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(Translation of the original spanish version, located here. The screenshots are in spanish, but I think it isn’t a problem to follow the tutorial without problems 😉 )

The PS3 Slim, depending on the model, it has a hard disk of 120, 160, 250 or 320 GB. That can be enough for most people, but the use of Playstation Plus or PlayTV can drain all your space in a little time. In my case, the hard disk size was 160GB and I needed 3 months to get it completely full.

This tutorial is suitable for all thumbs and the tools that we’ll need are in every house. Do you wanna more space in your PS3?

First step for changing a hard disk is… having a hard disk. PS3 uses 2,5″ hard disks, the standard on laptop hard disks.  The rotation speed of the hard disk is recommendable to be of 5400rpm, it’ll have less heating issues and the SATA I controller of the PS3 doesn’t take advantage of faster hard disks (7200rpm or SSD units). And they’re cheaper 😛

I want to highlight the maximum height of the hard disk bay of the PS3 is 9,5mm, bigger units like many of early 1TB disks and 10000rpm hard disks don’t fit in the machine. So, important point, ask for the height of the hard disk on the shop or if you buy online, look the specifications or look the comments.

There’s a tutorial of hard disk change for PS3, easy to found on the net that says bullshit like PS3 only is capable to manage hard disk between 40 and 750GB or that only Western Digital HD are compatible… Internet is an awesome source of disinformation in some times.

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In my case, the hard disk is a Western Digital WD10JPVX of 5400rpm and one terabyte

The tools you’ll need are:

  • A pendrive bigger than 256MB (if it isn’t on FAT32, we’ll need to format it)
  • A little Phillips screwdriver
  • A USB-Mini USB cable (the one of charging the Dualshock)

And if you want a backup of the system, we’ll need a external hard disk, with FAT32 format, and a capacity equal or bigger than the internal disk of your PS3. If you don’t have a external hard disk or it isn’t big enough or you can’t/don’t want to format it on the obsolete FAT32, it’s possible to do a workaround with a cheap hard disk case.

When ready, we can start 😉

1. FORMATTING OUR UNITS ON FAT32: PS3 is only compatible with the archaic FAT32 filesystem. Although is still rather popular, since Windows Vista, Microsoft dropped the option of formatting on FAT32. If the unit to format is smaller than 32GB we can our Windows command line, opening the Execute windows with Win+R, writing «cmd» and clicking Accept. When you’re on command prompt, write «format (letter of hard disk to format): /FS FAT32» and press Enter.

For bigger hard disks we’ll need external tools like FAT32 Format, really easy to use.

In Linux based systems, formatting on FAT32 isn’t a big deal, with «mkfs.vfat /dev/harddisktoformat» on command line or with tools like gparted.

2. BACKUP OF HARD DISK: If you want to make a backup of the data of your PS3, have in mind that is a slow process (depending on speed of external hard disk and size of your actual unit, between 3 and 6 hours)

If you have a external disk, connect it to the USB of the PS3, and when recognised, in XMB go to Setting -> System Settings -> Backup utility -> Back up. It’ll warn you that trophys won’t be on the backup (don’t worry about that, we’ll fix it later) and it’ll ask us if we want to do the backup on a external drive. We accept and select our hard disk.

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After some time, the process start and the screen shows the estimated time to finish. We can grab some beers, it’s gonna be slow.

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If you have chosen the external case workaround instead of the external hard disk, you have to get the new hard disk in the case, make the backup as usual, copy this backup to your computer (obviously you must have space for this on your computer), re-format the hard disk and get it out of the case. When done, we put the hard disk in the PS3 and with the original hard disk we do inverse steps: We put it on the case, format it on FAT32, copy on it our backup that was saved on the PC and restore it in the PS3. This system is slower and more annoying, but we don’t need the external disk and when finished, we can use the old PS3 hard disk as a external drive 😉

3. FIRMWARE PREPARATION: We create on the root of the pendrive/external hard disk a folder named PS3, and inside it another named UPDATE. Download the PS3 firmware and put the file in the UPDATE folder. We can download it from here if the console is unmodified, If you PS3 have a CFW, I suppose you only need to download the version you want of this CFW, but I advise you to search a specific tutorial if this is your case.

4. SAVING TROPHYS: As the warning said, the backup doesn’t save the trophys, but this is not a problem. You only need to have the PS3 connected to the net and in XMB, go to PSN -> Trophy collection -> Sync with server. After this, when all the tutorial is finished, you only need to enter again on your PSN account to have all your trophys back 😉

5. PHYSICAL MOUNT OF THE HARD DISK: Once our backup is done, eject the disk, shut down and disconnect the PS3. Grab the console and turn it upside down.

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There’s a little door on down front side of the console. Under it, there’s a little blue Phillips screw. Remove it and you’ll can remove the lid of the hard disk bay.

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Push down the extract lever and pull towards yourself until the tray is completely out.

The tray grab the hard disk with four screws on its down side. Remove them holding the hard disk (or it could fall down). Extract the hard disk of the tray.

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As you can see, the hard disk I’m gonna mount is bigger than the original, but it fit well on the tray.

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Place the hard disk on the tray, put the four fixing screws and put the tray back on its bay on the PS3.

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Put the lid and the blue screw back in its places and you can connect the PS3 again. We have finished of touching its guts 😛

6. REINSTALLING THE FIRMWARE: When closed and connected, if we start the PS3, it’ll ask us to connect the controller with the cable and after this, it’ll show and error message, warning us that the hard disk haven’t any system data.

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Follow the screen instructions and connect the unit where you have saved the firmware file (step 2). When the PS3 have recognised it, push START and SELECT at same time.

The console will check the content of the storage and it will asked a confirmation to starting the format of the new hard disk. Easy, only follow screen instructions 😉

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After installing the firmware, the console will restart and will ask you for location data, PSN account… If you don’t make any backup, your tutorial finish here, your PS3 is reset to default but with a shiny bigger new hard disk. If you have a backup, don’t lose time on setting the PS3 now or you will lose this work when restoring the backup.

If you go to Settings -> System Settings -> System information, you can see the new hard disk capacity. You’ll see some space used despite the hard disk is empty, this space is reserved (between 10-15% of total capacity of the storage) to system things of the PS3. This used space is bigger with a bigger hard disk… this is the price to pay for having more space…

7. RESTORING THE BACKUP: For restore the backup, connect the hard disk where you have the backup and on XMB, go to Settings -> System Settings -> Backup utility and click on Restore

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It will warn you that restoring the backup will erase all data on the hard disk. Accept

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Choose the storage where you have saved the backup. In the case there are several backups, select the one you want to restore.

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Now it’s time to wait (again). If you follow my advise and you took some beer in the last waiting time, maybe more alcohol wouldn’t be a good idea. You can spend the next 4 hours in… I don’t know, seeing the grass grow xD

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And this is the end, after rebooting the PS3, everything will be like before changing the hard disk, except this last screenshot, very joyful to watch.

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As you can see, I didn’t waste any time and with the sight of space and ran for fulling it. When the hard disk is full again, I’ll have time to remove rubbish, now it’s time to gather things xD

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