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Home > Features > PS2 Online FAQ > PS2 Hard Drive (HDD)

PS2 Online FAQ - The PlayStation 2 Hard Drive

Here are some of the most basic questions people have been asking about the Network Adaptor, the PlayStation 2 hard drive, and Final Fantasy XI. Sony sent me a beta PS2 hard drive, so feel free to ask me questions about it. Before sending in your own PS2 online questions and concerns, PLEASE click here to return to the table of contents and read up on the other sections within this guide. Repeated questions are more likely to be ignored. Thank you.

This section lasted updated: August 21, 2005

1. When is the official PlayStation 2 hard drive coming out?

The PS2 hard disk drive came out on March 23, 2004. NOTE: You need an official Sony network adaptor to power the HDD.

2. Why does the Network Adapter have the letters "HDD" printed on it? Did they make a mistake?

No. It simply shows that the Network Adaptor is used with the PS2 HDD. The Network Adapter connects to the HDD and powers it while it is inside the expansion bay.

3. Which games require the hard drive to get online?

The only game is Final Fantasy XI, which takes up a couple gigs on the PS2 HDD when fully installed. All in all, it took me about 1 hour to install Final Fantasy XI on my beta PS2 hard drive -- due to all the data it had to write to the disk. However, the public hard drive that is now out in stores comes with Final Fantasy XI pre-installed.

4. Can I just use any hard drive I have laying around and install it in my PS2?

The HDD Utility Disc (which contains the HDD drivers) only works with the official Sony hard drive. You can't play Final Fantasy XI on a regular drive. Besides, there is no way to get FFXI without the official HDD.

5. I've installed a regular hard drive into the port on my Network Adapter. How can I get my PS2 to recognize it?

The HDD Utility Disc is only supposed to work with the official hard disk drive. If you install a regular IDE hard drive, then it will only work with the unlicensed Sony programs. See quesetion 34 for more info.

6. How much does the hard drive cost?

$89.99 to $99.99, with a storage capacity of 40 GB. It comes with Final Fantasy XI already installed on the drive, a FFXI installation disc (not needed unless you format the drive and start over), a PlayOnline installation disc, along with updated DVD drivers and software. Note: You need an official network adaptor to power the HDD. The network adaptor supplies electricity to the HDD.

7. How difficult is installing the PS2 HDD?

Unlike a PC hard drive, you don't need a screwdriver to install a PS2 HDD. It is very, very easy. In fact, it is nearly impossible to install it incorrectly.

8. I see that SOCOM 2 supports the PS2 HDD. Will I be able to download new content?

Yes, it is possible to download new maps into the hard drive and use them in SOCOM 2.

9. Does the HDD cause the PS2 to make more noise?

You can hear some noises when the HDD powers up, powers down, and when it is being read, but it is easy to ignore. It seems to make the PS2 fan work a little harder though when the hard drive is in use.

10. How fast is the PlayStation 2 HDD?

The maximum transmission speed is 66 MB/sec according the PS2 HDD manual - which is 5400 RPMs. The same speed of a decent laptop drive. In comparison, almost all desktop PCs have hard drives with 7200 RPMs. Some PC hard drives even go up to 10000 RPMs. With that said, 5400 RPMs is fast enough for the PlayStation 2.

11. If my data becomes corrupted or damage, will I have to send the drive back to Sony for repairs?

The utility disk comes with a diagnose and repair program that can repair corrupted data. If it cannot be repaired, the bad data is usually deleted. If your HDD is physically damaged, you can send it to Sony for a replacement. If the data is simply damaged, and cannot be fixed, you're out of luck. If essential file(s) were corrupted, you may need to format the drive again.

Note: Do not move your PS2 for 30 seconds after shutting down the PS2/HDD. Also, NEVER use the main power switch in the back to shutdown when the indicator light is green.

12. Can I place my PlayStation 2 in the vertical position with a HDD installed?

Yes, just be sure to use a vertical stand.

13. Can I recover data once it has been deleted?

No. Not unless you send it to a professional company that specializes in restoring data.

14. Can I defrag my PS2 HDD like I can with my PC hard drive?

Yes. When you delete data on the HDD, it leaves empty clusters (spaces). Over time, data can get jumbled all over the place with empty spaces -- kinda like swiss cheese. You can optimize the HDD by moving data around to fill those empty/incomplete clusters. This can help speed up disk reading speed and help create more free space on the drive.

15. Will the HDD completely replace my PS2 memory card?

Yes and No. Old PS2 software such as Gran Turismo 3 or Grand Theft Auto: Vice City will not recognize the HDD, so you must continue to use a memory card to load and save. However, in the HDD browser, you can copy your game data from the memory card to the HDD or copy memory card files from the HDD to the card if needed. Much like in Microsoft Windows, you can also create, rename, and delete folders to organize your data. I personally use this method so that I don't have to purchase a new memory card or delete any of my game data to make more space.

All newer PS2 games will most likely recognize the HDD, so you'll be able to save there without having to copy from the card. Oddly enough, the PS2 HDD manual says to use the PS2 memory card to back-up data, just in case something goes wrong with the drive. Kinda funny when the puny 8 MB memory card can't hold all that much anyways. Update: It's been over two years since I added this question and answer to the FAQ, and it is still not possible to officially use the hard drive as a memory card. :(

16. Any chance of an external hard drive?

Outside of Japan? No. External drives are more expensive, and most American consumers think that $99.99 is high enough as it is. It would be more practical for SCEA to concentrate on internal drives. Update: Official external drives are still not available, but there are unofficial drives that can be found on the Internet. Continue reading this guide for more info on external drives.

17. Does the HDD only work with a specific PS2 once it is installed, or can it be used with other PlayStation 2s if I decide to sell it?

It can work on all PlayStation 2s, except the new slimline PlayStation 2s.

18. Can I get a hard drive without Final Fantasy XI so I can pay less than $99?

This is a very common question. The answer is "NO". Note: Final Fantasy XI did not jack up the price of the HDD. Subscription fees pay for it.

19. Tell me more about the PlayOnline service.

PlayOnline is not an Internet Service Provider, but it is very similar to one. With PlayOnline, it is amazingly easy to find new friends (everyone can make his or her own profile), learn when your current friends are online, where he or she are in Final Fantasy XI, etc. You can also send e-mail and join chat rooms (even chat rooms in Japan filled with Japanese gamers). One nice feature is the ability to take a in-game screenshot while in Final Fantasy XI (the screenshot is saved to your HDD), and then going to the PlayOnline e-mail composer, and attaching the FFXI screenshot and sending it to anyone that has an e-mail address. And yes, you can attach more than one image.

Switching between the PlayOline browser and Final Fantasy XI is seemless since both are stored on the hard drive. So no need to switch discs, because you don't need any CDs or DVDs in the PS2 to play Final Fantasy XI!


20. What happens if my parents and I don't have a credit card for Final Fantasy XI subscription fees?

Good question. You can use a debit card. Also, please note that only Visa and Master Cards are accepted.

21. How much does Final Fantasy XI cost to play per month? Why is it not free to play online like other PS2 games?

First month is free and anything after the 30 days is $12.95 per month. The monthly price has nothing to do with Sony or Square Enix being greedy. Pretty much all complex MMORPG have had a monthly price. PC gamers are used to playing a fee to play an online RPG. The monthly price is used to maintain the Final Fantasy XI and PlayOnline servers, and pay the employees responsible for keeping everything running smoothly.

So how come SOCOM II is free? Well, SOCOM's servers probably don't require as much resources to maintain. Final Fantasy XI is a more complex game, and there is no doubt that its servers use more RAM and CPU power than SOCOM II.

22. Can PC and PlayStation 2 gamers play Final Fantasy XI together?

Yes, of course. You can even play with people in Japan. In fact, finding Japanese people running around each town isn't all that difficult...

23. Can you give instructions on how to install the HDD?

No. I know some people are afraid of opening up their expensive electronics, but trust me when I say that installing the PS2 hard drive is very easy and a lot less dangerous than opening up a computer case. Just read the instructions in the HDD manual, and you will be fine.

24. Does Final Fantasy XI support the USB headset?

There is no way it could support a headset.

25. Will I have to worry about cheaters in Final Fantasy XI?

No. Updates are issued regularly. Also, the equipment and gil you have is stored on the server, not on the HDD. "Hacking" the PlayOnline servers is a lot more difficult than hacking your HDD.

26. Does the HDD come with a web browser?

No, not in the North American version.

27. Can I download and store MP3s and movies on my HDD?

No, not at this time. But you can store PS2 games on it. See question 34 for more details.

28. When I cold boot my PS2, it doesn't detect my HDD! What gives?

That usually happens on older PlayStation 2s. Just tap the reset button and it should boot up again and detect it (you may have to do this several times). If not, the HDD is not installed correctly.

29. If I can't store MP3s on the HDD, what about JPEGs?

Yes. All you have to do is send an e-mail with your JPG picture attached to your PlayOnline e-mail account. Open up the e-mail using your PS2, and choose "view files." After that, choose "save." The only problem is that you can't save large files. For example, I tried a 46 KB picture of Yuna, and it was still too big! I then tried a 25 KB file, and it worked fine. Hopefully Square Enix will allow bigger files in a future update.

30. What are the names of all the servers in FFXI?

Alexander, Asura, Bahamut, Bismarck, Caitsith, Carbuncle, Cerberus, Diabolos, Fairy, Fenrir, Garuda, Gilgamesh, Ifrit, Kujata, Lakshmi, Leviathan, Midgardsormr, Odin, Pandemonium, Phoenix, Quetzalcoatl, Ragnarok, Ramuh, Seraph, Shiva, Siren, Sylph, Titan, Unicorn, Valefor. Some servers are more crowded than others, but most of them usually have at least 2,000 to 3,000 people at any given time.

31. How come I can't find my friend in Final Fantasy XI?

You cannot select the server you start on unless you have a world pass. So if you want to play with one of your friends, one of you will need to reach level 10 and purchase a pass.

32. What ports do I need to forward for PlayOnline to work with my router?

TCP 25, 80, 110, 443, and 50000 - 65535
UDP 50000 - 65535
TCP 1024 - 65535 (for the PS2)

33. What is this Final Fantasy XI: Rise of the Zilart expansion that I keep hearing about? Do I need to pay extra for it?

No, Rise of the Zilart is included on the PlayStation 2 hard disk drive and it does not require an additional fee.

34. On the Xbox, you can modify it to store Xbox games on the hard drive. Can this be done with the PS2?

Yes, but you need a program called HD Loader ($30-$40, not sold in stores). HD Loader can rip all of the data from a PS2 DVD game and store it onto the HDD (PS One games do not work). The best part is that the game can be booted from the HDD. Since it reads the game completely from the hard drive, the infamous PS2 disc read error will completely vanish.

In addition, load times are [usually] greatly decreased. No mod-chips are required to use HD Loader. We have tested the HD Loader and it works great. The bad part is that some PS2 games do not work. Please note: HD Loader is NOT a licensed Sony product. Update: Due to Sony's lawyers, production on the official HD Loader has already stopped. No more will be made. There are several HD Loader clones out there and even some illegal HD Loaders being sold. However, please do not ask me where to find these products. They can be found if you do your own research on Google.

Update: The best alternative to HDloader is HD Advance 2.0. Please do not rip games that you do not actually own.

35. How many games can I store on my PlayStation 2 hard drive?

Depends on the size of the hard drive that you install. Also, some people believe that every PS2 game is the same size, which is NOT true. As a result, it is impossible to give an accurate estimate of how many games you can install on one hard drive. However, a PS2 game can be as small as 600 MB and as large as about 4 GB (such as Xenosaga). If you put a PS2 game into a DVD-ROM drive on a PC, you can get an idea of how big the game is using Windows.

36. Can the HD Loader store MP3s or movies ?

No. It only saves PS2 games.

37. Can the new smaller and slimmer PlayStation 2 support a hard drive?

No, it is too small to fit inside the unit. Hard drives that normally go inside laptops are too expensive and Sony probably won't release an external hard drive in the U.S. because it would be even more expensive than the internal Sony hard drive. With that said, the new PS2 is great if you don't need a hard drive, which is no big deal because very, very few games make use of it, and with the PS2 life cycle winding down, it probably won't become more popular in upcoming games.

Update and Correction: You can use an unofficial external hard drive with the slimline PS2. Search for a product called "USB eXtreme External USB Hard Drive Loader" on your favorite search engine. Please note that we have not tested this product and have no idea how well it works.

This section lasted updated: August 21, 2005

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