How to Backup Your PS3 Hard Drive and Save Games
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Thanks to Sony’s “Do Everything” console, hard drive space is at a premium as even 120Gb can fill quickly with PlayStation Network purchases and large game installation files. This process is also great insurance in case you ever need to send your PS3 in for repair since Sony will wipe out your stored content.
There are a few solutions to this storage crisis – delete your old games or movies (meaning you either start over or have to survive really long downloads) or use an external media device to back them up. Luckily Sony includes a handy backup utility right on your console and even offers a way to pick and choose what contents you want to move off the local storage.
This how to will walk you through both the automated backup and the manual process. If you’re considering upgrading to a larger hard drive this is also a necessary step if you want to keep your data.
- USB Mass Storage Device (external hard drive or thumb drive)
- Phillips screwdriver
- Sony PS3 controller
- USB cable
Time to Install: 15-30 minutes
Table of Contents
- Step 1: Preparations
- Step 2: Using the Backup Utility
- Step 3: Performing a Selective/Manual Backup
- Step 4: Verifying your Backup
- Step 5: Restoring Data from Backup using the Utility
- Step 6: Manually Restoring Data
There is really very little risk associated with this process however you can lose or corrupt data if the PS3 loses power during this transfer so be sure not to turn off the PS3 system until you have completed the backup and verified that the data has been backed up.
Step 1: Preparations
Before beginning you will need to make sure you have a sizable back up medium (A large USB connected hard drive or flash drive). You should ensure the device has available storage space on it as well. Realize also that the backup utility will not restore any copyright material such as purchased videos or games to another PS3. You will need to plan to re-download these files in the case of a future PS3 hardware failure.
Also trophy information not associated with a PlayStation Network (PSN) account cannot be backed up. It is recommended you create a PSN account for all the users on your system to allow synchronization of the trophy data.
The storage device you are using to archive your system must be formatted to the Fat32 format, NTFS and other file formats are not recognized by the Sony PS3.
- Connect your storage device to the system
- Navigate the XMB to System Settings > Backup Utility
- Choose Backup from the list of options and the PS3 will attempt to copy all the data on your current hard drive automatically.
This process does not allow a selective back up so everything available for transfer will be moved. It is recommended that you use this method with large external storage solutions like a hard drive instead of smaller Flash drives. This backup will not create individual files so if you want to be able to access one specific file or transfer one file to another PS3 you should use the manual method listed below.
If the device does not have sufficient space the backup will fail.
The data stored on your backup device will be located in the automatically created [PS3] – [EXPORT] – [BACKUP] folder. If you choose to move or rename data or these folders you may not be able to restore your saved information in the future so it’s best to leave it alone.
Step 3: Performing a Selective/Manual Backup
The second and far less time-efficient way to back up your saved games, movies, music, etc. from your PS3 is to manually copy the files off onto your attached storage device. This is most useful when you want to archive specific saved games to free up space or make sure they are not deleted or overwritten by anyone.
It is possible to back up protected media content as well however restoration of these files is more problematic. Sony also recommends this method as a failsafe in case you are unable to use the Backup utility to restore important information from a system.
To manually back up a file:
- Navigate to it using the XMB
- Press the Triangle button. (This will show you your options)
- Select “Copy” and then select the attached storage device as the destination. The file should then copy to the attached device.
- Repeat this process for every file you wish to manually back up.
Step 4: Verifying your Backup
Verifying your data is an important part of executing a backup. The last thing you want is to find yourself needing the data and discovering it is not readable or incomplete. Once you have backed up your system however there is no easy way to verify it without doing a restore unless you have another PS3.
This means that for absolutely critical save games you should probably also execute a manual backup of information to an external storage device.
Step 5: Restoring Data from Backup using the Utility
Restoring information from your external storage device using the Backup Utility is also pretty simple.
- Connect your storage device
- Navigate the XMB to System Settings > Backup Utility
- Choose Restore
This should copy your saved data back to the PS3 hard drive. If you are restoring to a new PS3 your protected movies, games and music will not transfer. You will need to download these files from the PSN service after activating the new hardware under your name.
Step 6: Manually Restoring Data
Manually restoring saved data is simply the reverse of the original process.
- Insert the external storage device
- Navigate to the device using the XMB in the various categories (Videos, Music, Games, etc.)
- Select the file you want to copy
- Press the Triangle button
- Select the PS3 hard drive as the destination
- Repeat for each file you want to restore
Backing up the data on your PS3 really is a good precaution, especially if you have an aging “PS3 Phat” or plan to upgrade to a larger internal PS3 hard drive. Upgrading to a larger hard drive is a simple process that we will walk through in the next “Hardware How to” so you’ll want to reference back to this article to perform your data backup and recovery.