How To Upgrade or Replace Your PS3 Hard Drive

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Published by Shawn Sines 8 years ago , last updated 2 months ago

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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