Upgrade the PS3 Hard Drive to Create More Space for Games and More

If you have not done so, please read the introduction to Upgrading a PS3 Hard Drive before performing these steps.

Upgrading the PlayStation 3 hard drive is a simple process. In the Sony PS3 manual Sony actually tells you how to do it, but towards the end, they throw in a bunch of protective legal mumbo jumbo saying you may void your warranty. My best guess, if your console needs service, re-install the original factory hard drive before sending it in. Upgrading the hard drive may void your warranty, so do so at your own risk. Here is what you will need to perform the upgrade.

In the picture below you will see a screwdriver, a notebook SATA 160GB hard drive (you can use any size, but use a 5400RPM drive), and an external USB hard drive, you'll need the hard drive if you wish to save content from the old PS3 hard drive.

The first step is making sure you have a nice, clean, safe area to work and that you have the above materials and tools. If you have all of this, then you are ready to begin upgrading your PS3 hard drive! Continue to the next step...

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Connect a USB Hard Drive to the PS3 to Back Up Content

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - Backup the content to a USB hard drive
Jason Rybka

Now that you have decided to upgrade the PS3 hard drive and have all the required tools and materials, you are ready to back up the content on the PS3 to a removable USB hard drive. When I did my backup I used a Maxtor 80 GB USB hard drive, but any USB hard drive with enough space will do.

Connect the USB hard drive to the PS3 and the PS3 system software will automatically recognize the external USB hard drive, allowing you to copy contents from the PS3 to the external USB hard drive. You can now move on to the next step.

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Copy the Old PS3 Contents to the USB Drive

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - copy the old content to save it.
Jason Rybka

This is fairly simple, just use the navigation in the PS3 to locate the media you would like to back up and copy it to the USB hard drive. The console settings, online IDs and so forth are retained in the PS3's flash memory, so there is no need to copy this content. Be sure to move any game content, such as game saves and game demos, as well as any other media, such as pictures, video, movies, and trailers.

Once all the content you wish to back up has been moved to the external USB hard drive you can safely remove the USB drive and power down the PS3 console. You are ready to swap the hard drive now. Move on to the next step.

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Disconnect the PS3 From Power and Remove All cables, Remove PS3 HDD Cover

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - Remove hard drive bay cover from PS3.
Jason Rybka

It is important that you disconnect all cables from the PS3, including video cables, controller cables, other accessory cables, and especially the power cable. Now move the PS3 console onto a work area you have prepared and place it on its side as shown in the picture below. There is an HDD sticker on the one side, this side should be up.

Right by that HDD sticker is the plastic HDD cover plate, this can be removed easily with a flat tip screwdriver, or by simply using your finger nail to pry it up and off. Move on to the next step.

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Loosen the HDD Tray Screw to Slide the PS3 Hard Drive Out

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - Loosen hard drive tray screws.
Jason Rybka

Once the cover plate has been removed you will see that there is a hard drive carriage. secured by one screw. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove this screw, doing so will allow the old hard drive to slide out from the unit, from there you will have direct access to the PS3's hard drive, and you can change it. Move on to the next step.

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Slide the PS3 HDD Tray Out

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - Slide PS3 HDD drive tray out.
Jason Rybka

You have already removed the only screw securing this, so give it a tug and pull straight up to remove it from the PS3 shell. Move on to the next step.

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Remove and Replace Your PS3 Hard Drive

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - Remove 4 screws, remove old HDD, screw in new HDD to tray.
Jason Rybka

Now that you have the hard drive carriage in your hands you will notice that there are four screws securing the hard drive to the carriage. Remove the four screws using a ​Phillips screwdriver and replace the hard drive that is there with the new one you purchased, or have available, to upgrade the PS3 hard drive with. As previously stated, you must use a SATA laptop hard drive in this application.

The console firmware sets the read-write access speed to the hard drive, so it is recommended to replace the PS3 hard drive with a similar SATA laptop hard drive that has more capacity than your current PS3 hard drive (I used a 160 GB Maxtor). The PS3's original hard drive is a 20, or 60 GB SATA laptop hard drive rated at 5400 RPM, a similar speed replacement is recommended.

Be sure to re-secure the new hard drive in the exact location the old hard drive was on the carriage, and secure it with all four screws. You are now ready to move on to the next step.

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Insert New Hard Drive, Secure the Screw, and Re-attach the Cover Plate

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - Insert and secure new hard drive in PS3 HDD tray.
Jason Rybka

Now you simply slide the carriage. back into its original location, the carriage. will help to guide the drive to the connectors. Gently move the hard drive into the slot and when you reach the end use a firm press to ensure the connections are made properly. Don't go overboard though, pressing too hard may damage other components of the PS3.

With the new hard drive securely in place, simply re-secure the one screw to the carriage and place the HDD cover plate back on the side of the PS3. Move on to the next step.

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Format the New PS3 Hard Drive

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - Format new PS3 hard drive.
Jason Rybka

Once you have reconnected all of the cables, such as power, video, HDMI (everything you normally use when you play on your PS3) you can turn the power on.

The PS3 will recognize that the hard drive you just installed will need to be formatted, and will prompt you, with confirmation, to do so. Say yes to these questions to format the new PS3 hard drive. Once the format has been completed you are ready to use the PS3 with your newer, bigger, and better hard drive. Move on to the next step.

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Move Content Back to the PS3 and You Are Done Upgrading the PS3 Hard Drive

PS3 Hard Drive Upgrade - Move the old content back to the new hard drive.
Jason Rybka

Once you have formatted the new hard drive using PS3's system software you are ready to move any content that you backed up in an earlier step back to the PS3 console. Just hook the USB hard drive back up to the PS3 and move the content you copied earlier.

You're done! Congratulations, you just upgraded your PS3 hard drive. I recommend keeping the original PS3 hard drive in a safe place, in the event anything goes wrong with your PS3 I do not know how their support team will react to an upgraded hard drive, so you'll be able to swap it to the factory original before sending it in for repair, etc.