    2. Mine is the fat PS3, can i get the system firmware from a friend who owns the slim, or must it b downloaded by my console?
    3. After much how do i download the "software needed to run a base system"
    Thanks
    Michael

    • MakeUseOf TechGuy
      August 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      1. You need a PC to download the files, from here: http://us.playstation.com/support/systemupdates/ps3/pc_update/index.htm
      Follow the instructions there in or in the article above to place it in the right directory on a drive formatted as FAT32.

      2. You can't download it from a ps3, fat or slim.

      3. Not entirely sure what you mean by this, but it sounds like your drive is busted. Replace that, then attach an external drive with the system firmware; from there everything is basically automatic.

    • vlxxp
      December 6, 2013 at 7:41 pm

      you have formatted the drive to fat32 right?

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