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Installing a PS2 HDD:
Part Two - Software

Written By:
J. Michael Neal

Ok, installing the hard drive is behind us. Now it’s time to set up the software and get the thing up and running. Again, it’s a pretty straight forward process…


Step One: Insert Utilities Disc


Insert the Utilities Disc that came with the HDD into your PS2 and wait for it to boot. You may notice that a few extra seconds have been added to the time between when your PS2 comes on and it reaches the system menu. This is normal - don’t panic, just get use to it, it’s a permanent addition. But don’t worry - the beta drive was much, much worst. It would easily add double whatever delay you are experiencing now. Anyway, wait for the disc to load and you should see a screen like this. Note: the Utilities Disc is a CD-ROM, i.e. blue backed disc and so is the PlayOnline installation disc. If you have a SCPH-30001 model PS2s and experience Disc Read Errors that prevent you from running blue backed disc, please get your system fixed before attempting to install this software. It would only lead to hours of frustration otherwise. Don’t be afraid to send your console in for repairs. Call Sony up, 1-800-345-7669, speak to a tech support rep, mention Disc Read Errors, mention your model number, walk through his or her questions, and they will offer to fix your defective system free of charge. I called them on a Saturday, sent it on a Monday, and had it back and in perfect working condition by Wednesday.


Step Two: Install HDD Software



From the main menu, select “Install HDD Software” and follow the on screen guide. It will walk you through the process as follows:



Press left and right on your controller to move through the screens.




Press X and the installation will begin. It should only be a few minutes. You might want to go to grab a drink or something.



Once that’s complete you can walk away now and use your HDD, but you might want to upgrade your DVD player software while you are at it.


Step Three: Install DVD Player



Go back to the main menu and select “Install DVD Player”. This will upgrade your DVD software to version 3.02. Yes, you still need to install the update onto a memory card. Make sure the card you wish to install the software on is in slot one and begin walking through the instructions as described above:




If an earlier software version is present on the card, it will prompt you to overwrite it. Select “Yes” and continue. Now, this should take a few minutes. You might want to use the bathroom after that drink you had a little while ago. By the time you get back this screen should be up:



Go back to the main menu and quick the Utilities Disc, but before you do make note of the three options we haven’t checked yet – “Optimize HDD”, “Diagnose HDD”, and “Format HDD”. Optimize is what would commonly be referred to in the PC world as a disc defrag, use it to rearrange data on the disc according from what’s accessed most to least often to speed up seek time. Diagnose is what would be called “Scan Disc”, it checks for damaged sectors, sections them off, and tries to recover any lost data. Format wipes the disc clean of data. Don’t select this unless you honestly know what you’re doing.


Step Four: Explore your new system options



If you go into System Configuration you will notice you now have control over Mouse and Keyboard settings. Go into the Browser and you will see the HDD icon in its new location. Browse the contents of your new hard drive. You will see the pre-installed PlayOnline software, as well as TerraMasters and Final Fantasy XI Online. These run right off of your hard drive once they are installed – no need to insert discs anymore! Look for more games to take advantage of this, as well as caching to reduce load times, in the future.



You will also see what looks like a metal footlocker called Your Saves. That’s a folder. You can create new folders by highlighting the “HDD” icon in the upper left corner and pressing triangle.



Press X and input the name of the folder. It’s much easier to type with a USB keyboard, and with all the online gaming you’ll be doing with FFXI and such, you might want to get one if you haven’t already. You can later rename folders, as well as delete and copy contents, just like on a PC or Mac.



Browse your memory cards and make note of the new options presented under each file. You can now Move (which will automatically delete the original after the transfer is complete) and Copy to a folder in your HDD, as well as Rename files – although not all save games can be renamed and you may even find some, like the TimeSplitters 2 System File, that cannot be copied or moved at all. If you are as paranoid about the safety of your memory cards as I am, you might want to take a few minutes and meticulously organize and archive all your save game files to your new hard disc drive. From this point on you never have to worry about erasing for space or losing another file again! Isn’t it great? Don’t you feel relieved?



I made a folder for all my “good” saves and a folder for all my “bad” saves – “good” saves being current files, frequently used files, particularly cherished files, or clean files (i.e. ones I didn’t save with Action Replay codes enabled so I can play through honestly) and “bad” saves being older files, duplicate files, files from games I no longer own, files from games I no longer play files from games I no longer care about, or dirty files (i.e. ones I saved after cheats where input when I was feeling lazy or just wanted to have fun playing God). I then went back and deleted all the “bad” saves from my memory cards to make room for the “good” ones. You can always retransfer a file from the HDD to a memory card, so organize your files anyway you wish – by genre, by title, whatever; manage your memory cards however you like - go nuts.



Also don’t forget to archive your PSone saves. Those memory cards don’t last forever you know. If you bought one when you first got your PlayStation god-knows-how-many years ago and still use it on a semi-regular basis you do run the risk of burning it out, and if you’re anything like me, the thought of losing some file you’ve been working on for six or seven years makes you ill. So take all those old memory cards you have lying around and throw copies into your HDD for safekeeping. You can now breath a sigh of relief that your 200+ % complete Symphony of the Night and 160+++ hour Final Fantasy VIII will exist for another console generation…


After you’re done securing files in their new surroundings, feel free to move them around within the hard drive. You can quickly and easily shuffle them between folders, copy them, rename the folders they are in, etc. Plus, they are so small in relation to the 40 GB of hard disc space you know have, all the save games on earth isn’t a drop in the bucket to how much room’s still left. There’ll still be plenty of space left for downloadable content, music, video, configuration files – whatever developers choose to use this new gadget for. Don’t worry; this thing won’t end up just being a hundred dollar memory card. I’m sure we can look forward to companies putting this thing to some good use.


Well, there you have it. All you have to do now set to setup Final Fantasy XI Online and the PlayOnline software and get playing. That’s a little easier said than done, however. Getting Final Fantasy XI up and running is a pretty long and involved process. It isn’t too difficult, but it is incredibly complex and a little confusing at times. Just follow the instructions, read them very carefully, take your time, and be patient. You’ll have a whole month of free play time to enjoy the game, and as addictive as it is, you’ll get plenty of time with it very shortly…

Posted: 3-24-04
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