The PS3 may not be hot news in the game world anymore, but we can guarantee you probably still haven't played half of its best titles. However, most models of Sony's last console don't have enough hard drive space to store all that many game installs.
Something like the digital version of Uncharted 3 will eat up a huge chunk of an older PS3's HDD. It's very easy to upgrade the hard drive yourself though. You can even use the default PS4 hard drive if you're thinking about supercharging your new console too. See how to do it in our PS4 HDD upgrade feature.
We're going to go through the process step-by-step. You only need to set a half-hour or so aside: it really is that simple.
What you'll need:
1x Phillips screwdriver
1x 2.5-inch SATA HDD
1x USB stick (8GB preferred) or 1x FAT32 USB HDD
1x laptop or PC with internet
1x PS3 controller
1x miniUSB cable
Step one: buying the HDD
What hard drive can you use in your PS3? You need to make sure it's a 2.5-inch serial ATA drive of 9.5mm height or less.
In practical terms this means you can buy most 2.5-inch 500GB or 1TB slimline hard drives without any major issues. 2TB hard drives are often a little too tall, but then that capacity is arguably overkill for the aged PS3, especially as the drive will usually cost you at least £85 (US$115, about AU$167).
If you opt for a 5400rpm drive, another spec you should see listed alongside capacity, you'll get similar performance to the standard PS3 HDD. Upgrade to a 7200rpm hard drive or a more expensive 2.5-inch SSD, though, and you'll see significantly improvements to load times. You'll generally have to pay around £15 more for a 7200rpm drive, though, and SSDs are a lot more expensive.
At the time of writing you're looking at £300 (US$380, about AU$589) or more for a 1TB SSD. The hard drive we're using here is a basic 5400rpm 500GB model.
Step two: backing-up
Unlike the PS4, the PS3 lets you back-up all your saved games to a USB stick in one go, or even back-up almost all of your data (anything that DRM does not bar) before throwing out the old HDD.
You'll find this option in the system settings menu in settings. Alternatively, to just save all your save games go to the game header in the main menu, select save data utility and then copy multiple to save your games to USB. To do all the saves at once, though, you need a PS Plus subscription.
However, as with a PS4, any PS Plus owners get free cloud storage for save games anyway. Backing-up in more than one place is always sensible, but not 100% necessary.
Step three: unleashing the hard drive
There are a few different variants of the PS3 out there. We're going to deal with how to take out the hard drive of the PS3 Slim and more recent PS3 Super Slim, which is the model you can still buy new today.
To get the hard drive out of a Slim PS3, you need to turn it off, turn it over and pull off a little plastic flap on its underside. It should be pretty clear, sitting towards the front of the bottom plate.
This flap will reveal a little screw that keeps a piece of plastic in place just under the Blu-ray drive. Remove the screw using a Phillips screwdriver. This piece of plastic hides the hard drive.
Now you need to slide the piece of plastic under the optical drive to the side just a little. After this you should be able remove it easily.
You should now see two little pieces of wire in the space where the flap was. Pull them lightly to remove the hard drive. It should slide out without much effort.
The PS3's hard drive is fixed to a metal plate using four little screws on its underside. You'll need to remove all four to change your old PS3 hard drive for your new one.
When you've swapped the drives, screw the screws back in and re-seat the hard drive in the console. Make sure it's fully inserted, though, or the drive won't actually be attached properly.
Now simply work your way back, putting back the plastic cover, putting the main screw back and re-seating the flap.
Step 3 for the Super Slim PS3 and Step 4
Step 3: unleashing the Super Slim hard drive
The Super Slim PS3 has a similar, but slightly different, hard drive style. First you need to remove the HDD plate, which makes up the right side of the console. Just slide it back a little to free it from its securing clip.
You'll now see the hard drive tray, which is kept in place with a blue screw. Just unscrew it and you'll be able to pull out the tray holding the HDD.
Part of this tray is a mounting bracket that is firmly fixed to the hard drive with four screws. You need to remove all four of these, using your trusty Phillips screwdriver.
Now it's just a case of screwing the replacement hard drive into the bracket, then retracing your steps. Put the hard drive tray back in, re-seat the screw then put the put the hard drive cover back on. Pretty painless, wasn't it?
Step four: Download and install the OS
The hard drive you just discarded stored all the PS3's memories. Now the poor thing doesn't know who or what it is.
You have to download the latest PS3 software from the PlayStation website using a laptop or desktop and then put it onto a USB stick. It's fine to use the same one you used earlier to back-up saves, as this process won't wipe it.
The software file needs to be placed in a folder called UPDATE within another folder called PS3 on the USB stick for the console to be able to see it. Once that's sorted, put the USB drive in one of the PS3's USB slots and turn the console on. You'll be asked to press the PS button on the controller, which will need to be plugged in using a mini USB cable, but then you can just follow the on-screen prompt and you'll be done in no time.
Now you're done. Phew. What should you do with your old PS3 hard drive? If you don't want to leave it gathering dust you can buy a cheap hard drive case for a few pounds/dollars online if you want to turn the old PS3 drive into a handy little external HDD.
Is the PS3 hard drive worth upgrading?
If you have a 500GB 2.5-inch hard drive lying around somewhere, we'd strongly recommend giving your PS3 HDD an upgrade. It'll let you install many more games and is the perfect complement to a PS Plus subscription, which still gets you 'free' digital PS3 games every month: a sure-fire way to fill up a console's hard drive.
We also think it works great with an old 500GB PS4 hard drive, if you have both consoles and are thinking of boosting the new one's storage.
Don't have a spare hard drive? All you need to justify is the £40 (about US$58, AU$77) odd for a 1TB hard drive or £30 (about US$40, AU$59) for a 500GB one. While not peanuts to spend on an old machine, it's well worth it if you still have a giant 'pile of shame' of last-gen games you're yet to check out.