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.

Difficulty: Basic
Tools:

  • 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

Official Disclaimer:
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.

ps3drive_embed002

Step 2: Using the Backup Utility

  1. Connect your storage device to the system
  2. Navigate the XMB to System Settings > Backup Utility
  3. 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:

  1. Navigate to it using the XMB
  2. Press the Triangle button. (This will show you your options)
  3. Select “Copy” and then select the attached storage device as the destination. The file should then copy to the attached device.
  4. 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.

ps3drive_embed008

Step 5: Restoring Data from Backup using the Utility
Restoring information from your external storage device using the Backup Utility is also pretty simple.

  1. Connect your storage device
  2. Navigate the XMB to System Settings > Backup Utility
  3. 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.

  1. Insert the external storage device
  2. Navigate to the device using the XMB in the various categories (Videos, Music, Games, etc.)
  3. Select the file you want to copy
  4. Press the Triangle button
  5. Select the PS3 hard drive as the destination
  6. Repeat for each file you want to restore

Closing
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.

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15 Comments on How to Backup Your PS3 Hard Drive and Save Games

ken

On August 9, 2011 at 5:10 am

willps3read two hard can you change at bootup

Jerry

On January 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I have a 60gig ps3 phat and I want to upgrade to a new hard drive on the same system. But, I have copy protected game save files. I really don’t want to lose any of them because of my progession in Dead Island, BF3, just to name a few. I have backed up manually saves that I could. If I do a system backup utility on my external hard drive, replace the ps3 hard drive, then restore the data to the new upgraded hard drive, will I lose my copy protected game saves? I have been researching all week, called sony and I keep getting yes and no answers. I need to find the real answer. the big YES or the sorry NO. Please help me out here, thank you.

Jerry

On January 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Seriously, I have not found a straight answer. Also if I “can” do this. Do I need to delete the saves I have on my external hard drive that I have already backed up before doing a backup utility to my external hard drive? Really sucks that alot of good games out now have save files copy protected.

Pearce

On January 18, 2012 at 8:35 am

heres my story … my parents don’t like me playing games upstairs but i started my game dark souls up there(those file are copy prohibited) so i want to move the saved file onto my usb stick to move to my ps3 downstairs..
is it possible
is there another way to selectively move my file to the other ps3

Dan

On January 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

@Jerry

When I upgraded the HDD in my 80GB PS3 I used the backup feature and it worked for all of my saved games including the locked ones.

Jarno

On April 28, 2012 at 7:43 am

Hi,
Thx for your tutorial.

I have purchased a USB 500GB external harddisk to backup my PS3 because I was afraid my kids would lose all their data and “belongings” on Skyrim and GT5.

I was advised to format my HD to the FAT32 format, which allegedly could be done from my Mac.
When I connected the HD to my Mac, a formatting utility embeddde in the HD started and suggested either a 100% Mac formatting, or a partition with a 32GB (maximum) area formatted FAT32 for PC use, and the remainder of the HD’s capacity formatted for Mac.

I did that, but when I plugged my HD on the PS3, and started the PS3′s backup utility, it said it needed an additional 21GB storage area to carry out the backup.

So I manually formatted my whole HD to the FAT format, but when I plugged it again, the PS3′s backup utility stalled for a while at 0%, and then “said” backup was impossible (800283E1 or something like this)

I thought it was because the PS3 could not manage a capacity above 32GB, so I partitionned my HD into three 32GB FAT32 areas and 1 Mac area.

When I plugged it to the PS3, the backup utility apparently was not able to “see” the three available areas, and again “said” there was not enough room on my HD…

Any suggestion to backup approximately 50GB of data from my PS3 to an external storage device?

Many thanks

Jarno

andre

On July 8, 2012 at 9:07 am

What was the screwdriver for?

Karl

On September 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm

@ andre..

if you lose power during backup and stuff goes irreversibly corrupt you should probably just blame someone else and proceed to stab them in the back of the neck.

Adam

On January 31, 2013 at 5:36 am

Hey, Jarno.

In the event you are still having problems, I have some suggestions. One thing I should note is that I use a PC, so if there is any information I give you that isn’t completely compatible in your case, you’ll need to adjust to meet your needs.

First, you’ll need to download a FAT32 formatting tool (I used Fat32Formatter). It is freeware, written by TOKIWA and is used to format a drive to FAT32 larger than 32GB. This means it can walk around the OS restriction which limit the format size to only 32GB on Windows2000/XP/Vista/7. One reason for choosing this specific program (rather than any of the multiple others offered for download) is the easy-to-understand GUI.

This first step in partitioning the drive may be overkill, but it is the way I chose to do it:
Because the external HDD I used was brand-new and pre-formatted to NTFS, I deleted the entire partition to essentially bring it to one full TB of unallocated space. This gave me a clean slate to work with.

Now, prepare your external drive by making necessary partitions. In my case, I created four of them. The first two partitions are for my two computers’ image backups (NTFS), the third is just a partition for various files so I can share pictures and home movies with my family/friends (NTFS), and the forth partition is for the PS3 (FAT32). I created the first three partitions using Windows’ built in disk management utility (diskmgmt.msc), making sure I left enough unallocated disk space to create the PS3′s partition. Then, using Fat32Formatter, I created the last partition – the FAT32 partition – with the remaining disk space I left unallocated from earlier.

After Fat32Formatter successfully formats the partition, a Windows dialogue box will pop up asking you to format the drive. DO NOT ACCEPT THIS FORMAT! Windows is asking you to format the FAT32 partition you just created back to NTFS. Just close or cancel the dialogue box that Windows displays.

Now, you have one external HDD that can serve multiple purposes in various formats. Good luck!

Clint

On March 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I know this thread is largely dead, but here’s hoping someone stumbles on by who can help…

I actually initiated the backup just fine, and got about 40% done before the PS3 just stopped and said the drive couldn’t be recognized, or something to that effect. I have an old (3 years ish) 320GB Seagate external formatted in FAT32, so it should be just fine, right? Any ideas on what happened or why it stopped? I mostly just care about saved game data, as I don’t have any other media on it. In short, when my first-gen fat PS3 inevitably tanks, what steps do I need to take to ensure I can hop right back into Skyrim on the replacement PS3 without skipping a beat?

Are other backup methods viable? PS+ perhaps? Has anyone encountered this problem before, and/or any ideas how to get my HD to work?

Thanks, and sorry for my ineptitude!

Sean

On June 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Here is an article to back up music on the ps3

Bernardo

On August 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

Hi,
I am with a big issue…. first of all: I have the PS3 phat, and it’s built in 160GB. It’s already full and I barely able to download anything. I deleted all the songs etc.
I already bought the 1TB HDD for it. But before substitute the HD, I need to save my game data.
I tried already two external Hard Drives to back it up and save the information on my PS3. I tried one Seagate 1TB portable with just the usb cable, it light up but the PS3 doens’t reconizes. The second which I tested was one Sony of 500GB which is compatible with PS3, but it never read it. Just lighted up.
I even tried one small pen drivre/flash drive of 8GB but it was asked for more at least 120GB to make the back up.
I still want to upgrade what should I do?

Mark Stevens

On February 2, 2014 at 5:21 am

This article fails to deal with the critical challenges associated with the full backup utility.

1. It casually mentions you need a usb hard drive formatted as fat32 – the PS3 wont even format the drive in this standard for you and neither will windows. You need to locate and download a third party windows utility to do that – why on earth dont you mention this critical information ?
2. You dont mention anything about the time it takes to back. I have a 320G PS3 and it says that it will take 24 hours just to backup !!!

Do you skate over the major considerations in your other articles too ?

Malachai Nox

On May 22, 2014 at 11:11 am

@Mark Stevens

1. He need not tell you windows cannot format to fat32. Windows CAN format to that without any extra software. It’s done in the command prompt with ease. I’ve done it countless times before I got myself a mac. Take 20 seconds and try looking it up. I’ll wait.

2. This a how to guide. Not a “it will take this long guide”. Again, go ahead and take 20 second to look that up too.

Perhaps instead of griping about the info you think is missing you could take a tenth of the time it took you to type that all out and thank the author for spending their valuable time explaining it to you in the first place.

Thank you for the info author. I’m updating my “phat ps3″ to 1tb and find this info very helpful.

telvin

On October 20, 2014 at 6:54 am

i’m having a problem with my playstation3. It shuts down some minutes after switching it on. Its really frustrating. what can I do about it?