How To Upgrade or Replace Your PS3 Hard Drive


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The PS3 is a great gaming platform but it’s also an amazing media server and entertainment system. While the latest models ship with larger hard drives between downloadable HD movies and digital games from PSN it’s not hard to fill up the factory installed storage.

Luckily Sony planned ahead and used off-the-shelf SATA hard drives in its systems, unlike Microsoft, so increasing your storage space is as simple as buying an inexpensive PC hard drive and swapping it into the PS3.

This how to will walk you through the upgrade process. If you’re considering upgrading to a larger hard drive, unless it is a new out of the box PS3 you should also consider a storage solution for backing up your saves and media during the upgrade.

Difficulty: Basic

  • SATA 2.5″ Hard Disk Drive (500Gb or 650GB recommended)
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • USB thumb drive containing PS3 Firmware

Time to Install: 15-30 minutes (not including HD Backup process)

Table of Contents

Official Disclaimer:
There is really very little risk associated with this process. However, you can lose data if you choose not to perform a back up. Additionally, the Trophy information is stored on your system as well as on the PSN, so make sure to synch your trophy status by checking before you begin the upgrade process. This will ensure your trophy information is maintained after the hard drive upgrade and data restore.

Step 1: Preparations
Before beginning you will need to make sure you have a compatible SATA 2.5″ internal hard drive. While there are large 2.5″ hard drives out there, you are most likely to have success if you use a 500GB or 650GB drive. Many 750GB or 1TB drives currently will not work with the PS3.

This process will not require any sensitive electronic work, but it is always a good idea to set aside a static free work space to avoid carpets or other shag/static collecting work surfaces when opening up your PS3.

Step 2: Backup Your PS3 / Download the Latest Firmware
If you are upgrading from a PS3 with information on it like movies or save games it is recommended you perform a backup of the system using the built-in Backup Utility. You can find detailed directions on how to use this program in our “How to Back Up Your PS3 and Save Games” article.

Whether or not you are not backing up a system you will need to have a USB thumb drive containing the latest PS3 firmware handy once the drive upgrade is made. Older/original PS3 systems included a basic restore option in firmware but newer Slimline PS3 units can only be formatted from a backup restore or via a connected USB storage device containing the system firmware.

Using a PC you should download the firmware from this location .

Step 3: Removing the PS3 Hard Drive
The process differs slightly if you are upgrading an original PS3 or a newer Slimline PS3 form factor because the hard drives are located in different places, but it is fundamentally the same.

PS3-old-1To Remove the Original Style PS3 Hard Drive:

  1. Power off your PS3
  2. Unplug the power cable
  3. Remove the plastic side panel
  4. Remove the Blue locking screw
  5. Pull on the metal clip and slowly remove the hard drive from the PS3

PS3-slim-1To remove the Slimline PS3 Hard Drive:

  1. Power off your PS3
  2. Unplug the power cable
  3. Remove the plastic panel on the bottom of the PS3
  4. Remove the Blue locking screw
  5. Remove the plastic frontplate (it has logos all over it)
  6. Use the handle to pull out the PS3 hard drive

Step 4: Installing the PS3 Hard Drive Caddy
Swapping the hard drive between old and new is just a matter of putting the hard drive caddy or carrier on your new drive.

To Remove/Install the Original Style PS3 Hard Drive Caddy:

  1. Remove 4 securing screws from old hard drive
  2. Remove caddy from old drive & replace on new hard drive
  3. Install 4 securing screws into holes on new hard drive

ps3-slim-caddyTo Remove the Slimline PS3 Hard Drive Caddy:

  1. Remove 4 securing screws from old hard drive
  2. Remove caddy from old drive & replace on new hard drive
  3. Install 4 securing screws into holes on new hard drive

Step 5: Installing the New PS3 Hard Drive
Replacing the new hard drive into the PS3 (either model) is as simple as reversing what you did above to remove it.

Step 6: Creating the Boot Partition / Restoring Your Backup
When you restart your newly upgraded PS3 it will complain that there is no system on the new hard drive.

You now need to power up the PS3 and create an operating system partition. If you are not restoring old data on your hard drive, you will need to use the USB thumb drive containing the system firmware.

ps3-slim-4To format a system and install the firmware from a USB thumb drive:

  1. Insert the external storage device
  2. Press START and SELECT at the same time until the format warning appears
  3. Press and hold START and SELECT for 5 seconds to begin formatting<
  4. Once the format finishes, press the PS3 button to begin installing the firmware
  5. Follow the prompts to complete installation of the PS3 firmware and accept license
  6. Repeat for each file you want to restore

You can now perform an automatic or manual restore of your saved backup data just like we outlined in the PS3 backup article.
While changing the size of your PS3 hard drive may not ultimately give you unlimited space, it is nice to have the peace of mind that goes with a large storage solution. Now you need not fear the large game installs or urge to buy HD movies that make your PS3 such an attractive media and  entertainment system.

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10 Comments on How To Upgrade or Replace Your PS3 Hard Drive

daniel sanchez

On March 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Hi i bought a 500GB hard drive for my 80GB ps3…and already installed and all my data is backed up and works fine. Just one problem, and thats that i had to re-download a map pack for call of duty black ops and i left it to download and its downloading pretty slow and it has been 2hrs already. And it shouldnt take that long. What do you think it could be? If you can email me back that would be great thanks.


On May 7, 2011 at 2:36 am

My ps3 was struck by lightning, no longer functional.
I have a new ps3 slimline 120g. i want to take out my 500g drive from the faulty ps3 and upgrade the new ps3 slim, however the new ps3 slim gives the message”the system software cannot be run correctly……”
If i use a usb drive to create an operating system partition on the 500g drive, will it delete all the data on the drive?? I no longer have an option to back up and restore as the old ps3 is not functional


On December 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

Does the •SATA 2.5″ Hard Disk Drive need to be a laptop hard drive?


On January 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm

My old ps3 is broken with MW3 stuck inside,will not eject disk,I have a new ps3, and want to take the old hard drive out and put it in the new ps3,however if I do so will I be able to get all my saved game data,playstation network I.D.,movies,music,etc. From old ps3 to operate properly on the new ps3???


On February 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm

will this update firmware. i want to stay at 3.55 currently its is at 4.10


On February 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

what if it says no application is found what to do

Santas Little Helper

On December 14, 2012 at 7:36 am

Simple and smooth guide, thanks!

For all the questions on old drive swaps, ALL data will be wiped from the inserted drive and as such none of your previous games etc will still be there. This is due to the fact that PS3 uses a UID for each system as that is written to the drive when formatted by PS3, simply to prevent machine cloning, This is very unfortunate, but not very unexpected…


On March 15, 2013 at 10:47 am

update to yesterdays 750 wd scorpion black upgrade drive works like a charm went in perfectly formatted and backed up smoothe at less time than it took to do original back up no heat problems played all day and not a problem in the new faster upgrade for my ps3..


On May 5, 2013 at 6:02 am

Just popped a 1 TB into a 40 gig ps3 and it works fine.


On October 4, 2013 at 6:45 pm

can buying a new hard drive fix corruption