Introduction: Upgrade Your PS3's Hard Drive

Picture of Upgrade Your PS3's Hard Drive

I'll go over the steps involved in replacing the stock hard drive in a Playstation 3 with a larger one. I avoided doing this for a long time because I was under the assumption that it would void my warranty. Surprisingly, Sony not only allows such modifications, they implore it.

The PS3, aside from being a game console, is also a pretty powerful media center. But a media center with limited memory would be pretty pointless, so I yanked that tawdry little 80gb drive and replaced it with a hulking 250gb drive. There are a few things to consider before moving forward...

Step 1: A Few Things, First...

There are a few things to think about before jumping right in.

What about the stuff on my PS3? Can I keep it?

The PS3 has a back up function that will save everything on long as you've got a storage device big enough to hold it all. An external hard drive makes things pretty easy. Before you upgrade, just plug in your hard drive via USB, select System Settings>Backup Utility>Back Up and follow the onscreen directions.

If, however, you're like me and don't have an external hard drive, you have to take a different approach. Just use a memory card or usb flash drive and save your game saves. Everything else can be easily re-acquired. Anything you download from the Playstation Store is infinitely available to re-download. Installed game data can be re-installed. Game patches and updates can be re-downloaded. Time consuming, but a viable option.

What kind of hard drive do I need?

Pretty much any 2.5" SATA hard drive will do. I picked up a 250gb drive for around $70. Hard drives have come down in price significantly, so a huge drive is pretty affordable. Its worth noting, all that you need is a drive capable of 5400rpm and 1.5gb/s. You could spend more money on a drive that's capable of 7200rpm and 3.0gb/s, but the PS3 will only utilize it at the aforementioned speeds, so its pretty useless.

Can this brick my PS3?!

Nope. All of the PS3's system data is stored away safe and sound, far away from your shaky, nervous hands. Of course, common sense is a prerequisite here. If you use the correct tools, take your time, and follow directions, it'll be fine. If you use a butter knife for a screwdriver and rush through it....yeah, you'll probably screw something up.

Step 2: Stuff You Need...

Picture of Stuff You Need...

Alright, you'll need:

A Playstation 3 - That's pretty self explanatory. Please don't try this on your toaster.
A New Hard Drive - As discussed in the last step.
Precision Screwdriver Set - Really, don't try to use that big screwdriver in the junk drawer. You can snag a set of precision screwdrivers for 5 bucks, and they're absolutely necessary for this.

And that's it. You'll notice an external hard drive enclosure in the picture below. You can pick one of these up from Newegg for around $20 and recycle your PS3's existing hard drive into a spiffy external hard drive. I spent about $90 bucks altogether and ended up with four times the hard drive space and a new external drive. Now that's value.

Step 3: Crack It Open...

Picture of Crack It Open...

Now for the fun part, opening up this bad boy. On the left side of the machine there is a small hatch. Using your thumbnail or a small, flat head screwdriver, pop it off. What you're looking at now is the side of your hard drive.

Now turn your attention to the shiny, blue screw in the middle. That little guy is what's holding the hard drive tray in place. Carefully remove that screw and put it somewhere safe.

Next, fold out the little wire handle and use it to slide the entire hard drive tray to the right. Once its all the way to the right, pull it towards you and slide it out. Half way there.

Step 4: Swap Out the Drive...

Picture of Swap Out the Drive...

Now this part is crucial. There are four screws holding the actual hard drive in the tray. From what I can tell, these screws are made out of butter. If you breathe on them while taking them out, they will strip. I know this...because I stripped one. Just take your time and make sure your screwdriver matches up closely with the screw head. If, like me, you happen to strip one, don't fret. With a small pair of needle nose pliers and a little patience, you can turn the screw out. However, just save yourself the hassle and try not to strip one.

Once all the screws are out, just slide the old drive out of the tray and slide the new one in. Don't forget to bolt it back together.

Step 5: Back Into the Machine.

Picture of Back Into the Machine.

Now, just do step 3 backwards. Slide the tray into the machine and push it to the left until you feel it click into place. Its not a pronounced click, but its pretty obvious when its back in. Put that little blue screw back in place, replace the cover and your done!

Step 6: And Finally...

Hook your machine back up and power on. A message will pop up telling you to format your new drive, just follow the onscreen instructions. If you backed up to an external hard drive beforehand, plug your drive in, go to System Settings>Backup Utility>Restore and follow the prompts. If you just copied your game saves (like me), just pop your memory card back in and copy them over.

I hope this will demystify the process for a few of you apprehensive PS3 owners out there. This is a really simple process that adds a lot of functionality and value to your machine. Plus, with all that extra space, it might be a good time to try out Yellow Dog Linux.


DomonicG (author)2016-10-04

I bought a fairly used PS3 fat original, it didn't come with the hard drive so I bought a 360 GB hard drive and it said error due to it not being a 4.80 or later data version. Do I need to buy the original hard drive then upgrade?

MartinN79 (author)DomonicG2016-10-12

I just went through 8 hrs of figuring this ps3 update loop of death. 1. Get a new hard drive (Do not need to format it) 2. Download latest update 4.80 from Playstation website onto a thumb drive that is formatted Fat 32. Follow the websites instructions for file naming. 3. Unplug PS3 swap drives. 4. Power on follow instructions on TV. 5. Insert thumb drive then update. Mine took 3 attempts but finally went through. The old hard drive won't work because of the ps3 formatting and it getting hung up with conflicting information from new update. I must have reformatted the old drive 10 times, still wouldn't work because of this. Now its works, my son will be happy tomorrow.

cheder29 (author)2016-09-28

thanks for help. kids can now play games, as couldn't as short memory

SurienaD (author)2016-07-08

i have a new ps3 hard drive i put the 4.80 software on a usb flas drive then in my ps3 bit it wont read it is there any way i can formate my hard drive for my ps3



UzZi_raO (author)2016-07-03

Can get 2 terabytes hard drive in 70$ in south africa

mrrockn (author)2016-06-30

I noticed that some of the videos had you installing a new OS from the Sony site. Is this just optional?

Ashinka (author)2008-11-22

If I upgrade to a 1TB 7200rpm. will it destroy my ps3? Or is a 5400rpm 320GB better?

cornflake_81 (author)Ashinka2008-11-22

Going above 5400rpm won't harm your PS3 at all, but the PS3 will only spin it up to 5400rpm. I haven't seen any 1TB 2.5" drives....that's a lot of storage.

Morden_Kain (author)cornflake_812016-04-24

Yes, I am posting to a 7yr old comment, however this cracked me up :). For the future, what controls the spinning speed of a HDD is not the PS3, it is the HDD controller board (the green board on one side) on the HDD. If a drive is able to spin up to 7200RPMs, then the drive will spin to that speed as the drive is meant to operate at that RPM.

The limitation is with the interface between the HDD and the PS3 which is a SATA I controller. This will limit the transfer speed between the HDD and the PS3 to 1.5Gbps. To take the RPMs out of the equation, pick up a SSD rated for SATA II (3Gbps transfer rate) or SATA III (6Gbps transfer rate). When you install one of these drives into the PS3, it will not transmit data at the max rate. The PS3 interface will not allow it above 1.5Gbps.

The only bad things about using a faster RPM than 5400 is that the unit will be warmer as the 7200 will generate more heat and the HDD is a bit louder.

itsaidhi (author)cornflake_812009-02-08

1TB is at Comp USA for $109

Ashinka (author)cornflake_812008-11-22

ahh my bad. I didnt look at the size, lol I was planning on buying a 3.5" thanks for the info. I'll try it with a 320/250.160 then..

paperclip32 (author)2010-04-07

 WHAT!?!?I can't change my toaster's hard drive?!?

well,if it has one of course you can!

JasonM244 (author)ahovhannisyan2016-04-21

Hell yeah, man! I upgraded my toasters hard drive yesterday and now I can toast 2GB worth of toast at a time!

JasonM244 (author)JasonM2442016-04-21

I guess that would be bread I'm toasting. Now that I read my own post, it really doesn't make sense to toast toast. But, hey, if I wanted to, I could do like 2GB at a time now!

TristanR16 (author)2016-03-26

I replaced my ps4 hard drive to 2 tb. Do i have to format the hard drive on my computer before putting it into my ps3 also the playstation website doesn't have the system software for the ps3 just the update file so how would i go about putting a new hard drive in because my old one wont work anymore for some reason so i need to switch it out.

BigDaveRa (author)2015-12-29

I have just got a slimline PS3 to replace my original chunky one (as the disc reader is broken). Can I take the hard drive out of my old one and attach it to the slimline one, whilst leaving the slim lines hard drive in place, to double up on storage?

TonyP54 (author)BigDaveRa2016-02-06

If you buy an external USB adapter for your old chunky PS3's hard disc, then you could hook it up to your new slim PS3 alongside its internal hard disc and have more space. except, anything related to PS3 games and their updates will install onto the consoles internal hard disc only :|. PS3 will not give you the option of being able to install onto the external hard disc because Sony doesn't allow the ability to do so.

kdtrey5 (author)BigDaveRa2016-01-16

What model is the fat Ps3

cornflake_81 (author)BigDaveRa2015-12-29

You could put the old hard drive from your fat PS3 into an external HDD case, format it (to fat32, I believe), and use it for additional storage for your new PS3. But if I recall correctly, it won't work for game data. I did that previously, and used the additional hard drive to store movies, music, etc.

BigDaveRa (author)cornflake_812015-12-29

ok, thanks for the advice

ChrisC236 (author)2016-01-05

Do you need to have the firmware on a USB in order to get the new, blank hard drive to install, or will it seek that out once you get started? Also, does the drive need to be empty when you start up? My father has an old 250GB laptop hard drive I'd like to use, but it has data on it.

OtterP (author)2015-09-20

I'll try posting again.... I have a NTFS HDD in a computer with windows xp and want to use it as a second HDD for more game storage for my ps3. Actual games, not saved game data. What is the process to use an already used HDD with an OS on it and is there a problem with switching between two HDDs with my ps3?

AnastasiaB2 (author)OtterP2015-11-04

Don't do it. It's possible, but tricky. The PS3 will only recognize FAT32 partitions connected by the USB ports, while many Windows (XP and newer) default to NTFS partitions. If the PS3 doesn't recognize it, it probably won't even touch it or say no device detected. But a worst case scenario would be that your data gets over-written. Lately, even 1TB hard drives have been priced at less than $70, so it's worth it to just upgrade the HD that's in the PS3. The PS3 won't DL, save, or run actual game files from a USB drive, it would only be able to use it to move save data (games, media, images, etc.) on/off of the installed HD.

Another thing to consider when upgrading the internal HD, is that the larger the HD, the longer it can take for the HD to find and load files, which can cause some games to lag, load in-game objects slower, or in some cases crash or exit the game. I keep a 500GB HD for most regular gaming, but when seriously involved in just a few, I swap out the HD for a smaller one I have dedicated to just a few of the games which would crash most often on a larger HD. I just stopped in here today to look for the link to the PS3 system install files, so that I can make another tiny (lean) 30Gb HD to plug in for when I am only playing Defiance, since network assets and patches lag or crash so often in that (poorly designed, optimized) game.

What I choose to do may seem kind of pointless to some people, but I have a bookshelf with about a dozen HDs that each have the box graphics printed on to sticky labels. I just swap the HD for better experience for most of the games I play, such as GTA5, Defiance (not yet but working on it now), Borderlands & BL2, CoD series, Battlefield series, etc.

AlfredoA11 (author)2015-10-25

My ps3 does not update, it reaches to 99 and never gets to 100. Would getting a new hard drive fix the issue?

nestordaniel.garcia.79 (author)2015-03-19

Just a question..... if say you acquire an external hard drive case and in it you use the hard drive that you plan on installing on your PS3. Couldn't you just backup all your files into that and simply install the hard drive with your files already on it?

No, you can't do that unfortunately. When you insert a new drive internally, the PS3 will format the drive. That drive is then linked to that PS3. It does not allow you to use a different hard drive without formatting it first. This is an anti-piracy measure that stops you from download games to a drive, then sticking it in your machine.

jordan.gray.TREVION (author)2015-03-18

if you don't care about game saves and stuff do you have to back it up. And if so what do i do if i don't want to back it up do i just put in the new hard drive and will it work without having to upgrade it

richfiles (author)2015-03-07

When I bought my PS4, I bought a 2 TB Samsung external USB 3 hard drive, ripped the case open to get at the lovely innards, and installed it in the PS4... Then i took my 500 GB PS4 hard drive and dropped it into my PS3, after doing a backup. I STILL have 320GB left over, and fortunately... since I stopped that Samsung external drive apart, I still have the little PC board that plugs into the hard drive and provides the USB 3 connection! I plugged my PS3's old 320 GB drive ingot he circuit board and now have a 320GB portable drive.

Not bad at all!

caro monte (author)2013-04-07

thanks is afrustration pdf dont let u use like anormal computer

bittjose (author)2011-12-11

will this work on a new slim PS3?

silentassasin21 (author)2009-09-06

I did some research and the ps3s can only hold up to a 750gb drive but if you get the very brand new one that comes with the 120gigabite drive it can hold a tb just some info for you modders

Kaldea (author)2009-08-28

does Cache size matter? o_o;;

cornflake_81 (author)Kaldea2009-08-28

I don't believe so.

yeaulman (author)2009-04-15

I looked on Comp USA and couldn't find a 1TB. any chance you can post the link?

R1Ch0 (author)2009-03-31

hmmm, SSD, could be expensive unnecessary fun

Ashinka (author)2008-11-22

And if I upgrade a 60GB premium version will it lose its backwards compatibility?

cornflake_81 (author)Ashinka2008-11-23


Ashinka (author)cornflake_812008-11-24

thanks. your a great guy

durnsy1126 (author)Ashinka2009-03-13

can I gain backwards compatibility if i do this to my 40Gb?

cornflake_81 (author)durnsy11262009-03-14

No, HDD space has nothing to do with backwards compatibility.

durnsy1126 (author)cornflake_812009-03-14

Really?... Damn... well it'll still be nice to have all the room

jason-2590 (author)2009-02-12

Wikid instructable m8, me and my brother have done this, I recommend the Western Digital Scorpio my brother used this one, 320GB 2.5" Internal SATA then i had to beat him and go for this bigger one
500GB 2.5" Internal SATA

Tjoy (author)2008-11-27

Does this work on only the 80g or can you upgrade the 20,40,60g as well. I am trying to save money and am looking at buying used and then upgrading the memory.

itsaidhi (author)Tjoy2009-02-08

any PS3 buddy, buy a 20gb, because they also come with the memory card storage system. Then go buy a nice hard drive (1 terabyte, 1000gb harddrive at comp usa for $109) then install it in. So, then your PS3 will rise in value, and you can store more stuff.

cornflake_81 (author)Tjoy2008-11-27

Yep, it'll work on any of them.

emantheseeker (author)2008-12-28

Is it okay to do this with a completely new PS3? Or should I use it for a while first?

I wouldn't see why not.

yeaitskimmel (author)2008-11-22

when i plug the original 80 gig into the computer it does not recognize it how do reformat it or something so it appears in "my computer"

Go to start, right click My Computer, click Manage, and go to Disk Management. Does it show up there?

About This Instructable




Bio: I have a penchant for anything that requires tinkering or fiddling. I have a particular fondness for woodworking and props/replicas.
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