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Monday, October 26, 2009

How To: Attach USB Hard Drive to your Playstation 3 (PS3)

You think that in this day and age it would be drop dead simple to attach a hard drive to your Sony Playstation 3. In fact, it is 2009 and it's almost been 15 years since Microsoft gave us Windows 95 with it's plug-and-play -- which some called plug-and-pray. You would think, wouldn't you?

But it is not that simple, at all. In fact, your PS3 is very restrictive on the type of USB hard drive or mass storage device that you can attach to your Sony Playstation 3. Why? Your PS3 only allows for a mass storage device like a hard drive to be recognized in the FAT32 format.

FAT32 you say? Microsoft introduced FAT32 with Windows 95/98 (Wikipedia article on FAT here) and Windows 2008 server, Windows 7 and Windows Vista do not support it via their disk utility or disk management systems. Only NTFS and a new version of FAT called exFAT which is also known as FAT64. But, you guessed it...exFAT / FAT64 is not recognized by the Sony Playstation 3 System.

Which, leaves us in a little bit of a quandary. With only Mac OS X system Snow Leopard which will allow a FAT file system and a Microsoft Windows Vista system that will only format in exFAT, what is a person to do? All we want to do is connect an external hard drive to the PS3!

One of the most natural thoughts is...why don't you just go to a MS-DOS prompt and enter "format x: /FS:FAT32" where "x:" is the drive you want to format? Well, if your hard drive is bigger than 32GB -- which most are today -- you're in trouble as that command line will only generate a 32GB drive. (Of course, make sure you're running as administrator with windows elevated permissions)

What are you options?

Well, through this page I found a link (click here) to a program called "fat32format" which is a command line utility that enables you to format the entire partition, even those larger than 32GB as a FAT32 partition.

Here's how you should go about it:

1. Format your hard drive -- in my case it was a 80GB portable drive I have -- in either NTFS or exFAT, using the entire partition.

2. Download the file to enable formatting of hard drives and media over 32GB with FAT32 on Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. Unzip it in a location you know.

3. Open up a command line prompt as administrator with elevated permissions (you can do this by right-click and selecting run as administrator).

4. Browse to the folder where the fat32format.exe file is located.

5. Type "fat32format.exe z:" where z: is the letter of the drive you want to format as FAT32 larger than 32GB.

6. Type "Y" to confirm the drive and format. Now your drive will format!

Once it has completed, you will have a hard drive as large as the original partition you created with the FAT32 format on it. In my case, I had ~75GB available for data storage -- plenty of space to backup my Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) system.

I was able to connect it and it was immediately recognized without issue.

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Anonymous said...

I have a 1.5 seagate deskjet and my PS3 wont read it. I already have over one hundred gigabytes of information stored on it and am afraid that if I format it with fat32 it will delete all of that information. Will this happen or could I just partition it (that's the language you guys have all used) without fear of this?

Anonymous said...

I tried it and it worked. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I tried this and it worked, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I tried to extend a partition and it erased my data. 567gigs of media. Lost!

Troublesome said...

Wow...this worked perfectly, thanks a lot, this saved me big time.