How can I best replace my dead PS3 without losing all my stuff?
October 7, 2013 12:23 PM   Subscribe

My beloved 60GB "Fat" PS3 has kicked, after many years of faithful service. I'm trying to figure out how to replace it with minimal hassle and without losing anything from the hard drive. Google search turns up conflicting advice. Long-ish explanation follows.

So here's the situation:
- PS3 is my beloved 60GB "Fat", into which I'd installed a 250GB drive. It died during use, now only powers on to blinking red light and no video out. I disassembled it to recover the hard drive and the disc in the optical drive. (I broke the warranty seal in the process, which means Sony won't repair it for their flat rate, according to their FAQ, so that's not an option.) I'd love to get back up and running for $200ish or less and without losing my data.

- Miraculously, a month or two ago, I did make a backup of the system to an external USB hard drive using the built-in Backup Utility. This is lucky since I have a ton of PSN stuff downloaded (games, DLC including hundreds of Rock Band songs, etc) and redownloading everything manually would really suck. My trophies have been synced relatively recently too, although trophies are not a big deal to me.

- However some people are saying backing up your system using the Backup Utility doesn't back up save games? That you have to back them up manually using the Save Game Utility? This seems crazy to me. I do not have Playstation Plus so no dice as far as cloud backups.

- I know the PS4 is right on the horizon, but I have a fair bit invested in games & accessories for the PS3 so I'm not in a big hurry to start over.

THUSLY, I'm weighing a couple options:
A. Pick up a used "Fat" 20GB or 60GB PS3 off eBay or similar. I'd be great to not lose the backward compatibility with PS1 and PS2 games (which was dropped on later models), although this isn't a total dealbreaker either way. Downside is, I have the absolute worst luck with eBay and used stuff in general. It seems like a years-old unit is not going to have a great lifespan... plus I'm wary of buying a system that's already died once, been "re-flowed" by some cheapo fix-it shop, then put up for sale as "working".

B. Pick up a new "Slim" model, most likely the cheap 12GB one, and install that 250GB drive from my dead PS3 in it.

So I guess my questions are:
1. Are my save games backed up to my external drive, if I just used the "Backup Utility" and never explicitly backed up the save games using "Save Game Utility"?
2. If they're not, will installing the internal drive from my old PS3 into my new PS3 "just work" without reformatting it and then restoring from the backup? Will it matter if the new one is the same model or not?
3. If I can't install that HD into the new system without the new system reformatting it, is there any way I can get in there and copy or back up the Save Games from it before I install it in the new system?
4. Anything I'm overlooking or other advice?

THANK YOU in advance.
posted by churl to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A few years back, I used the Backup Utility to back my 60GB drive up, and restored it onto my shiny new 1TB drive, in the very same "Fat 60GB model" (with the PS2 hardware compatibility).
My save-games copied over just fine, as did my virtual PS1/PS2 memory cards.
As far as I can tell, I lost nothing.
posted by jozxyqk at 12:35 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: To point number 2:
You can't install an old internal drive into a new PS3 and have it "just work", period. They're tied to each different set of hardware and need to be reformatted when inserting an already-used drive.

I don't know much more than that.
posted by dobi at 12:35 PM on October 7, 2013

Best answer: In fact, I nearly forgot that I had asked this very same question! (and it was just over a year ago, not "a few years")
posted by jozxyqk at 12:37 PM on October 7, 2013

Response by poster: So you did! Sorry I missed that & thanks for pointing me to it. I laughed out loud to see you said the exact same thing about confusing & contradictory information all over the place.

Thanks jozxyqk and dobi – I'm happy for any further advice or recommendations out there, but between you two I think my questions are answered. Cheers!
posted by churl at 12:49 PM on October 7, 2013

Response by poster: Speaking of which; if you have advice about selling my dead 60GB Fat for parts (or if you want it for free + shipping) just let me know. Thanks!
posted by churl at 1:02 PM on October 7, 2013

Best answer: If you want an option C, or an alternate version of option A then go look at PS3s on craigslist.

I bought one that just had a dead hard drive for $60. It's the slim, but not that new "super slim" model. As far as i could tell it had been dropped/knocked off a tv stand/moved agressively/kicked/etc while it was writing stuff to it's old drive and just toasted it that way. It gave a very clear "unable to read hard drive error code #BLABLABLABLA34243" type of error when it powered on. The warranty seal was intact and it was in physically flawless shape.

I was in almost the same situation as you, and still had a drive laying around from a previous dead PS3(i think? either way i had one) and popped it in. I cleaned out the fans/vents really well with an air compressor and i've had it for around a year now. I use it every single day and it still works completely perfectly.

Zero issues, and i was able to verify the condition and the fact that it wasn't some shady reflow job with broken seals or signs of it being manhandled open in person before i plunked down cash. 10/10 would do again.(I also got an extra dualshock 3 and some other cool stuff. The guy gave me everything that came in the box with it!)

Oh, and i will note that i did have to format the drive when i popped it in. I think i even had to format it on a computer first before the PS3 would format it and play nice. There's definitely no way around that part, and i remember encountering it before with previous PS3s as well.
posted by emptythought at 3:08 PM on October 7, 2013

I took my broken PS3 to a local repair place and they fixed it for $40, with the reflow or reball or whatever. I understand that doesn't always work, but its been without problems for 6 months.
posted by teki at 10:28 PM on October 7, 2013

Response by poster: For posterity's sake, I wanted to note the outcome of this one since it didn't perfectly jibe with my expectations.

I bought a replacement system (ended up getting a deal on a 250gb "slim"), ran System Update, then used Backup Utility to restore from my backup drive. It took just a few minutes, and completed without error, and restored my non-DRM video and pictures, but nothing else. A couple attempts later I was able to restore a handful of my save games, but the majority never came over.

So in the end – despite all this being copied to my backup drive – I was not able to restore:
- Any "copy-protected" save games which, it turns out, was pretty much all of my save games.
- Any stored "game data" which will have to be reinstalled a-la-carte from each disc / downloaded from the update servers.
- Any of my downloaded games, demos, DLC, etc (I don't have to re-buy them, but I do have to re-download them and re-install them, each one at a time, which is many hours of work considering the hundred-ish Rock Band songs etc)

In other words, in the end I'm not really any better off for having backed up my system before it failed. The reason is the goddamn "Backup Utility" is really only built with same-system hard drive upgrade/replacement in mind. It's a useless "backup" if you have to replace your PS3. I think Sony did a real disservice to their users here as "backup" sets a pretty clear expectation that this does not meet.

And there doesn't seem to be a way around it – one could use the PS3 "Data Transfer Utility" to get all their data from their old system to a new one... as long as they were literally psychic and bought the new system before the old one failed.

Anyways, pretty frustrating. Wanted to leave this here for anyone facing the same situation. I do totally appreciate the help even though I didn't get my happy ending.
posted by churl at 4:28 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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