Backing up a Playstation 3

So in my efforts to get backups of all my devices/computers and have a copy off site, I ran in to a little problem with the PS3. I went to the local Best Buy and bought a couple Seagate portable 2.5 inch USB 3 hard drives. One was a 1TB one for my PS3 and one was a 2TB one for the PS4. The PS4 immediately started working and backed up. Excellent, however the PS3 had a myriad of  issues. The first issue is that the drive has to be formatted as FAT32 for the PS3 to be able to read/write to it. Well Windows 7 won’t let you format a drive as FAT32, it only supports NTFS and exFAT (the successor to FAT32). While the PS4 can read/write exFAT the PS3 is stuck on FAT32.

Luckily I have some some Mac’s and was able to format the hard drive as FAT32. Now the PS3 recognized it and I thought my problems with the backup were over. So I started the backup and then left it run. I came back a few hours later (as it said it was going to take 4 hours to do the backup) and saw the error “Unable to access the drive.” Well crap, so I thought it was a fluke and tried to start the backup again. This time it went for about 30 minutes or so and then died again with the same error. I tried it a few more times and each time it died at different parts. Since failure is not an option, but it was getting late, I decided to stop for the evening and pick backup the next day.

On the following day I started doing some google-fu and trying to see what other people were doing for backups on the PS3. Everything I had seen I had already done with the exception of one small sentence from one post on a message board. That sentence is what actually fixed my problem. As you would note from above I bought a  USB 3.0 drive (as most are 3 now days vs the 2.) Well this was the actual issue. It appears that the PS3 USB 2.0 ports don’t have enough voltage to power a portable hard drive such as the one I bought. If the drive had external power, I wouldn’t have had the issue. So the solution was to put a powered USB hub in between the PS3 and the USB hard drive. I did that, and presto about 4 hours later the backup was done.


Hopefully this will help other people. As for the formatting of the hard drive in FAT 32, if you don’t have a Mac laying around you can download GPartd (which is a Linux ISO) which you can boot and then format the USB drive. (It is available from