The PlayStation 3, as Sony points out in its ad campaigns for the gaming console, only does... everything. It's not far from the truth; beyond its gaming capabilities, the PS3 has a web browser, applications for services like YouTube and Netflix, and a lot of media capabilities. But its hard drive is fairly inaccessible for storing your files, used instead for saved games and downloads from the Sony Store. Attaching an external hard drive expands the amount of storage space and allows for easy playback of all of your media.
Attach your external hard drive to your PC and turn it on. There is only one thing that stops a hard drive from being compatible with the PS3: the file system. Windows editions since Windows 2000 have predominantly used NTFS files systems, which are faster and allow for more file information to be stored. But the PS3 can't read NTFS, and needs its external media to be formatted with FAT or FAT32.
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Back up any files on your external hard drive that you don't want to lose. Copy important files to your PC's hard drive before continuing, as you'll need to reformat it to have the PS3 recognize it.
Right-click on the drive letter in My Computer after your files are backed up and choose "Format." Check FAT (instead of NTFS) and to remove the check mark beside "Quick Format." Click "Start." It will take a few minutes to format the drive, depending on its size.
Copy the video, music or image files you wish to use on the PS3 to your hard drive. It's best to sort your files on your external drive in folders according to the type of files. Don't worry about transferring files between the two file system formats discussed in Step 1--files aren't affected by going from FAT to NTFS and back. When you have loaded the drive with all of the files you need for now, right-click it in "Computer" to choose "Eject," then turn its power off and disconnect the USB cable.
Attach the drive to one of the front USB ports on the PS3 and connect the hard drive to power. Turn on the drive and the PS3. From the XMB home menu, navigate to one of the media types that you loaded on the drive, such as video.
Scroll through the menu until "External Drive" or "Additional Drive" is highlighted. Press the triangle button and then choose "Display all." You'll have to do this every time, as the PS3 doesn't have a default option to browse external drives. Your folders will now be visible.
Use "X to choose a folder and "O" to back up a level. Press X to play a video. Only video files will be visible in the video menu; you'll need to use the music and photos menus to access those specific files.