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Using an external USB drive on your PS3 game console

I have just spent all day today trying to fix what could be mechanical issues on a 115GB Western Digital external USB drive. Every so often, I would hear that deathly clicking noise from the external hard drive and then lose connection to the contents of the drive. I fear that it’s life is numbered so I moved the contents to another location and low-level formatted the disk with hopes of getting more life out of it.

In order to use a USB drive with a Sony PS3 game console, it has to be formatted with FAT32 file system. Using the utilities that come with Windows XP SP3, I cannot format the entire drive with FAT32 using “format /fs:fat32″ because of FAT32 file system limitations. I searched around for a utility and found freeware SwissKnife. This software let me format the entire 115GB capacity.

After that, I tried to copy all the contents back to the extenal USB drive but I ran into roadblocks again. Using Windows Explorer, the copy would start but fail after a few minutes with an unrecognized sector error message. This only seems to happen with big files over 600MB. I had no issues copying small text files however, so I attributed the error to the FAT32 limitations in Windows rather that bad blocks in the drive. I dropped to a MSDOS command prompt and used XCOPY to copy the same big files that errored out, and I was able to complete the copy with no issues.

One final tip I learned from my brother Nick. Copy your videos and photos into folders named VIDEO and PICTURE respectively. Make sure it’s all in uppercase. Doing this will let you display the contents easily from your PS3 game console. Enjoy.

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