DIY: Backup and Upgrade of PS3 HDD

I recently upgraded my PS3’s “Fat” model HDD and I wrote this guide on how to do it yourself.

I have this Western Digital 500G External Hard-drive that I was going to use for backup which was partitioned to be used as a mixed Linux and Windows device with multiple partitions. This caused some major pain because the PS3 only supports FAT16 or FAT32 file-systems. Not only that, it seems to be picky when it comes to what partition to actually use. More on that later.

Except for the problems with my external drive, this was a really easy operation. It’s done in these simple steps which are described in detail in this article:

  • Perform system backup
  • Replace HDD
  • Formatting and installation of  operating system
  • Perform system restore


The PS3 Backup Utility will save all your data (including downloads, updates etc.) excluding protected DRM content (Videos mostly)

  • You’ll need a USB (Charging) cable for the PS3 Controller (Bluetooth is disabled in recovery mode)
  • Get a new SATA 2.5″ HDD (Size, Manufacturer, Speed, etc. does not matter)
  • Get a USB-stick with at least 512M of free space (FAT32 Formatted)
  • Download the latest PS3 Firmware
  • Create a directory called “PS3” with the sub-directory “UPDATE” on the USB-stick and copy the downloaded update file into the latter directory

Prepare and Check external backup drive

If you already have an external drive with a primary partition formatted to FAT32 (with enough space), you can skip this section.

Now this is where I encountered some problems, because of the partition table and filesystem types (FAT32, NTFS and EXT). The only way to back up your data is to have a FAT32 partition available (mine was full).

So I removed the last partition on the drive and formatted it as FAT32. This did not work well, because it seems the PS3 uses the first partition found with a valid filesystem.

After some experimenting I found that if i created an Extended partition, with a Logical partition formatted to FAT32 with the flag BOOT, then created the directories PS3 -> EXPORT -> BACKUP it was successfully detected.

NOTE: I think the PS3 system will always detect the last Logical extended partition as long as it has the BOOT flag.

NOTE: I used GParted for partitioning the drive

Backup your data

Sync your trophy information (If you have a PSN account)!

Back-up the rest of your system via the XMB System Settings Menu.

Make sure you have enough space on the external drive before continuing.

Install new harddrive

There are many guides on how to do this already, but here is a small howto (for the “fat” model):

  • Power off and unplug PS3
  • Remove the plastic lid on the right side with a wide flat screw-driver (My thumb-nail actually did the job here)
  • Remove the screw with a #1 Phillips tip (This is a torqued (soft) screw, be careful)
  • Pull out the drive assembly and remove the four screws on the sides
  • Replace the drive and put it all back into place

Reformatting and Re-install

Hold down the POWER button until you hear two short rapid beeps (preceded by one beep, not the initial power-on beep). This will get you into recovery mode.

Plug in your PS3 Controller with an USB-cable, and insert the USB-stick with the software update.

Now select “Restore PS3 System” from the menu. This will format and install the operating system.

This will take a while (depending on how much data you had stored) and some restarts may occur.

You will be prompted with setup of display, user-account and networking, but none of these really are important since they will be overwritten by the restore procedure.

Restoring Backup

After the installation is complete you can now enter the Backup Utility again from the XMB menu, but now choose the “Restore” option.

This process should take a bit less time than the backup procedure.

And now, you’re done 🙂

NOTE: You should check through the settings just to make sure everything is as it was before the upgrade. Also check the your media and downloaded content. If something is missing you probably have to download/copy it again :/

NOTE: Trophy information is synced from your PSN account

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