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03 Jul 2008
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Formatting a USB Storage Device For Use With The PS3 - A Guide (Warning: Lots of images)

[ Edited ]
47 Replies 233,051 Views edited 19-01-2009

Along with "when's Home out?" and "why is there never anything good on the European Store?", questions like "Why doesn't my flash drive work with my PS3?" and "How do I format my USB hard drive to work with the PS3?" are among some of the most commonly asked questions on these forums. So I thought I'd put together a (hopefully) foolproof guide on how to do it. Hope it helps...

 


 

Pretty much all USB storage devices (flash drives, USB sticks, USB drives, whatever you want to call them) will work with the PlayStation 3. However, not all of them will work straight out of the box. If you've just bought a band new drive, plugged it into the PS3 and it's not being detected, the most likely problem is that it is not "formatted" correctly. The difference between the formats isn't really important here, all you need to know is that the PS3 needs the drive to be in a format called "FAT32" (ridiculous as it sounds) and most modern flash drives come pre-formatted to a format called "NTFS".


Here is what you need to do to change the format of a USB drive. But firstly, a few notes...

 

  • If you're drive is 32GB or larger, please go straight to the third method.
  • The method for doing this on Windows XP or Windows Vista is nearly identical. This guide covers both systems and I will note where any notable differences are
  • The guide does not cover Mac OSX, Linux or any other operating system
  • The language in the guide is as non-techy as I could make it. Sorry if you find it a bit patronising
  • Formatting can be dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. Always back-up your data
  • I am not responsible for any loss of data or damage to equipment caused as a result of using this guide


EDIT: Right, it seems the first two methods I mentioned don't work for everyone, so I have now added a third method which requires you to download a free and simple little app called, predictably, FAT32 Formatter. See the 'If all else fails' post below for more details. Thanks to LukasDave for the software recommendation! :smileyhappy:

 

** Click on the images to see them full-size **

 


 


Okay, on with the guide:

 

  1. Plug the flash drive into an available USB port on your PC
  2. Go to 'My Computer' (XP) or 'Computer' (Vista)


  3. Back-up any data you have on the USB drive already by copying it to you desktop or another folder on your PC.
  4. Right-click on the USB drive you just inserted and select 'Format...' from the menu. If you are not sure which drive it is, unplug it and plug it back in again to see which drive re-appears. If you are still not sure, do not continue with this guide.


  5. Select 'FAT32' from the 'File system' drop-down menu. If you have not got that option, don't worry, click 'Close' use the Alternate Method below.


  6. If you wish, you may give the drive a name of up to 12 letters. Enter this in the 'Volume label' field


  7. Ensure that you leave all of the other settings as their defaults, then click the 'Start' button
  8. You see that warning? It's not lying to you! Formatting will erase everything on the drive. If you are not sure that you've selected the right drive, or if you have anything on there that you need, click 'Cancel' now. If everything's fine, click 'OK' to continue.


  9. Formatting may take some time depending on the size of your drive. Formatting my 4GB drive on Vista took about 4 minutes. Do not interrupt this process or shut down your computer while it is running.


  10. You'll get a message box telling you when it's done. Click 'OK' then 'Close' to finish.

 

Your drive is now FAT32 formatted and should work with the PS3. Yippee!...

Except if it isn't. In which case see the next post...

Message Edited by MusterBuster on 19-01-2009 05:31 PM
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Alternate method

[ Edited ]

Alternate method:

 

If you attempted the above but didn't have the 'FAT32' option in the drop-down menu, try this...

  1. Plug the flash drive into an available USB port on your PC
  2. Go to 'My Computer' (XP) or 'Computer' (Vista)


  3. Find the drive letter of the USB drive you just inserted and note it down. If you are not sure which drive it is, unplug it and plug it back
    in again to see which drive re-appears. If you are still not sure, do not continue with this guide.


  4. Back-up any data you have on the USB drive already by copying it to you desktop or another folder on your PC.
  5. In XP: Open the Start menu and click 'Run...'. Type cmd into the box that appears, then press Enter.
    In Vista: Open the Start menu and type cmd into the 'Start Search' field at the bottom. Then right click on the 'cmd.exe' or 'cmd' search result that appears at the top and select 'Run as administrator'.


  6. The Command Prompt window appears. Don't worry about the directory it goes to. Just type in format X: /fs:FAT32 and change 'X' to the drive letter that you got in step 3. Press Enter.


  7. Formatting will erase everything on the drive. If you are not sure that you've selected the right drive, or if you have anything on there that you need, close the Command Prompt window now. If everything's fine, press Enter to continue. Please note that you may get a slightly differerent message to the one illustrated below which requires you to enter Y then press Enter. That's fine.


  8. Formatting may take some time depending on the size of your drive. Formatting my 4GB drive on Vista took about 4 minutes. Do not interrupt this process, close the window or shut down your computer while it is running.


  9. When formatting is almost complete, you may give the drive a name of up to 12 letters. This is not required. Enter a name if you wish, then press Enter to continue.


  10. You'll get a summary telling you when it's done. Close the Command Prompt window to finish.

 

Your drive is now FAT32 formatted and should work with the PS3. Yippee!

Oh, it doesn't work? Okay, no problem, see the next post...

Message Edited by Chimpanzee on 03-07-2008 01:33 PM
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If all else fails

[ Edited ]

If all else fails:

 

If the first two methods didn't work I'm guessing you have a hard drive larger than 32GB? Windows sometimes struggles with drives of this size, even when using the 'Alternate method'. You will need to use some free, really easy to use software. You won't even need to install it, just download it and go. Thanks to LukasDave for the suggestion...

 

  1. Download FAT32 Formatter here:
    Download | Readme | Website
  2. Plug the flash drive into an available USB port on your PC
  3. Go to 'My Computer' (XP) or 'Computer' (Vista)


  4. Find
    the drive letter of the USB drive you just inserted and note it down.
    If you are not sure which drive it is, unplug it and plug it back
    in again to see which drive re-appears. If you are still not sure, do not continue with this guide.


  5. Back-up any data you have on the USB drive already by copying it to you desktop or another folder on your PC.
  6. Launch the FAT32 Formatter application that you just downloaded. There's no need to install anything, it just runs from the file you downloaded.


  7. Find the drive you want to format from the drop-down list at the top. The drive letter is displayed in the large box so you can just go through all of them until you get the drive letter you found it step 4.


  8. Click somewhere in the large, region box so that it turns bright green.
  9. If the top line in the region box says Not Allocated skip to step 11, if the top line says NTFS or anything else, click on the 'Delete Partition' button.


  10. You will receieve a warning that all data on the partition will be deleted? Formatting will erase everything on the drive. If you are not sure that you've selected the right drive, or if you have anything on there that you need, click 'Cancel' now. If everything's fine, click 'OK' to continue.


  11. Ensure that the region box is still selected (bright green). You may give the drive a name of up to 12 letters. This is not required. Enter a name in the 'Volume Label' field if you wish. Ensure that you leave all of the other settings alone (but note they will probably not be the same as the ones in my screenshots - that's fine), including 'Quick Format' which should be unchecked to avoid any problems later. When you are ready, click on the 'Start' button.


  12. Formatting may take some time depending on the size of your drive. Formatting my 80GB drive took about 45 minutes. Do not interrupt this process, close the window or shut down your computer while it is running.


  13. You'll get a message box telling you when it's done. Click 'OK' then close FAT32 Formatter to finish.

Your drive is now FAT32 formatted and should work with the PS3. Yippee!

If you still can't get it working, reply below. I'm sure someone here will be able to help you out!
Message Edited by Chimpanzee on 03-07-2008 01:36 PM
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Re: If all else fails

Nice one, well explained.
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Re: If all else fails

cheers thanks i hadnt a clue what to do when my hard drive would not work

 

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Re: If all else fails

When I plug my USB drive in, it appears to detect it, but when I open it, no files are found...I have standard MP3, AVI, WMV, JPEG and BMP...but no files are found! 
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Re: If all else fails

[ Edited ]

FIFTY_ONE2one wrote:
When I plug my USB drive in, it appears to detect it, but when I open it, no files are found...I have standard MP3, AVI, WMV, JPEG and BMP...but no files are found! 

For the PS3 to see them, they need to be in a particular folder structure. Audio needs to be in a folder called "Music", images in a folder called "Photo" and video in a folder called "Video".

 

Alternatively, you can press triangle with the flash drive selected and choose "Display all". This will show everything regardless of folder structure.

Message Edited by Chimpanzee on 19-01-2009 12:01 PM
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Re: If all else fails

Thanks for the post Chimpanzee. Very useful. I have an 8Gb Pico flash drive (Google for Pico USB - its the Pico_C model). Its formatted to FAT32 and it works fine on a couple of different PCs. The problem is my PS3 still doesn't detect it. The drive simply doesn't appear on the XMB when plugged in.

 

I know there is nothing up with the PS3's USB ports because it happily detects my camera and external usb hdd.

 

I'm wondering if the PS3 can't cope with the 'open' USB connector on these drives? I also read somewhere that some USB drives aren't UPnP, but I'm not really sure if that makes sense. The whole point of USB is that it is plug n play right?

 

Any suggestions? short of buying another usb flash drive.

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Re: If all else fails

[ Edited ]

ZOMFGSTFU wrote:

Thanks for the post Chimpanzee. Very useful. I have an 8Gb Pico flash drive (Google for Pico USB - its the Pico_C model). Its formatted to FAT32 and it works fine on a couple of different PCs. The problem is my PS3 still doesn't detect it. The drive simply doesn't appear on the XMB when plugged in.

 

I know there is nothing up with the PS3's USB ports because it happily detects my camera and external usb hdd.

 

I'm wondering if the PS3 can't cope with the 'open' USB connector on these drives? I also read somewhere that some USB drives aren't UPnP, but I'm not really sure if that makes sense. The whole point of USB is that it is plug n play right?

 

Any suggestions? short of buying another usb flash drive.


Could be the weird open connection. One way to test it is to plug it into a USB hub or extention lead and plug that into the PS3 to see if it works? I would of thought pretty much all usb drives are UPnP. Did you have to install a driver for it when you plugged it into your PC?

Message Edited by Chimpanzee on 04-02-2009 04:28 PM
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Re: If all else fails

I'll give the hub a try and see if that works. I'll let you know how it goes!
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