Yesterday I helped a friend upgrade the hard drive on his PS3. We used a Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000BPVT 2.5 inch SATA laptop hard drive. Step one was to try to backup the existing system data onto my Western Digital Passport 250GB external USB hard drive, but despite formatting it several times in FAT32 filesystem with SwissKnife, Windows 7 command line, EASUS and a few other utilities, it refused to recognize the drive. We tried ExFAT as well (just for the heck of it), but the PS3 still wouldn’t recognize it. It DID however, recognize my 16GB Sandisk Cruzer. Windows 7 didn’t give me the option to format the 250GB drive in FAT32 but it did give me the option to format the 16GB Cruzer this way. When we connected the flash drive to the PS3 and asked it to backup the data, it said the flash drive was too small. So, still no luck.
Finally,we decided to try formatting the Passport 250GB drive with only a 60GB partition as FAT32 with EASUS Partition Master (instead of formatting the whole thing into a single 250GB partition of FAT32; I left the remaining space unallocated). This time the PS3 recognized the drive as an available backup destination. It gave an initial backup time of 2 hours 28 minutes, but quickly dropped to an estimated time of 1 hour 34 minutes.
Be very careful not to strip the blue screw or the four hard drive mounting screws. We had to drill one of the four hard drive screws out.
The very small ‘precision’ Philips-head screwdrivers are difficult to get much leverage with. What we had some success with was taking a set of vice-grips and clamping around the handle of the screwdriver, pushing it firmly against the screw head and using the vice-grips to provide extra twisting torque.
Good luck ! Most of the forums we read had post after post of people who couldn’t get the external backup hard drive to be recognized by the PS3. I used EASUS Partition Manager and only created a 60GB partition on the external drive. If your PS3 is a 40GB model, try creating a 40GB partition, if it’s an 80GB, try creating an 80GB partition on the backup drive. It worked for us ! Also, when the 500GB drive was inserted into the PS3, it listed approximately 420GB of usable space. So, if you are seeing something similar, that is probably typical. Much better than 40GB, 60GB or 80GB though. Again, good luck and hopefully this helps someone out there !