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PS3 Playstation 3 Hard Drive Upgrade/Change


Moderator/Computer Geek
Jan 15, 2006
1. Small phillips screw driver
2. Thumb drive with at least a 250MB capacity, which is very small in todays standards.
3. Optional if you are backing up your old system, a USB hard drive and necessary USB cables
4. USB to USB Mini cable like the one that came with your PS3 to connect your controller to the system prior to it being wireless.

First, and foremost if you can, download the newest update to the PS3 system and allow it to finish the upgrade. Next grab a thumb drive that has at least 250MB space free. Format the thumbdrive with FAT32 or FAT16, not NTFS as sometimes PS3 will not be able to read NTFS. Download your version of your PS3's firmware from here on a PC or MAC:

PS3? System Updates | Support -

After the format of the thumb drive is complete, create the following file structure on your thumbdrive itself and copy the firmware you just downloaded to the UPDATE folder:


Make sure the folder names are in ALL CAPS as it may not read it correctly if it isn't. Example: Ps3\Update will not read correctly since it is a Unix file system and Unix is case sensitive.

Skip this if you do not want to port your data to the new hard drive: Acquire a USB hard drive, and format it with FAT32. Plug in the hard drive to your PS3. You may find that you need to boot certain PS3s with the hard drive already connected to get your PS3 to see the USB drive. Now go to System Settings and then Backup. Chose to Backup data, and it will allow you to select the removable USB drive. Just let your system back itself up until it reads complete. You have an option here, you can essentially create the PS3\UPDATE folder on your backup hard drive instead of using a separate thumb drive.

Shut down your PS3. unplug and turn PS3 up side down. There will be a small cover (about 1/2" X 3/4") on the bottom up by the front that has a screw underneath of it. Remove the screw. Flip the PS3 back over. On the front, bottom, right of the PS3, you will see a small cover about 5" X 1/2". Being careful, slide the cover outward to the right. Do not try to pull straight out or you may break the tabs that hold the cover. No big deal if you do as these are fairly cheap and available to replace. Once the cover is off, you will see the little hard drive carriage with a flip up handle. Just pull the drive straight out. Remove the screws from the carriage and replace the old hard drive with the new.

NOTE: Might I suggest, when replacing your hard drive, you get at least a 7200 RPM drive and try to go with a 500GB or higher. Basically the best you can afford. PS3s come with 5400 RPM drives and the 7200 really makes a difference while in the middle of games that save data in game play, like Call Of Duty or Bioshock.

Now, put the new drive with carriage in the PS3, replace the screw and both covers.

Plug in your thumb drive or your USB hard drive, depending on where you put the firmware directed above, and the USB connector to your pS3 controller. Turn on your PS3 and you will be greeted with a message asking you to install a removable drive with the correct firmware version. It will tell you which version of the firmware, so you do not have to guess if you forgot which version it was OR you are replacing a hard drive that has failed and you did not have a chance to upgrade to a new version of the firmware.

NOTE: In the case of a failed original hard drive, now would be the time to download your correct firmware version, since you will not know until now, from the link above or google the firmware version download. I would suggest only downloading it from Sony like the link above provides. Create the file structure as I have listed above and put it on your thumb drive. Continue.

It will ask you to hold down Start and Select at the same time to proceed. Allow the operating system to boot. It will then prompt you to format the new hard drive by holding Start and Select again for 5 seconds. The format will start and will copy the firmware version to your new hard drive. It should reboot on its own. If it doesn't and it just shuts off where you see the red light indicating that it is off for a minute or so, just power the PS3 back on.

In the case that you have a backup of your old system, remove the jump drive if you have one installed and plug in the USB hard drive. Just forward through all of the prompts, no need to set time and date, or create a specific user, or set up your internet connection. Simply forward through all of these and go to System Settings, Backup. Select restore, and the system should recognize the backup you created earlier from your old hard drive. You will need to hold Start and Select for 5 seconds again to commit the backup. The system will then reformat the drive and restore your data and the operating system itself.

If you are replacing a failed hard drive you will need to run through all of the set up as you once did originally to set the system up.

You should now be able to boot the system with the new drive.

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