Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Playstation 3 Hard Drive Upgrade Experience (Tips and Tricks included)

It turns out we have this spare laptop HDD lying around the house (dated 2006!) which is compatible with our newly purchased PS3. It's an 80GB Hitachi Laptop SATA drive. The space isn't much by today's standards, but compared to the 40GB that's already being eaten away by the PS3's constant patching and game installations, we thought that putting the old 80GB drive into the PS3 was a viable option.

At first, I thought that the installation of a new hard drive to the PS3 might be complicated, but I found out that it wasn't. I watched this video on Youtube and was surprised (actually, AMAZED) at how easy it is to put in a new hard drive for the PS3:



I was even more amazed at the fact that I could just use *any* laptop SATA drive available in most computer stores locally, to upgrade this PS3's hard drive; it was just so convenient, and inexpensive :)

So I eagerly opened the PS3's HDD Drive bay. Our PS3 is a newer model than the one in the video, so the insides of the HDD bay was a little different from what is shown in the video. I was initially daunted but when I actually got around to getting the drive out, it was really, really simple, and I think the newer PS3 that we have provides an even easier (note: more idiot-proof!) method for replacing the HDD. It doesn't have that metal tab that you have to pull up and slide to the right. Instead, you remove the blue screw, raise the thing held down by the screw, and there you have it....the HDD is easily removed.

Don't forget to back up all your game saves! We had a game save of Little Big Planet already in progress in the HDD. For some reason, when I used the backup utility in the PS3, it was saying I needed 2 GB of space in my flash drive to back up my data. I simply selected every single game in the GAME - Saved Data menu and selected the option to copy each save to my flash drive. That way, I'm able to individually select the files that I really needed (my LBP saves). The other stuff must have been game patches, or installation files from the other games on the system.

Anyway, going back to this whole HDD upgrade experience, we encountered a problem after installing the hard drive where the PS3 would look for the system update on the drive. If you're changing hard drives AFTER downloading update 2.53, don't forget to download the PS3's latest patch on the Playstation website. Since our PS3 is Asian, I got the update from here:
http://asia.playstation.com/hk/en/support/p/updateMethod_PS3 .

I remember reading a long time ago that you have to be careful with PS3 updates; if you've got a US PS3, get the US update. If you've got an Asian PS3, get the Asian update.

Now, after getting the update, I followed the onscreen instructions on the PS3, while the PS3 2.53 update was on a 1GB flash drive that I had. I was able to format the 80GB drive (although there was a slight glitch where the system didn't see my flash drive. I simply pulled out the flash drive, put it back in, and then the PS3 detected it again). A few minutes later, I had the new 80 GB drive working again! I was surprised at how relatively simple (and painless) the whole process was.

Now I had a spare laptop drive (40GB) which I got from the PS3 itself. I bought an enclosure from CDR-King in SM Megamall (220 pesos only) and put the drive in there. At first, I formatted the drive in Windows Vista, so I ended up getting a drive with NTFS. The PS3 couldn't find my new portable drive, and after doing a bit of research (Google is really useful) I found out that the file format for your portable drive had to be Fat32. After even more research I found a way to force-format the portable hard drive to Fat32. Simply use this program named Fat32Format, which I found here:

http://www.softpedia.com/get/System/Hard-Disk-Utils/FAT32format.shtml

Follow the instructions on the page to format your drive. This should give you a drive that's compatible with both your PS3 and your Windows-based PC (and other platforms).

To test the connectivity of the PS3 with my new portable drive, I copied a video, which was in DivX format, to the HDD. I was able to play the video by choosing the portable device in 'Videos' on the PS3, and then pressing Triangle to show all the files on the drive. I chose the DivX file, and then, it played successfully.

Not only do I get an upgraded hard drive on my PS3; I also get a spare one for storing other files and streaming them (via the PS3) to my HDTV. Nice, nifty, and useful :)

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