Original PS2 Storage Alternatives

It’s known fact that the original edition PS2 had an in-built IDE drive enclosure, but hard drives are not the only option.

This page will discuss the alternative options you have to utilising the IDE bay without actually having an IDE/PATA drive. This article will assume you have an original PS2 (fat), and an official PS2 Network adapter.

SATA Drive

As you might expect, there has been work done to allow you to use SATA drives instead of IDE. SATA is the most modern form of cable-based drive connections, and can be found in almost every desktop PC used today. This connector took over from the 40-pin PATA connection and mostly took over as it did not require such a bulky ribbon connection. Hard drives are not frequently built for PATA anymore, and new ones thatare produced tend to be expensive.

There are two approaches to this – conversion or replacement of the network adapter PATA connector. With the increasing rarity of finding untampered and genuine network adapters, I do not personally favour replacement. However, there are positives and negatives to both approaches.

Conversion Techniques

SATA (Regular Hard Drive)

ATA drives are available by the dozen for astronomically low prices. However, this is because they are no longer manufacturered and are bought used. The maximum size you will normally find is 500GB, and around 5 years old. The age of the disk contributes to a low lifespan, so be careful to backup.

Alternatively, you can convert the PATA to SATA. SATA is the modern day standard (for now), and SATA drives are available – from new – to a wide variety of specifications. This way you can get a large, fast drive with a long lifespan.

Unlike the replacement technique, conversion will eat up space inside the drive bay. You are limited to 2.5″ (laptop-sized) SATA drives. Generally this is not a problem, but you will need to pad out the drive bay a bit to ensure the drive doesn’t hang off the conversion unit.

Be careful to eject the drive using the safely eject Windows functionality. Unlike genuine removable hard drives, these drives are built for PC use and generally do not react well to unexpected disconnects.

Simply connect the converter to the PS2 Network adapter, and then hook up your SATA drive. The drive enclosure is built for 3.5″ hard drives, so it’s recommended to pad out the drive a bit to make sure the unsupported weight does not break the network adapter.

When this drive is connected to your PC, you can use WinHIIP in the same way as your IDE PS2 equivalent.

SD / MicroSD Conversion

Based upon a Reddit guide posted by Amoore2600.

Instead of a hard drive, you can take inspiration from the retro consoles of late, and make a slot-loader mechanism instead. Forget attaching and detaching drives when you want to make a change, you can simply pop it out and whack it in an SD card reader!

The approach is very similar, but will require two conversion instead of one. For this method we convert the 3.5″ PATA to 2.5″, and then attach an SD to 2.5″ reader to the conversion. This basically registers the SD card as a fully-fledged hard drive to the PS2, but since both SD Cards and hard drives operate similarly the system doesn’t notice the difference.

For this approach, you will need (links are for UK):

PS2 network adapter with a 3.5" to a 2.5" conversion circuit, and an SD card conversion attached.
PS2 network adapter, then size conversion, then SD card converter.

Attach the 3.5″ to 2.5″ IDE converter to the IDE connector, and hook up the power connector. 2.5″ IDE has extra power pins, so it’s fine to obstruct the pins, however you will need to be careful to keep the wires out the way of the encolsure as much as possible. I opted to use electricians tape to keep them as close as possible.

Once set, attach the SD card board pins to the now-2.5″ female connector. You’re already done! You can now couple this with an SD card extender and a MicroSD conversion card. I recommend both to make your life easier. The former will allow you to route the ribbon cable outside the drive enclosure through a small gap, and change SD cards without removing the drive bay. MicroSD adapters normally come packaged with MicroSDs themselves, and grants you flexibility on the storage size and price.

Top of the PlayStation 2 showing the extended SD card enclosure, with an SD card in.
All these steps, and not a single performance impact.

WinHIIP – the de-facto PS2 drive tool – thankfully treats SD cards the same way as it treats drives, so you won’t need to do anything fancy. You can follow the main PS2 drive guide treating your SD card as a hard drive! Except you can gloat that your medium is easily removable.