Playstation 3 – Backup PS3 Using the Backup and Data Transfer Utilities

   Posted March 10, 2011 by Jimmy Selix in Entertainment

This guide is an overview and explanation of what the Sony PS3 Backup Utility and Transfer Utility settings do.  There are a lot of misconceptions and blatantly wrong information out there about the PS3 backup options.  Let’s clear them up and get down to the facts.  We’ll start with a quick introduction and then get down to some PS3 backup business.


Video game consoles have evolved greatly in the last decade and in turn they have become more complex and computer-like in design/power/functionality.   The PS3 is no exception.  It has a Blu-ray Disc Drive, Discrete graphics card, multi-core Cell processor and computer laptop harddrive.  The original launch PS3s came in the 20GB and 60GB flavors.  Later models added 80GB, 120GB, 250GB and now 320GB harddrives.  With a built-in harddrive, your game saves, videos, settings, movies, music all gets saved to it.

Like a computer, its usually a good idea to have a backup since game consoles are more likely to fail (again due to the added complexity of them) than previously.  Sony finally updated the Backup Utility on the PS3 and also with the introduction of the Slim added another feature, Data Transfer Utility.

Backup Utility

The Backup Utility on the PS3 is located in this area; XMB > Settings > System Settings > Backup Utility

When you enter the menu, you get three more options:

Back Up
Delete Backup Data

These options are pretty self-explanatory.  Back Up will do a FULL backup of your game saves, game data, games, videos, music and photos.  There are a few limitations per Sony, however if you backup your PS3 and get a new hard drive but use the same PS3, all of my data has backed up and restored fine.  However, copy-protected game saves WILL NOT restore on a different PS3 than the one you originally backed up the data from. This is very good to know if your getting a new PS3 Slim and had a PS3 Phat; you would want to use the Transfer Utility in this case (more on this later).  However, if your just going to upgrade your factory PS3’s hard drive onto the same PS3, a Backup will do the trick.  Also, all data is copied to the backup you can create on an external hard drive so PS3 still has the original data.

-Key points, you can restore a backup and all data back onto the same PS3 and get all of your content back.  However if you restore on a different PS3 than original backup was from, you will not get any copy-protected data back and have to redownload DLC that is protected too.

Sony PS3 Manual: Backup Utility

Data Transfer Utility

The Data Transfer Utility on the PS3 is located in this area; XMB Settings System Settings Data Transfer Utility

This new utility lets you transfer your data from one PS3 to another PS3 via cat5e network cable (normal computer network cable).  This utility will move the data from one PS3 to the other so the original PS3 will no longer have any of the data on it and the new PS3 has the data from the original PS3. This will allow you to copy your protected game saves to the new PS3.

I would recommend a Backup first and then data transfer (that way you can restore the backup to the PS3 you just transferred from).  Also be sure to Sync your Trophies on all accounts before doing the Transfer.

If your TV has Picture-In-Picture (PIP) or Picture-By-Picture (PBP, even better!) options, I would use them to do the transfer since you need to follow the on-screen instructions.

External Media Notes

Harddrive MUST be formatted in FAT32 for the PS3 to recognize it.  Most harddrives and XP/Vista/Win7 will only allow you to format harddrives over 20GB to NTFS and not FAT32.  Use a tool such as Fat32Format (this is a command line based utility).

You cannot copy copy-protected game saves to a flash card or memory card, again the Backup utility is needed to backup these files.  Yes, annoying.

If you just want your game data, I would recommend deleting all of your Movies, Music and Pictures before doing a backup.  You can also redownload purchased movies however it may be easier to leave them on the harddrive.

I had about 340GB of used space on my PS3 and my backup took over 15 hours.  So if you have copies of the items on your PC, you may want to delete them off your PS3 before hand and then just recopy back to PS3.

After you backed up your data, think about doing a harddrive upgrade.  Its cheap and well worth it. Nothing beats streaming/internet issues than having all your data locally on the PS3.

My Youtube HowTo Videos:

Backing up your PS3 data to external harddrive

Upgrade PS3 Harddrive


About Jimmy Selix

Jimmy Selix is an early adopter that loves to be one of the first on the block to have the latest and greatest in technology and gadgets. Another love of his is being able to share his knowledge to others seeking it. Feel free to drop any comments or questions that you may have.
View more articles by Jimmy Selix

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  • Edwin Contreras

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  • Gibson

    Iam having a problem backing my up my ps3 before I upgrade it with a bigger hard drive I also have an old ps3. Is it possible to transfer the contents of my ps3 to the old ps3 then change my hard drive and then re-transfer the data back to the larger drive. Would this work my ps3 is getting a 80010038 error and I cannot find a way round the have have to use the transfer.

    Thank you anyone with an answer

    • angie

      > I am having same problem with mine so down loading all my data to a 16 GB and getting new hard drive and trying that I hope it works and I have the old one to and it is a 80gb but went to a higher one so please tell me what that means please

  • Mark

    Hi Jimmy

    My Classic model PS3 has ‘YLOD’ but i wasn’t aware that each individual PS3 HDD cannot be used with another or the HDD will be reformatted. I can’t even turn it on to bring up the menu screen to transfer the the HDD data to my new PS3 Super Slim.

    Apparently there is a program called ‘Linux’ that can be used toe extract the data to a laptop, therefore enabling the user to upload the data back to the HDD of another ‘working’ PS3.

    Is this true, if so how do i do this, i would greatly appreciate your help as i don’t care about the broken PS3, just the five years of gamedata e.g. Fallout 3, New Vegas etc.

    Best regards


  • jamie

    hi my problem is i loaned my ps3 out to some one and when i got it back everything had been deleted off of it! (pictures,movies, music, everything!) I’m wondering if there is any way possible to get all this back. I was wondering if it’s like a computer where if u delete something it’ll still be in the hard drive or something?? idk help please!!

    • Mark

      Hi Jamie

      I think when you delete something from the PS3 you are essentially deleting from the HDD. I learned the hard way as well so now i back up everything, but if I was you I’d never loan out your PS3 again. I had to beat the shit out of my PS3 to get my info back, and I put it straight onto a external HDD the first opportunity I got, you never know when your gonna lose that data.

  • Bernardo

    I am with a big issue…. first of all: I have the PS3 phat, and it’s built in 160GB. It’s already full and I barely able to download anything. I deleted all the songs etc.
    I already bought the 1TB HDD for it. But before substitute the HD, I need to save my game data.
    I tried already two external Hard Drives to back it up and save the information on my PS3. I tried one Seagate 1TB portable with just the usb cable, it light up but the PS3 doens’t reconizes. The second which I tested was one Sony of 500GB which is compatible with PS3, but it never read it. Just lighted up.
    I even tried one small pen drivre/flash drive of 8GB but it was asked for more at least 120GB to make the back up.
    I still want to upgrade what should I do?

  • Daniel Berry

    Do y’all know a way to put ps3 backup data from an external hard drive to a ps3? I have all of my data from my last PS3 on my harddrive put my new PS3 won’t take it. It’s in FAT32 format but the data won’t show up? Could y’all please help.

  • angie

    Shows me the same code as the one one guy the 800 something code so down loading to a 16 GB hard drive thenplacing new hard drive in my system witch is bigger then the 80 i have in it and I’m hoping it will fix it if not the problem please tell me need to know so I can fix right problem its the first PlayStation 3 to come out the big black one thanks Angie

  • I have a ps3 with a burnt video chip so I bought a replacement ps3. Is there any way to transfer the saved information on to my new ps3?