How to add an External USB hard drive to the PS3

If you have amassed plenty of videos, music and pictures on your computer over the years then why not stick it all on an external hard drive and hook it up to your PS3. Easier, and much quicker, than streaming files over your home network this is an ideal solution for users with massive hard drive needs.

With the advances in the PS3 software, many video types can now be played and nearly all music and picture formats are also available.

So what do you need?

A nice big external hard drive (in theory any size up to around 2000 Gb is possible) although most people will opt for something between 250 and 500 Gb.

Let’s sort it out!

Seagate Hard Drive for PS3The perfect external HD for the PS3 is the fantastic 500Gb Seagate.
It has a sleek black outer casing, and a super fast 7200 rpm drive for quick file access.
(Available for only £79.99)
Or 750Gb for £89.99

Next up we need to format your drive so that the PS3 will recognise it. We need to format the hard drive to utilise the FAT32 file system. First problem is that we can’t do this using the normal Windows format facility. Windows can only format FAT32 drives up to 32Gb.

You will need to download a program such as Swissknife (Download from here). This is a free download and can format your massive external hard drive in the FAT32 file system.

When you have formatted your external drive you will need to create 4 folders so that the PS3 can recognise where you put your files.

Name these four folders:


You can then fill these folders with your pictures, videos and music – make sure you put the files in the right folder and then after you have disconnected the drive from your PC it’s time to hook it up to your PS3.


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95 Responses

  1. kelbun says:

    For those who are having trouble with storing a large capacity video, over 3.9 GB, get a programme called tsMuxer, use it to split the video into acceptable size. It can also be used to fix audio problems with HD sound formats so PS3 can play them, just google it, it’s free

  2. MediaElite says:

    By using a ripping program called DVD Fab 5 or DVD Fab Platinum you can customize any DVD, BR, or HD to PS3 recognizable format. This includes extracting unneeded audio files and subtitles or (just) the movie itself.
    You can also compress it to whatever size necessary. Which can then be transfered to a USB flashdrive or your External and uploaded to your PS3.
    Once again this works for files over 4gigs.
    If you are familiar with torrents the torrent can still be found at sites such as or Research torrents if you are unfamiliar with the process. You will need a torrent app such as BitTorrent.
    This is the most efficient way to handle the problem. Unless you are familiar with multiple programming languages and and create your own algorythym to bypass the size issue.

  3. Sam says:


    I just brought a Maxtor black Armor USB external hdd WITH 320gb. I have partiton Manager 9.0. How am I suppose to make this drive work? I read somewhere that since it is password lock that the PS3 will not reconize it? Please help

  4. T says:

    I have 1500 GB drive and need to format it to FAT32 for PS3 but the drive is full and I don`t have space anywhere to copy data temp while I format the drive, any suggestions?

  5. mort says:

    iam rubbish with this stuff i can’t use swissknife can anyone help

  6. Brian says:

    Here is how to format a 1tb HD using Swissknife. 1.Addministrative tools, Disk Management
    2.Create 8mb partition first in FAT
    3.Create rest of HD as 2nd partition approx 935gb in NTFS
    4.Open Swissknife, go to new HD and format 935gb partition as FAT32 (use quick format).
    5.Go back to Disc Management and delete 8mb partition and voila you will have the whole 935gb available under windows and on PS3.

  7. cisco says:

    this is not windows vista comp. read all the info before you start installing save you time READ !!

  8. alex says:

    guys… ive a serious problem… i origionally used a different forum to explain how 2 format my hd… thou it failed to mention the 32gb limit and i used the windows format and now i cant even read the hd! can eny1 help!?!?!?!

  9. titigames says:

    i use USBExtreme.exe reformat large HDD for PS3.

  10. Juaque says:

    We connected a 500gb Toshiba external Hard Drive to the PS3 formatted as FAT32, however it will only recognize the files copied to the specific folders and not the free space on the drive. Can anybody help. I have not yet seen anyone with this problem.

  11. kawa says:

    i have done above explained step by step. Put some test photo music and movie connected to ps3 did not worked on PS3.
    turn to pc i have 19 folders with chines and evry diferent carakters folder name. shame on you PS3 FAT32 NTFS boolshit!. could’t you do plug and play things.

  12. Aleroblue says:

    I would like to know if the games that are Copy Prohibited can be transfered using the External Hard Drive? I have 6 game that are C.P. and even though I have not played them in awhile I don’t want to start them all over agian, and I don’t want to switch the hard drives just to play the C.P. games.

    Thanks for your help

  13. jhughes says:

    Okay, so I’ve worked out a few of these issues. First, it doesn’t matter how many subfolders or what they are named, the PS3 will see them. Just hit triangle and select ‘view all’, they will show up! None of my files ever show when just selecting the hdd unless it’s been copied to the hdd by the PS3. Secondly, if you are using swissknife in vista right click on the program and select properties. Then, select the ‘compatibility’ tab. Check the box next to ‘run this program in compatibilty mode for Windows XP (service pack 2). Also check ‘run this program as an administrator’. Doing these 2 things will allow swissknife to work just fine. I’m running Vista 64bit and I run swissknife just fine.

  14. Rob says:

    1. Go to CNET and get EASEUS and install
    2. Get your HD ready
    3. Use EASEUS to partition the drive into on large segment YOU WILL LOSE ALL DATA ALREADY ON THE DRIVE!!!
    4. Format the partition in FAT32
    5. Use windows to create the 4 folders (Pictures,Music,Video,Game)
    6. Add media to the appropriate folders
    7. Plug the HD into the PS3 (PS3 will not power some HD fully; I had to use two-to-one USB adapter)
    8. PS3 WILL find the device if you followed these directions, now you can backup files, listen to your music, watch videos, etc. I got it to work on the first try!

  15. body says:

    I use this program on my main PC and stream all my video to my PS3 in the tv room.
    If a movie file is not compatable with the PS3 it transcodes it in real time to a MPG-2. It will even keep the 5.1 suround and transcode RAR files.
    Much easier to keep all my Externaal HD storage in one place out of site from the TV and I don’t have to transfer any files from one HD to another then carry it to my PS3. No making special PS3 folders…… PLUSS it makes all my movie files compatable with the PS3.

  16. barney lowe says:

    i wonder if any1 can help me pls?my ps3 has died n need 2 transfer 60gb of external hdd info on 2 another hdd(cos sony want my original hdd back in ps3 when i chop it in 4 a like 4 like swap)then be able 2 tranfer that info back in the new ps3 when i get it.i will be so gutted if i loose all music pics n game saves.any help would be greatly appreciated.thanx

  17. aaron says:

    hey thanks for this post it is helpfull i bought a seagate 1.TB

    i have just bought a playtv box to use with my ps3 but i cant transfur the playtv files accross (it’s a FREAKIN hungry app) which is why i bought the hdd but the files dont show up on the ps3 so i cant move them

  18. robert says:


    I have a 250GB external drive converted to fat32 by swissknife and have got about 235Gb of storage space. When i conect it to the ps3 it is recognized and i can copy data from the ps3 to it. I can see the data is on the external hard drive. When i play a game on ps3 the ps3 will not retreive the saved game data from the external hard drive?. i can however copy the data back onto the ps3 from the external drive and then the game i’m plying finds the old saved data? is this normal and why cant the saved data be found from the external drive.

    I created the four folders on the extrenal drive ie.PHOTO GAME VIDEO MUSIC but the ps3 saved the data onto the external drive into a new folder titled PS3 and then a sub folder SAVEDATA i think which it created itself. Is the above normal or should the saved data be ready from the external drive when starting up a game.

    Any help would be appreciated.


  19. wikopl says:

    In my opinion there are limits here. First of all what are you going to do with an external volume of 1TB or 500GB?
    Songs? No, you are not a radio station to have such a library.
    You could store some blue ray films (or let’s high quality films) but unfortunately … FAT32 supports only 4GB file size. And anything bigger than that cannot be stored, unless some file splitting is going to be applied which is unwanted as an extra processing needed. Anyone has got an idea?

  20. Bear says:

    hey, so if you have a 1tb external drive but then format it to FAT32 it will only reconize 32gbs worth of data? and i want to use my 1tb external drive to back up my ps3 so i can upgrade my internal drive but then want to use the 1tb on the computer but people are saying that it doesn’t work anymore but to fix this do you just have to format it again or what?

  21. Bear says:

    I have seen on different sites that you have to name the file “picture” not “photo” but I am not sure about this. (Not sure if you have already mentioned this before though?).

  22. jason says:

    i just bought black armor 160gb hard drive..i’ve put some flicks on it and want to watch them on my ps3…how do i do this if i have to put in the password before black armor opens up its files/unlock the hard drive..can it be formatted any way like a gig stick/flash drive

  23. intense21 says:

    I used EASUS partition manager TO format the entire portable drive 1 TB to fat 32 I decided later to split it into and it also resized it for me. For it to work on PS3 it must be FAT 32 not eXFAT32 or NTFS. Swiss knife didn’t work for me.

  24. vidyasaagar says:

    80g bportable drive

  25. HELOE says:

    Hey i have a hitachi 1tb external hard drive and it is already formatted to fat32 ! but when i plug it into my ps3 it doesn’t appear as in the entire hard drive…it doesnt appear anywhere on my ps3 HELP?!

  26. PAUL TOBIN says:

    I Have Just Used Fat32 Formatter to format my 2TB HDD and it worked fine may want to try this

  27. rhys says:

    i did everything and now my pc cant recognise my portable hd and have no idea how to get it to work again

  28. Kobra9747 says:

    ok basicly i did exactly what it told me to do and now my 1T Samsung external disc is fucked just saying thanks alot

  29. James London says:

    Just use a mac to format…simple. So long as you have one handy.

  30. Logan says:

    Windows XP formatted my 2terabyte WD external to 356Gb FAT32 and I can’t recover the lost space, any suggestions?

  31. bigg_k says:

    hey been reading what people hav sed to do this and most dont work
    i gt hitachi 2tb hard drive
    here is what does work
    download aomei partition assistant home edition 3.0 which is free
    then when the program is running your external hard drive should be listed under disk 2
    right click on your external hard drive and select format
    choose the option you want – for ps3 FAT32 and select ok
    then on the top left a green tick will appear called apply and select that and then it should do
    then insert folders onto your external hard drive using your pc and call them
    picture, music, video and game in caps and you will b all done 🙂
    gud luk hope it helps
    did for me

  32. Blake says:

    Can any one tell me how to do this with apple

  33. ben says:

    will this work with downloadable content such as the dragon age 2 dlc cause my playstation is mainly filled with dlc and game saves

  34. Aric says:

    I have a tb or 1000gb external harddrive formatted in Fat32. i already converted it because i use to use it on my xbox… but of course microsoft can’t get things right n i get the bad red ring.. i recently bought a PS3, but when i plug in my external harddrive, it doesn’t come up… why is this? it is an hp HDD 1TB external harddrive… please help!

  35. Chiwala Chandu says:

    PS3 in Caps or not

  36. pj says:

    ok so i formatted my hd with my mac and my ps3 reads it and everything but when i go to copy data ie: music and saved game data the copying screen comes up and everything but it stays at 0%, and wont copy on to the hd. can someone please help????????????????????

  37. testjack says:

    I have a WD My Book Essentials 2T HD. When I plug it into the USB port on my PS3/160 it doesn’t even power on. Can any one help? Thanx

  38. shh its a secret says:

    i have a 500gb external hard drive. i wonder if it is possible to save the game packs i have for cod black ops on it instead of the ps3 hard drive? because it is full and i dont eanna buy a new hard drive for my ps3 and i dont wanna uninstall and install the dlc i want to use each time? i got 3 of them but only got space for 2 of them. please help!

  39. me says:

    i got a 76gb ps3. i have buyed many dlc and game packs. but my ps3 hard drive is full. so i wonder if it is possible to download and install the game packs and dlc’s on my external harddrive. it is 500gb and is fat32. or do i need to buy a bigger hard drive for my ps3. please help 🙂

  40. BrenUK says:

    Can I use this method to store and play DLC games from PSN also? As I have the old 40Gb PS3 and don’t have any room for DLC.

  41. Eric Newell says:

    Like everyone else has been saying, I have an external 2tb Hp hard drive with its own power cord. It’s quite easy to format to fat32 and it shows 2tb, but when it comes to actually copying files larger than 4gb that’s impossible and will never happen on an IBM compatible computer. I think it’s totally asinine that Windows can’t do it, but that’s the way it is. Currently I’m trying to convert a 46 Gb 3-d blu-ray movie onto my 2tb fat32 HDD with DvdFab 8, but I bet when the file size hits 4 gb it’ll crash. Then I’ll have to split the file into about 20 pieces to get it to fit. I certainly hope they’ll be able to be re-joined.

  42. bri says:

    The steps here are to use the command line to format the disk properly using the diskpart utility. [Be warned: this will erase everything on your drive. Be careful.]
    1.Plug in your USB Flash Drive
    2.Open a command prompt as administrator (Right click on Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt and select “Run as administrator”
    3.Find the drive number of your USB Drive by typing the following into the Command Prompt window:


    list disk

    The number of your USB drive will listed. You’ll need this for the next step. I’ll assume that the USB flash drive is disk 1.
    4.Format the drive by typing the next instructions into the same window. Replace the number “1” with the number of your disk below.

    select disk 1


    create partition primary

    select partition 1


    format fs=fat32



    (create 4 folders on usb stick or hard drive = video, music, game and photo)

    ps3 will now recognize external or usb

    hope this helps

  43. Josh_charters says:

    I had the same problems as all you guys and ‘bigg_k’ made there suggestions and it worked instantly my drives a ‘toshiba STOR.E PARTNER 1TB’ download ‘AOMEI Partition Assistant Home Edition 5.0’ format your drive to FAT32 and drag and drop and your sorted

  44. Jonathan says:

    Hey, I’ve purchased a 1TB external hard drive changed the format to fat32 and put on a dozen films however when I plug it in to my ps3 I carnt find my gard drive any where should it just load up or have i got to find it ?

  45. flo says:

    My Seagate ExHDD was when bought a 3.64TB, (4TB) Portable, USB 3 powered backwards compatible, ExHDD formatted to New Technology File System (NTFS) on a Guid Partition Table (GPT). I plugged it into the USB PS3 port and it didn’t see the drive…… obviously…… because it was formatted to NTFS and the PS3 can only see a drive that’s formatted to FAT32.

    So I downloaded Aomei Partition Assistant which is free and did what everyone was saying – format it to FAT32, so I did then I plugged it back into PS3 and it still didn’t recognize the drive.

    Confused at this stage I started trawling the forums and sites to get answers; people were saying conflicting things – the drive cant be larger than 2TB’s, others were saying they can, the drive needs its own power supply cause USB power isn’t enough – others were saying USB is enough power, the folders inside the drive have to be laid out like the PS3 menu, VIDEO, PHOTO, MUSIC etc, others saying that makes no difference just push the green triangle on the controller etc. What people were not discussing so much was whether GPT was a compatible partition code for PS3 to read.

    After considering this could be the problem I started experimenting with the Seagate 4TB drive, I went back into Aomei and changed the drive’s boot code from GPT to MBR but I could only change 1.82TB (half the drive’s capacity) to MBR as MBR only allows up to 2.2TB to be partitioned so the other 1.82TB of the drive was then left unallocated. I then plugged the drive into the PS, again it still didn’t see it.

    I tried making a third partion thinking that the PS would read;
    Partion 1, 1.82TB, MBR Fat 32 and
    Partion 2, 38GB, MBR Fat 32 and hopefully ignore
    Partion 3 1.44TB Unallocated

    The PS3 still didn’t see the drive.

    I was left thinking the PS3 needs to read all the partions code in MBR first before it’ll boot and partion 3 had no code so the PS3 didn’t recogize the drive. It made no difference whether it was partitoned or not, if it was which mine needed to be every partion had to be MBR. I had a drive that was too large for MBR and thought I’ll need to downsize to 2TB or under.

    or this wasn’t the problem at all and the drive needed more than USB power.

    I took a chance and bought the same Seagate ExHDD, USB only powered, except this one was 2TB, plugged it into the PC and noticed that this one came configured to MBR (the 4TB remember was configured to GPT), I assume because it was under the 2.2TB allowance for MBR . So I formatted it to FAT32, plugged it into the PS3 and it worked.

    So there it is, my experience to get an ExtHDD to work off the PS3 – have;

    -a drive no larger the 2.2TB

    -a drive configured to MBR (or change it yourself) for all partions, if you’ve made partions

    -a drive formatted to FAT32

    -a drive that doesn’t need power from a wall socket

    -the folder system VIDEO, PHOTOS etc doesn’t need to be done, its just handy if you want to find things quicker, this has no relevance on whether the PS3 has detected your drive or not. Pressing the triangle then display all does just fine after the ps has found your drive.

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