PS3 hard drive upgrade woes

I’ve just upgraded the hard drive in my beloved PS3 for the second time in its life.

The first time I upgraded the hard drive was couple of years ago, taking the original UK launch 60GB PS3 (complete with PS2 backwards compatibility) to 250GB. That first upgrade was pretty painless, although the backup and restore did take about 6 hours in total. I wanted to keep the existing content from the original drive (saved games, game installs, downloaded games and demos etc.) so the only option was to use the built-in backup utility to transfer the contents to a USB attached FAT32 formatted external drive.

I filled the 250GB a couple of months ago so decided to upgrade it again, this time to a 500GB drive. Of course, again I wanted to keep the content from the old drive so began the backup process to a spare external drive. That’s where I hit the first problem – how to format the external drive as FAT32.

The Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 format utilities don’t support FAT32 formatting from the GUI although I did find mention of a /fs:fat32 option on the command line version of the FORMAT command. I couldn’t get this to work despite several attempts. In the end after reading a couple of recommendations on the web I downloaded the free EASEUS Partition Master 6.5.2 Home software – and this worked great!┬áSo, I was ready to start the backup.

The next problem I hit was that the backup was taking an age – the first attempt had been running 7 hours before I stopped it and decided to delete some of the movies and ripped CDs I’d got on the PS3 in order to reduce the amount of data to be backed up. This appeared to improve matters… until the external USB hard drive started playing up on me! It was the old 320GB drive I took out of my Sky+ HD box when I upgraded that which I assumed would be fine, but I don’t have much luck with hard drives.

So next I tried a brand new 1GB Samsung drive and this worked fine… although the backup took 15 hours!!! Why on earth did it take that long? All it has to do is compress the data and write it to the drive. Anyway, hoping that the restore to the new 500GB drive once fitted would be quicker I proceeded with the upgrade. The old drive came out and the new drive went in in about 5 minutes – dead easy. I started the restore from the backup and left it running… for another 15 hours!!!

Although the upgrade was successful I can’t believe it took so long. Sony have recently added, in one of the latest firmware upgrades, a new utility for transferring data from one PS3 to another but I don’t think this is intended to be used for hard drive upgrades as you obviously need a second PS3, more for transferring the drive from a broken PS3 I think. What would be great is if Sony provided more flexible and efficient options for archiving data. For example, the backup utility could allow you to select the types of data to be backed up maybe with some indication of importance of the data e.g. saved game data and other precious data would be most important. Also, providing a flexible network based backup option without the need for a USB external drive would also be good.

Anyway, my PS3 is back up and running now with a 500GB drive in it – just in time for playing the new games I got at Christmas (Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Red Dead Redemption).