Originally Posted by danieljw
Silly question -- what is the easiest way, if any, to replace the hard drive with a larger one while preserving all of my files?
Here's my recommendation for upgrading to avoid data loss. First, buy an portable HDD enclosure with your new drive. It allows you to back things up during the upgrade, and use your factory hard drive as a USB drive for later.
Second, put the new HDD in the enclosure and format it with your PC to FAT32. Now, the PS3 will recognize your new HDD as an external drive when you plug it in to the USB port. Select the backup utility from the Systems Settings menu with the new hard drive plugged into your PS3's USB port. The PS3 will backup your entire internal hard drive to the external one.
Once the backup is completely, transfer the files from the external drive to your PC hard drive preserving the directory structure. Now, you can do the hard drive swap on the PS3. Don't worry about formatting the new drive, the PS3 will prompt you to do that when it boots up with the new drive. (I selected a full format, and you can partition 10GB for Linux if you'll want to do that later.)
While the PS3 is formatting the new HDD, put the factory PS3 drive in the external case. Format this drive with your PC to FAT32. Once the PC is done formatting the drive, copy the backup files to the external drive preserving the directory structure.
After completing this transfer and the PS3 formatting of the new HDD, plug the external drive (which is your original PS3 drive, now formatted to FAT32 with the backup files loaded on it) into a PS3 USB port. Use the Restore utility found in the System Settings menu on the PS3. The PS3 will now restore everything to your new internal HDD.
At the end of this process, your PS3 will look just like it did before you started. All of your files, logins, preferences, etc. will be there. The only difference will be the available HDD space you see in the System Settings. For less than $20 picking up the external HDD case for a 2.5" drive allows you to perform a seamless backup and restore, as well as have a portable HDD for later use (such as transferring files between the PC and PS3, for future backups).