How to upgrade your PlayStation 3 hard drive

Find out how to upgrade the hard drive on your PlayStation 3.

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It doesn't matter if you have the 20GB, 60GB, or even the new 80GB PlayStation 3--you can always use more storage space. All that available hard-disk space quickly disappears once you start downloading games, demos, and HD videos. Fortunately, Sony has designed the PS3 to allow console owners to perform their own hard-drive upgrades. You can go out and select your own hard drive instead of being forced to buy an official first-party hard-disk accessory. However, giving console owners that freedom means that aspiring upgraders will need to know how to select the right hard-drive upgrade and the proper installation technique.

The first step to replacing the hard disk is going to the store or visiting an online retailer to pick up a new hard disk. The PS3 is compatible with just about any 2.5-inch SATA notebook hard disk. Both 5400- and 7200-RPM drives should work fine. The physical size of the hard disk is important because it has to fit the PS3's 2.5-inch drive tray. As far as storage capacity goes, it doesn't make sense to go through the trouble of upgrading unless you go big: We're talkin' 120GB, 160GB, or even 250GB.

Hard-disk manufacturer Seagate supplied us with a 160GB Momentus 5400.3 for our upgrade.

Once you have your upgrade drive, the next step is to back up the data on your current PS3 hard drive to an external storage unit. You can skip this step if you aren't attached to your music, videos, and game saves, but most of us will probably want to save all that information. The PS3 has a built-in software backup utility that can copy the PS3's hard-drive contents to an external storage device, such as a USB thumb drive or a memory stick. The removable storage device must use the FAT32 file system in order for the PS3 to recognize it. If you have an external hard drive that's formatted in NTFS, you can use the Disk Management utility in Windows to reformat the drive, but you'll need to create partitions on large external hard drives because Windows can only do FAT32 on drives 32GB or smaller.

Save your data using the PS3's backup utility.

If your storage device isn't large enough to handle a full system backup, you can selectively copy data over through the various music, photo, and game menus in the XMB. Your PlayStation Network login and system settings will remain safe on the system during the entire process. After you have your data safely backed up, you can move on to the actual hard-drive swap.

You will need a Phillips-head screwdriver to complete this part of the installation process. The PS3 owner's manual also includes step-by-step details on how to replace the hard drive, in case you need more instructions.

Turn off and unplug the system. Remove the plastic HD side-panel, and remove the blue screw.

Open the metal latch, move the drive tray to the right, and slide out the drive.

Remove the four screws that hold the hard drive to the tray. Use a screwdriver that fits snugly because the screws are extremely tight and easy to strip.

Swap in the new drive, and replace the screws.

Put the drive tray back into the system and slide it into place. Then replace the blue screw and snap the side panel back onto the system.

Turn on the console and let the system format the new drive. Then load up the PS3 backup utility to restore data from your external storage device back onto the PS3 hard drive.

At this point you should have a newly upgraded PS3 and the leftover hard drive. You could try selling the old drive, but small-capacity used drives might not fetch enough money to be worth the hassle of finding a buyer. If you still want to make the drive useful, you can buy an external drive enclosure to make it into a portable storage device.

Are you ready to upgrade your PlayStation 3 hard drive, or have you already upgraded it? Share your tips or concerns in the comments below!

Discussion

928 comments
gkavin_97
gkavin_97

i bought the ps3 12gb in india. can i change the hard disk from 12 to 500 or higher. where can i buy the new hard drive and what is the procedure


capper1970
capper1970

When I backup my data on a 1TB (fat32) HD about 1/4 of the way through it stops & says unable to recognize USB device. Anybody know whats going on. Sometimes it's 1/4 sometimes it's about 1/2 the way through before it stops. Any help? Please.

Asax32
Asax32

Just put a 500 gb Western Digital HDD in an old school 80 gb PS3. The hardest part about it was finding an 80gb Fat32 external HDD to back everything up to. Used Easus Partition Master Home edition, which worked perfectly, to create a partition on my external drive big enough for the backup utility to store all of the data. It took a couple of hours to backup and a couple more to restore, but I did not have to re-download anything that came from PS Store (as of yet, I am still checking to make sure they all work). Just had to Sync my Trophies with the server.

Dbwarrior01
Dbwarrior01

If i have two ps3 system under same user id. will my trophies displayed in both system?

Pyxidium
Pyxidium

@B4RN35 If I put all of my existing files from my external HDD onto my computer, then format it to FAT32, back up all my ps3 data onto it then use it to restore the new HDD can I then put the old files that were on the external HDD back onto it while it's formatted to FAT32? Also, can this work on macs (the formatting I mean).

Pyxidium
Pyxidium

@B4RN35 If I put all of my existing files from my external HDD onto my computer, then format it to FAT32, back up all my ps3 data onto it then use it to restore the new HDD can I then put the old files that were on the external HDD back onto it while it's formatted to FAT32? Also, can this work on macs (the formatting I mean).

Pyxidium
Pyxidium

I need to replace my HDD asap. I have no memory left and I'll be screwed this holiday season. I already bought a new HDD (Seagate 320 GB 7200 RPM 2.5") and now I need to replace my current HDD. I really don't know what would be more practical and economical: buying an external HDD and re-formatting it or buying several expensive thumb drives and backing up all my data. Also, do I need to re-format the new HDD I'm putting in my PS3?

AL2D2
AL2D2

Hello, I purchase a new 320gb hard drive Seagate Momentus LP Sata 5400rpm and installed it on my PS3. But after formatting it only said that I had 264 free of 298. Can someone explain why and what happen to the other 56gb? Thank you and await any reply.

ebon_hawk
ebon_hawk

I believe my questions have been answered but doesn't hurt to be safe. I'm using a buddy's PS3 to just transfer my data before I switch out my HDD, would the system reset suggested by HuntingWolf193 still work?

HuntingWolf193
HuntingWolf193

@Tekarukite Agreed. This guide tells you how to swap out the hard drive. That's it. It mentions NOTHING on how to actually restore the PS3 operating system. For anyone else trying to follow the guide: when you have plugged in and switch on the PS3 with the new hard drive, you'll get an error "Cannot start: the correct hard disk was not found". This is normal. You have to manually reinstall the software, which is something this guide failed to mention. You have the hold down the Power button until it beeps twice - this resets the play station. It will then tell you to plug in the controller, hit the PS button, then press both select and start at the same time. You'll reformat the system. Make sure you have the latest firmware downloaded and ready to go on portable storage such as a USB flash drive - once the PS3's done its thing it will ask you for the latest firmware. Then your hard drive will finally be ready and you can transfer your backed up files and settings over then. Well done Gamespot for leaving that step out.

Tekarukite
Tekarukite

I put in my new harddrive and the PS3 doesn't recognize it. I did all the other steps, back up utility, everything. OK after some searching, here's what I did: I went to the PlayStation website and downloaded the latest PS3 update (3.72 I believe). I had to make sure I had a USB drive with a PS3 folder on it (I just used the same device I was going to use to restore the data from the previous hard drive) and put that update in that folder. (There's instructions on the PS website to make the right folders with the right names.) After all that, I started up my PS3 again, this time it told me to hold start and select at the same time. Then it re-formatted the new hard drive. THEN it asked me to do a system update, which it found on the USB drive. THEN it set up the PS3 as if I never had one before. after that, I went to the backup utility option and FINALLY hit 'restore' and it found the USB device and is now restoring my PS3. so yeah, these 'how to' guides are full of CRAP!

shadow580
shadow580

@ldu97177 late post but, backing up everything at once requires you to have a clean drive. I also had a 250 GB drive that took some time emptying before I could use it for this purpose. Backing up things individually can take some time and hassle, depending on how many things you have on your PS3. I remember the last time I backed up my saved games manually and that almost killed me, I had so many.

ldu97177
ldu97177

Does changing an external drive to FAT32 remove everything from that drive? The only external drive I have is 250GB, but has lots of photos, music etc on it. Would I be better just manually copying my games saves and game data onto that rather than using the the Backup option?

NYTed
NYTed

@ GredegHeado-san Thanks for the info on the "FAT32FORMAT" utility. It works great, I am placing it in my toolkit.

DeathProofDelta
DeathProofDelta

Gonna try this out today, iv filled the last of my 60gb with the free games!!!

demon24123
demon24123

naf1402.... to format your new hdd to fat32 (ps3 compatible) you need to download a software called EASEUS Partition Master. Plug in your hdd, it will read it, then right click on it and select "add partition>FAT32" then hit the arrow in the upper left hand corner and it will execute your request

harkje
harkje

I wonder how the cross media bar operating system come/gets on the new harddrive? The operating system lays on the harddrive.

naf1402
naf1402

thanx for the nice guide but i have one small Q when i get the internal HDD do i have to format it to FAT32???? or i just put it in and PS3 will do the rest ??

Willy-Wilks_777
Willy-Wilks_777

Can I use an external hard drive to save all of my game files and load them from that? Or is it only HDD? I just bought a 1000gb portable hard drive and I am wondering if you can automatically install games, save DLC and being able to play the DLC that wasn't saved directly to the ps3? Thanks

live2ride204
live2ride204

I did this the other night cause I was tired of deleting stuff every time I got a new game. I upgrade to a 500gig no problems. The only thing that sucked is I use my external HD to back up my laptop so I had to move those files to my laptop and wipe it clean so I could format the external HD to the Fat32, just time consuming since I had 60gigs worth of stuff to swap back and forth. Other than that pretty simple, thanks to this article and the postings below.

Ninetyninth
Ninetyninth

if i went up to 500gb does it affect performance?

NodakJo2010
NodakJo2010

Quick Question...I know it doesn't work from going old to new...(in terms of switching ps3 HDDs) But say I want a 60Gig that plays ps2 games...So say Could I take my 120 GB HDD out of my Slim and put it in a fat and have it work?

ksig235
ksig235

Did this last night. Worked great. Images were slightly different, but nothing outragous. The only thing that is not on here is that I needed a copy of the latest update to format hard drive. This is a must for anyone running out of space.

GameVortex
GameVortex

@drifted_ashore This is because manufacturers advertise a gigabyte as something different than what windows or the PS3 recognize. Manufacturers see a gigabyte (GB) as 1000 megabytes, and 1 megabyte (MB) as 1000 kilobytes (KB), when in actuality windows sees 1 MB as 1024 KB. So that's where the unaccounted lost space goes. Or you can think of it this way: The drive itself has to have some sort of data already on it in order for it to run itself and perform operations, such as saving data. Hope this cleared things up!

Mallavain
Mallavain

Burn: No you can't swap out hard drives, they are married to the motherboard. If you were to try it the new system would just try to format the old drive when you put it in. I've had mine professionally fixed twice now and they say that it won't stay fixed if it hasn't already... Luckily they are going to repair it one more time so we can back it up, then I'm sending it into Sony.

BurntLimits
BurntLimits

Can someone send me a message and tell me if this idea will work... Would be greatly appreciated... My system just got the dreaded YLOD... I am planning on buying a new 320g Slim PS3, and was wondering. Can I swap the drive from my old ps3 into the new one and use the new system to back up everything, before re-installing the new 320g hdd, and install the back up? Please message me and let me know, I'm desperate to keep my info.. And I know the YLOD is cause by hardware and nothing to do with the HDD, so it is still functional and contains my info...

SavageEvil
SavageEvil

Just use Easeus partitioning program, it can format any size drive up to 4 TB in FAT32, in fact I did that just last night to my external 1TB HDD in preparation to swap out my 160Gig for a 500Gig. This program is incredibly fast and it's free and it does a whole host of other things that you may find very useful for windows too.

drifted_ashore
drifted_ashore

I just upgraded my 60gb ps3 to a 500gb seagate but ended up with 40gb of extra data? 54/55 => 367/465 which should only be 411/465. Did anyone else have this problem?

adamwan
adamwan

for those of you wondering how to partition an external to larger than the 32GB cap for fat32, most external drives have partitioning software that you can download to make the partition larger than 32GB. Go to your drive manufacturer's main website and take a look around.

Wolfhunter5961
Wolfhunter5961

Is there a limit as to the size of the GB for the new internal hard drive you put in? What I mean is, what is the optimum size for putting in the old 60GB machine? 250, or can I go all the way to a 1TB if I wanted to?

Irvinraw
Irvinraw

Thanks Voyd2k for correcting me. I'll try it in the next few days. I tried the swissknife utility but it didn't work for me. I haven't been able to play DC Universe Online since I did not have enough free space to install the updates. Sucks!!

Battlefield53
Battlefield53

I wan't to upgrade to a Pine 7200rpm 500gb internal hard drive but I dont want to spend the extra money to buy a external hard drive that I'll only use once to back up my utillity. I have a san disk u3 cruzer 4gb flash drive (which is FAT32 supported) that I copied all of my save files on to. I dont have, or know anyone who has a big enough flashdrive to backup my utility on to, nor do I want to buy one. Will I be able to retrieve them if I copy the save files from the flash drive on to the new hard drive? How do I save my trophies? How can I save my user accounts? Can I only use backup utility or is this a good alternative? I would like to know before I go out and buy the drive. thanx!

Irvinraw
Irvinraw

I'm assuming you can do the upgrade without backing up. Is this right? Take out the old drive, put in the new drive, place the old drive in an external hard drive enclosure, and update the new drive with the old drive. Ready to upgrade. Having problems formatting an old 80gb external drive with FAT32 since it's larger than 32gb. Do not want to partition the drive.

TrueProphecy22
TrueProphecy22

You need to follow the directions found on Sony's support site here: http://us.playstation.com/support/answer/index.htm?a_id=1189 Download the system software update (found on that page) onto a separate flash drive under the folders : PS3\UPDATE. Restart your PS3 with the flash drive inserted, press START and SELECT at the same time, and follow the onscreen directions. And I certainly hope you didn't pay 500$ for a ~70$ Western Digital Scorpio Blue with 500Gb of memory.

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

It didn't work for me. I bought external HDD to swap with my old one. I backed up my data to my PSP since it's also FAT32 format. But when I swapped the HDD and trying to restore data from my PSP, I couldn't do it. It said it couldn't find system update software from version 3.55 or later, but it should be acked up on my PSP already! What's wrong with that!? :( Or do I need to format my new HDD to FAT32 before swap it into my PS3? Crap! I'll need to waste my money on external HDD enclosure too! :(

osima1503
osima1503

you can format any external hard-drive up to 2Tb to FAT32, by doing it through DOS 1. Go to ‘run’ from the start button and type ‘cmd’ to bring up the command window. 2. Type this in the command line: format (Drive letter): /FS:FAT32 just make sure that you dont put in C for your drive letter

B4RN35
B4RN35

@Pyxidium Ideally, you need an external one, I borrowed mine from a friend. It needs to be large enough, but it also needs to be Fat32 formatted. This can be annoying, since Windows doesn't do Fat32 larger than 32GB, so if I were you, I would use Easus Partition Manager to format it; if you do format it, the data on it will be lost, so back that up as well. If it is already Fat32, then you can back up the PS3 straight away and no data will be lost. There is one way, I believe, of doing it without an external hard drive, but I have not tried this, although my way was probably half way between the two. If you buy a hard drive enclosure, put the new hard drive in and plug it into your pc, you can format it and back up onto that. Then, once you have backed up, you can copy it onto your pc. Then replace the hard drive. Then format the old hard drive and copy the back up onto that, then use it to restore it.

ian69harrison
ian69harrison

JUST installed my 500G hard drive and could NOT have been easier!!! The stupid FAT 32 back up was the most frustrating thing and I had to delete my music and some old game saves but other than that, easy peasy Japanesey ! ! ! Both down and up loads took about 45 minutes. Swaping drives took 2 =)

Pyxidium
Pyxidium

I want to upgrade my 80 GB ps3, but I need a hard drive and apparently an external one too. I'm all set with what kind of HDD to get, but what kind of external should I get? Do I even need an external one or can I use my PC? I'm just really confused and I don't want to have to spend 80 bucks on an external HDD if I'm only gonna use it once.

Kleeyook
Kleeyook

I plan to get Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB SATA 2.5" (5400RPM / 8MB Cache) since it's only $500 and $250 cheaper than 640GB model. 750GB and 1TB are 12.4 mm high unlike smaller models that are 9.5 mm high so they won't fit into the PS3 HDD tray. I'm in dire need for a new HDD because my 80GB won't keep up with all the stuffs in my HDD anyway (GT5 installation is around 10GB or so I heard, and I only have 10GB left). :(

splinter_girl88
splinter_girl88

@cyberdejin - You're welcome :) Good luck with the upgrading.

Fred5107
Fred5107

@codewhitedragon Those Xbox 360 fanboys are pitiful, aren't they? They never do learn.

Fred5107
Fred5107

This really helps people who go off and spend their memory.

cyberdejin
cyberdejin

@splinter_girl88 - Thank you verymuch for your kind reply. I guess it is the best choice to go for a 250GB ( 5400rpm) one. This capacity should be more than enough I guess. Thank you again.

cyberdejin
cyberdejin

Good people of gamespot ! Please help me. Should I pick a 7200 or 5400 rpm hardisc for best result ? Can I go for 500 GB instead of 250 ? Thanks for your support.

blaqphantom
blaqphantom

thanks for this guide, ive been meaning to do this for ages but thought it would be hard, this seems relatively easy. now i won't have to keep on deleteing data from phat 80g ps3 :P

l0ne_wanderer
l0ne_wanderer

@gkavin_97 You will need a mounting bracket (caddy). Any laptop hard drive will do. The main problem is getting a mounting bracket which isn't available in most sony showrooms.