How to upgrade your PS3 hard drive

In just a few simple steps

The PS3 may not be hot news in the game world anymore, but we can guarantee you probably still haven't played half of its best titles and we're still waiting on the PS4 to really show us its best.

However, most models of Sony's last console don't have enough hard drive space to store all that many game installs.

Something like the digital version of Uncharted 3 will eat up a huge chunk of an older PS3's HDD. It's very easy to upgrade the hard drive yourself though.

You can even use the default PS4 hard drive if you're thinking about supercharging your new console too. See how to do it in our PS4 HDD upgrade feature.

We're going to go through the process step-by-step. You only need to set a half-hour or so aside: it really is that simple.

What you'll need:

  • 1x PS3
  • 1x Phillips screwdriver
  • 1x 2.5-inch SATA HDD
  • 1x USB stick (8GB preferred) or 1x FAT32 USB HDD
  • 1x laptop or PC with internet
  • 1x PS3 controller
  • 1x miniUSB cable

Step one: buying the HDD

What hard drive can you use in your PS3? You need to make sure it's a 2.5-inch serial ATA drive of 9.5mm height or less.

In practical terms this means you can buy most 2.5-inch 500GB or 1TB slimline hard drives without any major issues. 2TB hard drives are often a little too tall, but then that capacity is arguably overkill for the aged PS3, especially as the drive will usually cost you at least £85 (US$115, about AU$167).

How to upgrade your PS3 hard drive

If you opt for a 5400rpm drive, another spec you should see listed alongside capacity, you'll get similar performance to the standard PS3 HDD. Upgrade to a 7200rpm hard drive or a more expensive 2.5-inch SSD, though, and you'll see significantly improvements to load times. You'll generally have to pay around £15 more for a 7200rpm drive, though, and SSDs are a lot more expensive.

At the time of writing you're looking at £300 (US$380, about AU$589) or more for a 1TB SSD. The hard drive we're using here is a basic 5400rpm 500GB model.

Step two: backing-up

Unlike the PS4, the PS3 lets you back-up all your saved games to a USB stick in one go, or even back-up almost all of your data (anything that DRM does not bar) before throwing out the old HDD.

You'll find this option in the system settings menu in settings. Alternatively, to just save all your save games go to the game header in the main menu, select save data utility and then copy multiple to save your games to USB. To do all the saves at once, though, you need a PS Plus subscription.

However, as with a PS4, any PS Plus owners get free cloud storage for save games anyway. Backing-up in more than one place is always sensible, but not 100% necessary.

Step three: unleashing the hard drive

There are a few different variants of the PS3 out there. We're going to deal with how to take out the hard drive of the PS3 Slim and more recent PS3 Super Slim, which is the model you can still buy new today.

Slim

To get the hard drive out of a Slim PS3, you need to turn it off, turn it over and pull off a little plastic flap on its underside. It should be pretty clear, sitting towards the front of the bottom plate.

This flap will reveal a little screw that keeps a piece of plastic in place just under the Blu-ray drive. Remove the screw using a Phillips screwdriver. This piece of plastic hides the hard drive.

How to upgrade your PS3 hard drive

Now you need to slide the piece of plastic under the optical drive to the side just a little. After this you should be able remove it easily.

You should now see two little pieces of wire in the space where the flap was. Pull them lightly to remove the hard drive. It should slide out without much effort.

How to upgrade your PS3 hard drive

The PS3's hard drive is fixed to a metal plate using four little screws on its underside. You'll need to remove all four to change your old PS3 hard drive for your new one.

When you've swapped the drives, screw the screws back in and re-seat the hard drive in the console. Make sure it's fully inserted, though, or the drive won't actually be attached properly.

How to upgrade your PS3 hard drive

Now simply work your way back, putting back the plastic cover, putting the main screw back and re-seating the flap.