Backup is a word drilled into our daily computing lives. If you’ve owned a PS2 for a while, then likely by now you have a library of games sitting in your house, collecting dust. There are so many scenarios that could spell the end to your beloved library, but there is a solution to extending their lives – backing them up.
There are many ways to go about this, but you cannot simply make a copy of your current game discs, due to copy protection. However, the clever cogs communities have various tools to combat this.
Backing up Your Discs
Playing your Backups
Original PS2 With Hard Drive
If you have an original PS2 and an original network adapter, then whether you’ve noticed it or not – You have an IDE Hard Drive bay. While IDE is not exactly top of the class for speed, you can get a much speedier loading experience via hard drive loading. In fact, it can be so much faster that some older games will actually struggle with the speed!
We can use the WinHIIP management tool to transfer your backed up ISO files over to your PS2 hard drive. You will also need to connect your hard drive to your Windows PC, so unless your PC supports IDE hard drives you may need to buy a tool that will let you hook up your IDE drive to a USB port.
Setting up your hard drive for PS2 use
Hook up your IDE drive (or an alternative medium) to your computer in whatever manner you have. If you get an average size hard drive then you may find yourself swapping games a lot, so it may pay to get an IDE to USB conversion kit to reduce the hassle of connecting and disconnecting the drive. Once connected, open up WinHIIP as Administrator.
We need to tell the tool which drive we will be working with, so click on Select Drive.
Select the drive you will be using. The best way to identify it here would be by the size of the drive, however if you’re using two drives (your OS one and the one to be used for your PS2) it will normally be #1.
Once you’ve selected a drive and you’re confident that you selected the right one, then it’s time to set it up for PS2 use. You’ll be present with this dialog.
After you dismiss, you’ll have a new option open up on the very grey panel, Format Drive. Click this button to get the process rolling.
If you find this screen slightly intimidating, don’t worry. Most of these options are for fine-tuning the system and more often than not you will be okay leaving these as default. Select HDLoader 48bit in the Application dropdown if it is available, and we will be good to go. Click OK!
The drive you had selected will now be registered as being a PS2 drive, which means that the PS2 will now be able to understand and interact with our hard drive once it is hooked up.
The option Add Images(s) is now available, and this is an important one. This lets us add our backed up ISO files to the PS2 drive, which is primed for HDLoader (as you can see in the drive details next to Help). While this is intended to be used with HDLoader, OPL fully supports this layout as well, so you will have no problems using that instead (which is recommended).
Network Drive (SMB)
While the hard drive method is great – if not convulted – way to play backups and large libraries, it only lets a small portion of the PS2 community play their games. The rest of us have a PS2 Slim or beyond. Further PS2 consoles from that point were very small, and didn’t contain hard drive bays.
While all of them have USB ports, they are USB 1.0, which is extremely slow. This makes external USB drives out of the question, as they will be almost twice as slow as running off the disc itself. So what option do you have? Well, your network!
SMB / File Share
Using Ethernet you can hook your PS2 up to your network, which opens you up to a method of playing backups rivalling the hard drive method. In fact, this method is also more convinient than the other methods, and does not limit you to Windows.
SMB simply allows you to broadcast a drive or folder across your internal network for other machines to access. The recipients can then log in using a set of credentials set by the source, and can fiddle around depending on their level of restrictions. If you’ve used FTP before, it is relatively similar to that.
You can set up an SMB that the PS2 will have access to, which gives the PS2 access through your network (economy routers may limit internal bandwidth to about 500Mbps, which is still faster than the PS2 DVD Drive). This also has the added benefit of making it super-easy to change your accessible discs without IDE drive limitations.
PS2 Network Configuration
You will need to configure the PS2 to connect to your network. We will be doing this through OPL / Open PS2 Loader, as to grant access OPL needs to your drive. Boot your PS2 up and load up OPL to begin.
Go to Network Settings in OPL (If it loaded the list of games, press select to go there). You’ll be asked some details to allow the device to connect to your router, which is easily done. To get this information, we will need to ask a computer that is on the same network for some details.
On Windows, search for CMD in the start menu. Once Command Prompt appears, right click and click Open as Administrator. In this terminal screen, type in the command ipconfig and click enter.
On Mac, either click on Spotlight (spyglass at the top right) or press Command + Space. Type in Terminal and press Enter. In this terminal screen, type in the command ifconfig and click enter.
In this window we are looking for the entry referring to your current connection. If you are connected via Ethernet, you will be looking for eth# (commonly found on eth0). Else, if you’re using WiFi it will be wlan#. Once you’ve found it, we can use the details provided to us for config.
Default Gateway will be listed in the response. This will often look something like 192.168.0.1. This is the IP address of your router, and lets the system know where it’ll be finding the network details from.
Subnet Mask tells the system what format IP address is being used. For most networks, this will be 0.0.255.255 or 0.0.0.255.
You can then specify the IP address yourself. If you check the connection in your routers admin configuration, you will notice normally a sequence to IP Addresses (eg. 192.168.0.1 is your PC, 192.168.0.2 is your phone, 192.168.0.12 a games console, etc). Keep non-changing numbers the same (126.96.36.199), and for the numbers that differ specify a number that hasn’t been used.
If all goes correctly, your router will add your PS2 to the network, and you can then specify it to connect to your SMB share!
Questions & Answers
Is this illegal?
There is never a striaight answer to this. In most jurisdictions this is normally a frowned upon process, but not quite illegal. Please check with your state laws if you are concerned. Normally, you will be legally fine so long as when you obtain the ISO you do NOT share it with friends or online communities. This is not a gurantee though.
If the Hard Drive method goes wrong, will it break my hard drive?
Considering the drive is empty, this process will just repurpose the drive for PS2 use. No complex wizardry to change how it operates. Most drive-related problems experienced are often down to faulty hardware (IDE drives are very old now). If the process goes wrong, just rinse and repeat until it works.
Last updated: November 18, 2018 at 22:42 pm – Added a link to alternative storage methods.