How to preserve a HDD based Game System

This guides a work in progress. It doesn't cover data recovery at this time.

It'll work on most hard drive based systems even if encrypted.

DISCLAIMER: if you mess it up, we are not responsible! Perform this at own risk!

  1. Most important! DO NOT EVEN USE THE SYSTEM! Using/Booting it can cause data to be overwritten/lost permanently, many of you may be eager to dig into the contents but this is how data is lost.
  2. Install Ubuntu Desktop 16.4 on a seperate drive, Windows can be risky and damage data to the point it is permanently lost! Linux/Ubuntu is the safest and best free option.
  3. Make sure your current HDD has enough free space to dump the drive you are wanting to preserve, If the drive is 80GB you need 80GB exactly free, more is best.
  4. Remove the hardrive from the system being cloned.
  5. Connect the HDD needing to be preserved to your Linux/Ubuntu setup. DO NOT CONNECT IT WITH WINDOWS!
  6. To locate your drive use command line and the command "sudo fdisk -l " (without quotes).
  7. *Example picture taken from PS3 Slim DECH-2500A 160GB HDD.

    Disk /dev/sdb: 149,1 GiB, 160041885696 bytes, 312581808 sectors*
    Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes

    Above we see that the PS3 Hdd as /dev/sdb

    *Take note of the amount of sectors, as shown above in orange. You will need it later to confirm the dump is good.

    *For your understanding what you are actually typing: if = input/source of = output/destination - do not mess this up!

    Now that you understand, let's get cracking with dd and clone the hard drive :
    Type: sudo dd if=/dev/sdb of=/media/image_file_name_of_choice
    *dd does not show progress by default, just wait it out. Cloning can take up to a couple of hours depending on HDD size. Newer versions of dd can show progress, add:
    status=progress as parameter at the end.
  8. At this stage you may as well pat yourself on the back and get a cup of coffee or tea and wait it out.
  9. Make a backup of your new HDD dump once finished. Saving it to two or more HDD's is best.
  10. After the data is dumped use a free hex editor to make sure the image is good. HXD is a good choice. DO NOT EDIT IT.
  11. Return the original drive to your system and see what you have installed.
Many tools exist that can recover data, Original XBOX cannot be recovered at this time, and XBOX 360 recovery while tools exist they don't find all data. PS3 recovery is much more complex and not fully worked out yet so keep images safe.

Awhile back I spoke to Gerbilsoft who created a tool that can read and restore data from Wii RVT-H units and a few builds have been released there.

If you're in need for XBOX 360/PlayStation 3 data recovery we do have some custom written tools which may help, these have a higher chance of recovery than most public tools. If you're able to upload the image we're happy to look and attempt recovery at no cost to you. All data will be yours and we're happy to make agreements over any data including deleting the files/images our end once finished. You can use our contact form for more information