Moving towards an environment where digital content is becoming as much a norm as physical media presents an interesting challenge for people with legacy hardware. As a proud owner of a fat somewhat overweight 40 gigabyte PlayStation 3, I’ve quietly mellowed through being malcontent on multiple occasions, struggling in vain to add, remove and repeat as necessary balancing space on the console’s hard drive. In no uncertain terms, it is a particular nightmare all its own, endlessly determining what stays, what goes and what invariably will be downloaded again – pending there’s a shred of space to accommodate it.
Drawing a line in the sand last week after looking at the cost of investing in a streamlined PlayStation 3, the option of replacing the hard drive stuck out as significantly more viable. Procuring a 250GB Seagate 5400 RPM HDD, I immediately set to work on expanding my console’s appetite with vigor.
Formatting the drive was easy enough utilizing a SATA capable dock and hooking it up to my PC. The drive was recognized quickly via USB and using Windows native disk management software, the old partitions were able to be removed, giving me an easily formatted hard drive. Again, using Windows 7, I was able to quick format the drive to FAT32 with default allocation. It was then time for me to back up what little native data my PS3 actually had.
Connecting a 32GB USB flash drive, I navigated to the backup component of the console via the XMB and initiated a backup. After watching the console begin, it didn’t take long before an error notified me that it’d failed and would need to be rerun. I double-checked to ensure the flash drive was formatted to FAT32 as well before reconnecting it and trying again. This time, it started and, despite a slightly less than momentous amount of data, proceeding to create a backup over the course of roughly an hour and a half.
18GB later, my backup was created and I set to shutting down, unplugging the console and removing it from its place nestled in the living room. Carefully removing the side panel, the necessarily obvious blue screen that secured the drive dock into place and using the small metal handle to slide the drive loose was easy enough, taking less than 5 minutes. Removing the screws from the dock to unseat the 40GB HDD the console had initially shipped with became a hell all its own.
It bears mentioning that after years of owning glasses and being in the information technology field, possessing a cohesive set of tiny screwdrivers has become obligatory on my part. But even these weren’t enough. Those screws had to have been seated with the same material as Thor’s Mjölnir, because try as I could there was no loosening them. Yet, after stripping a sizable bit of skin from the middle finger on my left hand and my wife mentioning she had a multitool that’d work, I happily remembered why exactly I’d married that fantastic woman.
Sure enough, a quick swap of the tools and we were back in business. The screws came loose despite my previous best efforts that had stripped at least one and required being drilled out through the head slightly to make it moveable. As the last of the four screws fell away, it was impossible to hide the grin spreading across my face.
Securing the new hard drive in the dock and opting to use a new set of screws after discarding the previous batch, I slid the HDD back into place, ensured it was stably connected to the SATA port on the PS3 and closed it. Moving it back to the living room, I hooked it up and powered it on.
Presented with a screen that the new drive would need to be formatted, I obliged, allowing the console to do so. Completed with unexpected expedience, I reseated the USB drive and began restoring my content to the system. Oddly though, within the first few moments of doing so. It failed.
The system rebooted, signaled that the database on the PlayStation required being rebuilt and as I allowed it to do so, began to get concerned. Very concerned. The rebuild completed and my content was there, but previously downloaded games had been corrupted. They’d need to be downloaded. I wasn’t sure about my game saves, but was relieved that my PlayStation Plus cloudsave was working appropriately. At least that was safe.
I tried to initiate the restore again via the backup and, thankfully, this time it started running without issue. At least, that’s the impression I got. Another hour and a half to kill while my data was siphoned back to the console? Okay, it’s Friday and I have some time. I leave and return after a bit to discover the restore had failed again. Given the amount of data I had – or rather didn’t – on the console, I accepted the backup somehow being corrupted as an acceptable loss and set to getting everything else back.
One weekend later, just about everything is back and loaded on the new, larger hard drive nestled in the PlayStation 3 quietly still whirring away as it pulls down gratuitous amounts of bandwidth so I can get back to work, especially on getting through Time & Eternity, which I’m currently overdue on reviewing. Having said that though, I’m still staggered by the overall ease it took, physically, to replace the components and the underlying cost therein.
Namely that it was a matter of basic simplicity that, realistically, demands little in the way of technical know-how to accomplish without completely rendering the console unusable. Backing up the data was, mostly easy, despite personally still being bereft of why it became corrupt and wasn’t restorable. Formatting and swapping the hard drives, aside from a few hiccups – though admittedly a bit time consuming — went by without issue. While equally draining on time was downloading all the previously acquired content, nevertheless, it now all fits without hindrance.
As far as cost, it was absolutely zero, at least in my case given the hard drive was lying around. Though they typically won’t end up being all that expensive if purchased from a reputable retailer or computer specialty store. And my only real cost in that case then was time. But the investment has paid off in dividends.
I can’t help but laud some appreciation on Sony for making this to be one of the easiest, most inexpensive upgrades I’ve ever performed on any electronic device I’ve owned. The instructions were, in no uncertain terms, insanely easy to follow and, while somewhat perilous, weren’t absolutely fraught with danger. More or less, it turned out to be a fun little project for a Friday night that snowballed slightly more than I’d anticipated, however in spite of a few hours of lost sleep, it all worked out for the best.
Instead of shelling out a couple hundred bucks I don’t have to increase space for games I want to play, Sony made it a step above the difficulty required for a drunk monkey to peel a banana. In my book, after some time levying exceptionally harsh criticism against them, it’s great to discover that they, relatively speaking, allow owners to do that instead of simply forcing them to buy more proprietary hardware or an entirely new console. I hope they keep things like this in mind going forward, because the Microsoft hard drive was anything but cheap.
On a more subtle note, thanks Sony. Real good guy move.