This is something I have done twice now and I thought I'd share my experiences. There are lots of other guides to doing this online and they are pretty good - it's how I managed to do it the first time - but they often omit a couple of bits of information which might pose problems if you don't quite know how to handle them.
Upgrading the PS3 hard drive brings with it a number of benefits, especially if you own a lot of games, and also if you use your Playstation as a media centre for photos, movies and music. Don't forget that you can partition the drive and install Linux on the Playstation too. My original 40gb drive was almost full after 6 months and the 80gb replacement I first installed was full within 12 months.
This process should not invalidate the warranty.
What you will need
- New internal hard drive - this will be the drive that you are going to put in the PS3
- External hard drive - this will be the drive that you use to backup the original hard drive (game data, saves, media files, etc)
- USB flash drive - this will be used to install the Playstation firmware (currently v2.70 as I write this guide which comes in at 142.5mb)
- Phillips head screwdriver - for removing the drive
- PS3 controller and USB cable
This is quite important but shouldn't pose too many problems. Not every drive will fit in the PS3 so make sure you check the following:
- SATA - the drive must have a Serial ATA interface, not the older IDE or ATA formats. You should be able to pick-up a good quality 250gb Western Digital or Seagate drive for around £45 from ebuyer. Larger capacity drives are a little more expensive but still affordable.
- 2.5" - the drive should be 2.5" in width, typical for laptops. If you have an old laptop drive then you could use this (I pulled a 250gb drive out of my Macbook to dump in the PS3)
- 9.5mm - this is the correct height for the PS3 and also is typical. However, there are some thinner and larger drives on the market so watch out.
- 5400 RPM - there are drives that spin slightly faster at 7200 RPM but they are more expensive and I've seen rumours online that they may overheat for the tiny speed advantage you may get. I can't vouch for that rumour as I've never installed a 7200 RPM drive.
Now that you have sourced a new drive and have all the material listed above, the first thing you need to do is backup the content on the PS3 to a removable USB hard drive. I've found that it helps if you the drive you are using as backup is already formatted in the FAT32 file format and that it has enough free space to take the contents of the internal PS3 drive. You can convert your drive using Disk Utility (Mac) or Disk Management (Windows), or even just create a partition on the external drive large enough to accommodate the PS3 content.
Once you are sure you have you FAT32 formatted drive ready, connect the USB hard drive to the PS3 and the system software will automatically recognize the external USB hard drive, allowing you to copy the contents.
Unlike Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony have made it very easy for PS3 owners to upgrade their drives cheaply without having to buy official products. You can get twice the space for about half the cost. They've also included some useful software to accommodate the migration process. Your system settings and your PSN info are stored in the PS3's internal flash memory so all we need to consider are the games, games saves, photos, trailers, music, etc.
You have two options here: a full backup or a partial manual backup. I'm going to lead you through the former.
On the XMB (Cross Media Bar) select System Settings, then Backup Utility. Choose the Backup option when asked and finally select your external drive. If you already have a large internal drive of, say 80gb, then this might take a while - my PS3 told me it would take 1 hour 39 minutes.
Now that the data is backed up we are going to need to open the PS3 to take the hard drive out. First of all you will need to completely power down the PS3 and disconnect all connections (HDMI, power cable, USB, etc) so that no charge remains. It is advisable to wait about 10 minutes to let the machine cool down too. Take the machine to a flat clean work surface and stand it on the side with the cooling vent (with the stand by switch) so that you can see the hard drive access panel (it should have a sticker on it). Pop this panel off with your fingernails or a screwdriver. The Playstation owners manual even contains details about this process.
Unscrew the blue screw. Pull the metal handle and the drive tray will pop out. Now, there are four small screws keeping the hard drive in the tray. Now these are cheap and will strip if you force them with an inappropriate screwdriver so use the right tool. Sony will send you a new tray and screws if you do this but your old drive will be stuck (ideally you want to be able to get the old drive and make a portable drive out of it).
Swap the old drive for your new hard drive (label side up) and screw everything back in and plug the PS3 back in.
When you turn the power on you will be asked to connect a controller using a USB cable and press the PS button. At this point you will get a message saying the following:
The system software cannot be run correctly. Press the PS button to try to restart the system.NOTE: Most sites offering upgrade advise skip this section, hence my post so pay heed to the following section
If the system cannot be restarted, the system partition of the hard disk must be reformatted and you must reinstall the system software.
Insert storage media that contains update date of version 2.70 or later, and then press the START and SELECT buttons as the same time.
For information on how to obtain update data, refer to the SCE Web site for your region.
If you do press the PS button you will end up in a feedback look unless you connect a USB drive with the v2.70 firmware to the PS3. You can't just copy the file over to the USB drive. That would be too easy. No, you must create a folder on the USB stick called PS3 and then another folder in that called UPDATE and place the firmware file in there in order for the PS3 to read it. Do this now and press START and SELECT.
If you don't create the USB directory exactly like that, you will get the following message:
No applicable update data was found.Now that you've done that, and followed the onscreen instructions to format the new drive (we want to do this) we can start the next long part of the process.
Insert storage media that contains update data of version 2.70 or later, and then press the START and SELECT buttons at the same time.
Most likely your PS3 asked you to agree to installing the new firmware, and then it automatically restarted itself when you agreed to the terms and conditions. Select your language of choice. If you have an HDMI connection the PS3 will detect it automatically and ask you to switch to the optimal settings - agree to this.
Select a time zone; set the date and time; add your preferred user name before entering the Internet Connection Settings. Work your way through the configuration screens. Eventually you will be able to get to the XMB. Plug-in your external drive with the back-up data, then head over to System Settings, then Backup Utility. Choose Restore when asked and finally select the device you backed everything up to. This is the second major time killer moment as the data gets restored. Restoring my 80gb drive worth of data took 1 hour 39 minutes.
After all that, your PS3 should be ready for business. You can even go on to install Linux if you want but I'm not going to cover that in this post. I might do that later, but it requires another reformat and a bit of time. If you want to do this then make sure you backup your new install first or keep that drive you copied somewhere safe. You could even use the old drive as a backup resource. However, you will need to ensure all game saves or new data are copied manually.
All should be well. Most guides advise you to keep your old drive somewhere safe in case you have any problems in the future. You can do that but if you are out of the warranty you could always buy a hard drive caddy and turn your old drive into a portable drive. Caddies are cheap at about the £6 mark from most computer shops.
The original 40gb drive I took out of my PS3 was a Seagate drive and it stated on the sticker that you shouldn't put the drive in another laptop. It doesn't say anything about caddies.