So, hello again everyone. I know it has been awhile, and I have missed you all, but I recently embarked on a project to preserve all the data on my PS3, in perpetuity, because I do fear that one day, the PSN for PS3 will be shut down, much like how the Wii Virtual Console was shut down. Indeed, I believe that this is inevitable, at least on a long-enough timeline, as such, I began to ask myself this question: "If, 30 years from now, I wish to play Suikoden or Suikoden II on my PS3, will the PSN digital copy still function?"
In order to ensure that it does function, there are many precautions that we may take: including things like changing the thermal paste and pads and other tasks that require us to perform surgery on our PS3 units. I will likely cover these in the future, as I plan to do all of them, but for now, I will cover the easiest of these methods: Replacing the mechanical Hard Drive in your PS3 with a faster and much more reliable Solid State Drive.
Chapter 1: Why?
Q: "Why should I upgrade my PS3's hard drive, Rooks? It works great already!"
Good question, voice-in-my-head, allow me to explain:
1) Solid State Drives are vastly, vastly better at preserving data. All Hard Drives are mechanical, and thus have moving parts. The first thing that they teach you in Engineering 101 is that each and every moving part is a potential point of failure. As such Hard Drives (HDD) are innately inferior to Solid State Drives (SSD) which have no moving parts. Indeed, SSDs are so much more reliable, that they have actually changed the industry standards:
It used to be that a particular model of HDD's endurance was rated subject to the widespread industry standard of "Mean-time Between Failure" or MTBF. Now, since SSDs have no moving parts, they can theoretically read data off of them endlessly. But, writing data to them will eventually cause them to fail over a long period of time.
Now, many companies are rating their SSDs not as MTBF, but as Terabytes Written, or as TBW. Which measures the total Terabytes that can be written to an SSD before it causes failure. Meanwhile, you can more-or-less read off of SSDs forever. Well, not forever, but I assure you, every other component on your PS3 will fail long before the SSD does.
2) SSDs are quite a bit faster than the Mechanical HDDs. While the PS3's primary speed limitations lie in the SATA rev I at 1.5Gb/s speeds of its drive connector, you can significantly improve the speed with an SSD over its stock HDD. In my experience, this helps most with installing games, a real pain on the PS3. Install speeds often improve for me around 25%. Load times off of BD discs sometimes improve, but not by much. Really, though, it is faster and much more responsive to inputs, particularly on the Menus. While the Toshiba or Hitachi HDDs that were provided by Sony in their PS3 units are praised for being reliable, the least reliable modern SSD is vastly more reliable than the most reliable modern HDD.
3) SSD prices have never been lower. Literally. Some Tech Industry analysts say that SSD prices may fall to $0.09 USD per Gigabyte soon, in Q2 2019, this is almost as cheap as a new HDD.
Q: "OK, OK, you convinced me. But, how would I even go about this?"
Well, Voice, the tutorial does change slightly depending on what type of PS3 you have. While there are many model numbers, let's simplify to three of them: "PS3 Original," "PS3 Slim," and "PS3. . . err. . . that last one that was really cheap and had a sliding top that easily broke off."
The good news is that TechRadar and Sony themselves have you covered here. Here's a fantastic article from TechRadar:
https://www.techradar.com/how-to/gaming ... ve-1285911
Also, the official PlayStation site has you covered too, with links to downloading a new PS3 Operating System and everything:
https://support.playstation.com/s/artic ... uage=en_US
So, particularly those people with 20, 40, and 80-gig HDDs will definitely benefit from the upgrade here. I had a PS3 Slim with 160GB HDD, and I had that filled to the brim and often had to choose what to save and what not to save. I upgraded to a 250 GB SSD, and I could not be happier. Despite some rumors, all the PS3 models, to my knowledge, can have their Drives Upgraded to SSDs.
However, please remember that the PS3 does not natively support things like TRIM and other SSD-specific technologies. But, regardless, as I said, as long as you are mostly reading from the SSD.
Q: "Alright, so what SSD do you recommend?"
Fantastic Question, Voice. It is almost like we are the same person sometimes!
I recommend an SSD from one of the top-tier manufacturers. As the PS3 does not support technologies like TRIM, I suggest two things: 1) The SSD have a background "garbarge-collection program" that is TRIM-like. and 2) That it have Single-Level Cell Caching, or SLC Cache. Though on SATA 1.5 Gb/s, the SLC is not gonna help too much lol.
Reference: https://forums.crucial.com/t5/SSD-Archi ... d-p/115182
Here are some reputable brands than I can recommend, in Alphabetical Order:
-Crucial / Micron
-SanDisk / Western Digital
Virtually every SSD from these manufacturers contains SLC caching and also some type of garbage-collection / TRIM program. So, you are good to go there. Also, they are all well-respected manufacturers with a reputation for quality in their SSD products. Crucial and Micron are actually the same company, but "Crucial" is the consumer products division, while "Micron" is the "parent" and enterprise-grade products division. Usually you will find cheaper prices on the "Crucial" brand. Similarly, the SanDisk and Western Digital brands are the same, though, I would suggest avoiding the WD "Green" drives, as they are not up to snuff sometimes, but the WD "Blue" drives are rock solid.
You will, of course, need the 2.5 inch SATA version of these SSDs, though, as the PS3 obviously does not support the modern M.2 format. Don't worry, all SATA versions are backwards compatible with the PS3's SATA revision I, 1.5 Gb/s. So, SSDs rated for SATA rev III 6Gb/s will work fine, if at a slower speed.
As I said earlier, the PS3 will be limited in speed by the SATA BUS to 1.5Gb/s. It is alright though, as I said, we are going for longevity here, not speed, and boy-oh-boy, SSDs have longevity in spades.
Q: "What size do you recommend?"
I recommend at least 250 GB sizes, with a firm recommendation at 500 GB. As for me? I got a great deal on a 250GB SanDisk Ultra SSD for $35 USD or thereabouts. The total of my PS3 data and games is about 200GB, so I got the right size for me. But, even if you have many, many digital games the 500 GB model should be more than enough for you to store everything for the very long-term.
Keep in mind, that SSDs are now up to 2 Terabytes or more total nowadays, so, the sky's the limit here. But, there is no reason to over-buy, either.
At 500GB, I imagine you will be fine. The real problems tend to come form the first-generation PS3s with 20-80 GB HDDs, and some of the PS3 slims with 160 GB.
Keep in mind that just like with traditional HDDs, you will wish to keep about 10% or more of the space of the SSD free for things like SLC caching and for garbage collection, etc. So, at 250 GB, you can rely on only 225 GB of storage, etc.
Still, I have lots of save data and about 30 digital games from PS1 to PS3 installed, including SI, SII, SIII, and SIV, and still have some space left over, so, I think many people will be just great with 500 GB, and I likely will be fine with 250 GB sizes.
Q: "Wait so the sites you linked above said that they want you to "back-up" you data! What if I cannot do that?"
Fantastic as ever, Voice! Let's help people out with that!
So, the easiest way to back up your data and to prepare for a transition to SSD is to use something that allows you to save all your data to the SSD before hand. The PS3 has a built-in data backup utility that is detailed in the TechRadar article. However, this method does require an external drive or an adapter something like this:
If you use this method, you can completely clone your PS3's drive to an SSD. Then follow the TechRadar instructions for installation, and boom! you are done with a vastly faster and more reliable SSD installed.
If not, keep reading: Now, this adapter casts $8.50 USD and ships worldwide, so there is that. However, if you are a cheapskate like I am, then listen up!
We will have to use the more ghetto-method of backing up the PS3.
This will require a USB flash drive though. Admittedly that is an extra cost, but they are cheap, you can get a plenty-large 4GB USB Flash drive for about $4.00 USD, so, that saves some money, and since flash drives are useful in a wide variety of scenarios, I think they are a better value than a USB to SATA adapter.
First you will need a separate computer. I suggest downloading the latest PS3 operating system from Sony here:
https://www.playstation.com/en-ie/get-h ... fe-mode-m/
Then install it on the USB drive as instructed on the website.
Then plug it into your currently-running PS3.
Now, here using this method, we will retain all of your saved games, but, we will rely on the PSN servers to re-download all the games and their related data themselves.
So, we will want to access several items on the Sony XMB menu, including: Virtual Memory Cards, Save Data (PS3) and Save Data (PS2).
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-back ... ave-games/
Backing up PS3 games and their saves is detailed here. Note that you do not want to access the GAME> GAME DATA menu, but, the GAME> GAME SAVES (PS3) menu. Even though the copy options may show the PS+ icon, they do not require PS+ to save to a flash drive.
As For Suikoden III *cough* PS2 games: Please select Saved Games (PS2) > Then the Game you want, AKA, Suikoden III, Suikoden IV, or maybe a Persona or two, then hit the TRIANGLE button. Select "Copy" and your installed USB drive should appear, and allow you to save the data to that.
For PS1 games, it is a bit more complex: You need to access the individual virtual memory cards, then select the exact save data that you wish to transfer over and save to your USB drive.
Select the Virtual Memory Card in question, then find the particular save that you would like to transfer, then press the TRIANGLE button. The option should come up to COPY the file to the USB drive.
https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/ps/197341 ... ard-on-ps3
Once you have all these saved files to the USB drive, you can safely disconnect the USB drive, turn everything off, and then remove the old HDD and replace it with an SSD.
Remove and Replace the HDD as shown here:
This guy goes through a lot of steps, for the PS3 Original Version. The Slim and Really Slim and Has a Disc Cover Made For Breaking models are slightly different, so please take note of this, or the instructions from Sony or TechRadar listed above.
When you have the new SSD installed, it will be a simple matter to plug in the Flash Drive and use it to install the new Operating System and your old Game Save Files, as shown above.
Remember, in this scenario, we will re-download everything from the PSN while it is still functioning. So, all games and any updates will be downloaded at a later date. But, I think this is sufficient to give our awesome community a shot in the arm at long-term digital solutions to archiving these wonderful games.
Alright, so that should be more-or-less a guide for what you need to do to begin preserving your PS3, and your PS3 data for the long term. Remember, an SSD will fail long, long after the PS3's disc drive, its thermal paste, its cooling fan, and even its GPU, CPU and RAM. So, for the long-Term this is the best solution at a reasonable cost.
Let me know below in the comments what you would like me to change next! I am thinking about a thermal paste change and total system cleanse next!
UPDATE: So, the second part of this was more complex than I thought lol. I got a Torx Screwdriver for the security screws for the teardown, only to find I needed not Torx, but Torx Security. . . So, the proper driver is the Torx Security T8, not the Torx T8 that I got. I am slapping my forehead right now, and it is going to be about June before the order gets delivered lol. Sorry folks.