[How To] Boot Games Off USB (External Hard Drive) With Playstation 2 (PS2)

Foreword:  After a year and a half later, I have decided to re-write this guide, because honestly, it was not my own and it was presented very poorly.  Remember, I do no support piracy. Use the USB method to play your games on the hard drive to help your PS2 laser last longer.  The performance will vary, but that is up to you if you want to stick with it.  Good luck! (6-13-09) ~Versatile

IMPORTANT NEWS (5-1-10): It seems that there are a lot of dishonest users on the Internet that are copying this guide without giving credit back to me, Versatile. Because of this, I will be looking to update all the pictures in this article to have a watermark.  We have an active team scouring the net for those who have copied this article. If caught, we will be forced to take action against you. This is your warning. – Versatile


[Update: 1/15/08] I have gotten Viewtiful Joe 2 to copy to my hard drive, and I was able to boot off the hard drive and play it on the PS2. Now my laser will live longer! All help will be given in the comments as usual.

[Update 2/13/08] Added link to SKS Apps.  Without that site, this tutorial is nothing. 🙂

[Update 7/13/08] Added 2 new youtube videos of my own!

[Update 11/25/08]  I am so frickin sick of people asking why their game doesn’t work and all they see is a black screen.  Is it because your game isn’t compatible? Check out this list below and stop whining, or use swap magic and ditch the whole USB hard drive all together.  The USB 1.1 performance IS NOT WORTH IT in my eyes.


[Update 6-8-09]  Re-wrote the whole tutorial.  Will expand upon the USB Extreme GUI interface software at a later date.

[Update 6-12-09] Re-wrote major sections of the tutorial again to make it more clear.

[Update 6-13-09]  Added new Youtube Video tutorial on the USB Extreme Windows Installer!

[Update 6-28-09]  Added new Youtube Video tutorial on list of selectable games!

[Update 12-18-09] Here is another source for finding compatibility list:


[Update 12-25-09] Fixed the instructions, I left some important notes out.

Note: USB advance is in last column. Everything else is for HDAloader.

[Update 12-26-09] Added new PS2 Slim USB Booting tutorials. Enjoy!

[Update 1-9-10] Added free mcboot video.

[Update 9-24-12] Removed old video tutorials.

[Update 9-25-12] Added new video tutorial.

[Update 12-6-12] Fixed video tutorials to be consistent.


The PS2 is a great console. After 9+ years, it is still going strong. With the new $99 price point, more and more people are getting the PS2 to play old school PS2 games. What better way to preserve your games and your PS2 laser than playing off the USB interface?  This guide is based off of Swap Magic implementation.

Wait, you can play games off the USB interface?

Yes, you can but it requires some work.  Here are the PROs and Cons:


  • Uses USB 1.1 interface (slow but better than nothing).
  • Saves strain on PS2 laser because using USB interface for game playing.
  • Can have a list of selectable games in the USBExtreme interface.
  • Works on both fat and slim PS2.
  • Novelty factor is awesome!


  • Game compatibility is low.
  • Requires USB hard drive.  Highly recommend USB drives that have their own power adapter.
  • Flash drives can work , but the performance is so horrible its not worth doing it.
  • Need to have third party tool to launch the “boot CD”.  This can be done with modchip, swap magic, or exploited memory card.
  • DVD9 games (like God of War 2) are larger than 4.4 GB and will not work with USBExtreme.

What tools do I need to make this work?

Hardware/Software tool: You need to have at least one of the items below before we continue:

  • Modchip
  • Swap Magic
  • Exploited memory card (such as Free McBoot)

IMPORTANT: For this guide, I will be using Swap Magic 3.6 CD to boot the USBExtreme disc!

Blank Media:

  • 1 CD-R (700MB is fine)

Note: I highly suggest swap magic if you are unwilling to mess with the other options.  You can learn more about swap magic at this guide:


Download the Software below (more detailed instructions to follow):

Usb Xtreme:  Link [Optional. Get this if you want to use the graphical user interface for easier format/game installing.]

Usb Advance: Link [This is required.]

What should I use for the USB mass storage device?

This is what I recommend:

  • USB 2.0 hard drive that uses its own power supply (for example, it requires power from the outlet).
  • A USB hard drive that is at least 10 gigs or larger is highly recommended.  The average PS2 game size will vary from as low as 282 MB up to as high as 4483 MB or 4.483 GB.
  • Do not use laptop external hard drives which gets its power from the PS2 USB 1.1 port.  It is not enough power.
  • You could use pen or usb flash drives, but performance will be horrible.  The game will chug, and you will have ridiculously long load times, that is, if your game can load!

Note: I understand when going through this tutorial, you may see that your PS2 may not see your USB hard drive enclosure. If that is the case, please try a different USB hard drive. I have people verifying this may fix the issue.

Tutorial Begins here *drools*:

  • Extract the USB Advance zip file that you downloaded earlier into its own folder.  You will see contents like the screenshot below:

usb tutorial ps2_1

  • Now double-click the USBAdvance-PC-Software.  You will see two programs inside it: ul_format.exe and ul_install.exe.  Extract these to your C:\.  This will make more sense later.
  • Notice there is a .bin and a .cue file.  The .cue file is 1KB, and the .bin file is 34 MB.
  • You need to burn the image file.  Use Nero, PowerIso, Alcohol120%, ImgBurn, or any other type of CD burning software and burn this image file to your blank CD-R disc.  Once the CD-R is burnt, label it and set that disc aside.
  • Now extract the other zip file called “USBExtreme_wininst” to its own folder.  You will now have a program called USBExtreme.exe.  A dedicated section to this program will be covered later in this tutorial.

Now go to preparing the USB hard drive step.

Preparing the USB hard drive:

  • Insert USB hard drive to your PC.
  • It is important that the USB hard drive is FAT32. If it is not, go to My Computer, right click the USB drive, and go to quick format for FAT32.
  • If your hard drive is FAT32, great. No need to format it again.
  • You can also launch the USBExtreme Software, go to the format tab, and tell it to format your USB drive as well as shown below:
usb extreme format

Here the I: drive is my USB drive.

Note: If you want, but not required, you can use the ul_format.exe command to format your USB hard drive.  This is how to use it:

  • Go to Start -> Run.
  • Type “cmd” and press enter.
  • Go to your C:\ root.
  • The command to use the program is “ul_format X format” where X is your USB hard drive.
  • Example: My USB hard drive is E:.  I would type “ul_format E format”.

We are almost done.  Let’s enable fast transfer speeds on your USB drive before we start copying games.

Enabling fast USB hard drive transfer speeds:

  • Go to My Computer->Properties->Hardware->Device Manager->Disk Drives->(external one here)->Properties->Policies->Optimize for performance. Speed varies from from 1MBps to about 10-15MBps, which is pretty fast! Also, do not forget to unplug the device the proper way (that is Unplug or eject hardware) when you remove the USB drive!

Installing games onto your USB hard drive:

This is pretty easy.  We have two methods.  Method one uses the “ul_install.exe” command, and method 2 uses the USBExtreme.exe windows software.  Both programs do the same job, and the second program is easier to use for those who are novices. 🙂

Method 1:  Using the command line

  • Insert your PS2 game into your computer’s DVD drive.
  • Go to Start -> Run.
  • Type “cmd” and press enter.
  • Navigate to your C:\> drive.
  • The command to use here is “ul_install SourceDrive TargetDrive GameName CD/DVD”.


  • I insert Viewtiful Joe PS2 game into my computer.  To verify if your game is CD or DVD format, right click on the disc and go to properties.  If the file size is less 700MB or less, then it is CD format. Anything else and it is DVD.
  • My DVD drive has letter H:\>.  My USB drive is I:\>.
  • At the command prompt on my C:\> drive, I type “ul_install H I ViewtifulJoe DVD”.  Press enter and it will start copying the game.  See picture below:



  • Here it will copy the game from my DVD drive to my USB drive and prepare it in the special USB game playing format.

Method 2:  Using the USBExtreme Windows Software

Launch the software. Insert your game.  Configure the “Gamer Installer” window for your game and click start. It will start ripping the game.


My DVD drive is letter H.  My USB drive is I.  The name of my game is The Bouncer. The type of disc I am ripping from is DVD.

usbextreme 1

After you click Start, it will prompt you:

start install

Click Yes, and then it will start ripping the game from DVD drive to the USB hard drive:

install game

When the rip is done, you will see a screen like the one below:

copied game

Repeat the process over and over for additional games and you will get a list as shown below.  When you load the USB drive from the PS2, this list will be selectable.

dead or alive 2 hardcore

Finally you are done. Let’s play on the PS2!

  • Turn on PS2.  Load your Swap Magic CD disc.
  • At the main Swap Magic screen, load your USB Advance CD-R that you burnt earlier.
  • Now you will be at the USBExtreme screen.
  • Connect USB hard drive to PS2.  Turn it on, within a few seconds, you will see your game(s) show up on the screen. Highlight your desired game, press “X”, and within 7 seconds your game will load! Enjoy!


1) Make sure to make your USB hard drive partition a primary. I am not sure if it needs to be logical drive, but I made my drive a primary partition.

Visit SKS Apps here.

Video Tutorials

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCwGs3aLZ3A&list=PL8FB2D7062B84BBBA&index=18]

Posted on January 12, 2008, in modding, playstation 2 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2,107 Comments.

  1. Hello,
    i have slim ps2 scph-90006 with it’s lense broken ,the cd drive is not working.
    i want to install a usb harddisk in it.Is there way any i can install my usb hdd in ps2 without running any cd on my console.?

    please reple asap.
    thank you

  2. Prashantcruise

    ya as you are indian you have two choice ,
    1.intenal hd(better performance)
    2.usb hd
    in the case of both you need mod chip
    Use MODBO 5.0 which have ability to boot from usb..
    (it cary matrix frimware) it is cheap

    and other optioN is internal hd you get at same price may be 2000rs

  3. Hey can i run ps1 games this way too???

  4. Prashantcruise

    @Umm there is a kit available in asian market worth 2000 rupee …..
    i forget that name
    but it is manufactured by modbo team …
    and i dnt have pic but i had seen that …

  5. Prashantcruise

    umm yea but with differenet software and different method…
    Ask salman aziz he worked on it

  6. my usb hdd is not recognised by usb extreme..
    What to do..???

    • Format your hard drive to FAT 32…..Use the USB extreme pc software to format….

      • Sir,
        I have PS2 Slim and I don’t have PS2 SD memory card to save the game.Is it possible to use USB flash drive as an alternative for SD memory card?
        To versatile I found this site from a friend saying credits to versatile
        thank you and more power

        • @Mike,
          U should say (PS2 Memory card 8MB) No SD.

          If ur running games with DVD’s, you can’t do it.
          >if u play ur games with usb/lan u can do it,but compatibility issues concerns.

    • Use OPL 0.8 Version.
      Use ulaunch.elf disk to launch it,

      download 4m http://sksapps.com/

  7. @salam aziz
    ok sir thank you for info

  8. hello versatile thank u for u videos tutorials they are great
    a have a guestion, I did everything like the tutorial said and it works (of course) but when

  9. sorry ,punch the wrong key, I try to rip my copy of ff XII to the hd there is a message saying ‘err disk’ ,i try with other games and work fine ,other games like bully, takken ,i try to make a iso image of the game and use the deamon tools to rip the game but the message is error disk can you help me

  10. Let daemon tools made the IMAGE in MDS format(just leave its settings, as it is), Check it>weather download the game, but check compatibility before download.

  11. guy pls i downloaded the usbextreme but after extracting it 2 my c:\ it was corupted pls what Can i do?

  12. I have recently purchased my ps2 is this method compatible with scph90004 cb.If not please suggest another method.

  13. im getting dizzy with the steps here..

    1. FMCB?
    2. then i do this boot ps2 games? is that correct?

    • I understand that this whole thing is tough for someone new to understand. You need to have a third party too to install Free McBoot (FMCB) which allows you to make your 8mb memory card exploited. From there, you can install homebrew programs like OPL or UsbAdvance to play games off of USB. If you go to youtube.com/GameDexterity, watch ALL of my PS2 video tutorials to get up to speed.

  14. Prashantcruise


    FMCB ISNT FOR YOUR 90004 ..

    use modchip ..
    in india modbo with matrix is famous….

    and hey
    follow step if u hav modchip..

    3. Use ulaunch to launch elf file (ie opl and ps2esdl)
    i have made a dvd with it but cant able to make iso to boot in ps2
    may be i solve it or leave that in between…


  15. i think my laser is pretty messy can i install usb advance or opl in usb?

  16. so your saying i need to buy swap magic to run the backup copy of extreme usb?? for this all to work?/

    • Rohan Sharma

      yes you need to have your ps2 modded with a modchip or FMCB or you must have swap magic to get this thing work…………….its pretty easy if you have all of these

  17. versatile you rock man
    you have saved my games from being scratched
    thumbs up man, keep me posted to new software for playing the latest games.

  18. hi please help me have ps2 with chip installed usb software on ps2 works ok got 160 hdd formatted in fat32 games on hdd with usb extreme finds game but will not load says loading and never loads iso please hlep

  19. hello do i use this off usb stick opv.8 at the same time with hhd usb

    • Put the OPL on memory card, launch it from there with FMCB, and then you can play games off of USB hard drive.

      • hey mr. versatile don’t tell everyone to use FREE MCboot because most of the people have PS2 made after march 2008

        and tell me you are the same guy who is on youtube with name GAMEDEXTERITY???

        • Wait a second man. I tell people what I know. It is their duty to come back and tell me what their model number is. If FMCB doesn’t work, then that is OK. There are tons of other solutions to consider. Yes, I am one of the co-founders of Gamedexterity, and this is my blog. Welcome.

  20. Hello,versetile u r simply awesum,

    I want ask some ques:

    1)I have a PS2 Slimline SCPH 90004,PAL Version,If i follow the instructions,Can I play games Off USB?

    2)I Don’t have any swapmagic Disc! but my ps2 is modded with a mod chip!

    3)If I Follow The steps can I play the downloaded ps2 ISO games?

  21. hey versetile!i think i am bugging u because u r so good,

    Your video is good,but i want to know that what is the first step to play usb games?

  22. let me clear,
    i live in bd in my country the blank dvd’s background is blue.If i write that will my ps2 recognize that?

  23. hey i have a 320 gb HDD which is USB 2.0 powered, so can you tell me that can i play games off that HDD???

    i have OPL 0.8 too. and USBADVANCE Too…..

    and one more thing can you tell me that when pendrives can run then why usb powered HDD can’t run??

  24. hey versaltile please help me..

    i’ve got a usb powered HDD (acer 320 GB)

    i installed game in it

    but the cutscenes are freezing again and again (i meant they freeze and then play , again they freeze and then play) (means the game and cutscenes are loading very slowly)

    so i bought external powered HDD (Seagate 1 TB) i know that it is recommended for best performance
    but the game and cutscenes are still loading very slowly

    i have done partition on 97.6 GB for ps2 games

    and installed games in it but my cutscences are again freezing… please help me!!


    Kinghdom Hearts 1 (all game’s) cutscenes are freezing

  25. please Versatile, I only a usb flash drive 8GB but usb extreme software doesn’t detect the pendrive in list of drives so please help me so that it can recognize my flash drive as HDD..
    Plss reply now…

  26. Hi
    can someone tell me the extension of the playalbe games ?
    because I’ve tried ISO and didn’t work
    also , should I emptymy flash memory off other files such as Mp3s ?

    …… Extra Info …..
    – I got Free McBoot 1.8
    – uLaunch ELF
    – Open PS2 Loader 8.0

    Thank YOU

    • You need to watch my OPL V.8 video on youtube by gamedexterity. Shows you how to use opl v.8 with isos.

    • hey friend iso will work with OPL 0.8 the thing is you haven’t named it correctly i meant
      first mout the game’s image and then look for a file that’s name is similar like

      etc etc when you have found the file copy it’s name and renam you game’s iso file like
      if you have GOD OF WAR game name it like

      SLUS_208.22.GOD OF WAR

      ensure name shouldn’t be more then 32 charcaters (including spaces)!

  27. prashantcruise

    refer to opl guide that how to use iso
    2-use ps2esdl it better than opl via usb..
    3-ya u can put any thing like mp3 /avi
    it dnt affect ur iso or loading speed…..

    @versetile reply option doesnt appear in mobile sorry

  28. hey versatile help me out i m screwed up!!!!!
    the problem is (as i mentioned on your youtube video) i.e
    i have installed games (mix games , the ISOs and ul files (usbxtreme)) in my 97.5 GB Partition outta 1 TB hdd
    the games which are compatible with OPL 0.8 are running without any lag
    but i have two games which are compatible with USB ADVANCE and the Fucking Problem Starts Here….
    i have converted it with USB Extrereme and putted down on my HDD
    earlier when i connect my HDD at USB ADVANCE screen (it used to freeze)
    but now when i connect no game list appears (and USB ADVANCE doesnn’t recognise my HDD)

    i’ve tried everything i can!!!
    meant formatted again and again with usb extreme
    maked my Fat 32 partition PRIMARY


    ONE MORE THING THAT OPL 0.8 is working!!

  29. I want work this on my PS3, I can?

  30. prashantcruise

    Hey versetile i got a problem …
    my frnd purchase a new hard drive(western digital)

    And a enclosure same as mine..

    problem is his pc(xp sp2) doesnt show his hard drive …(my computer) but when i go to control panel it show that it is connected and working properly ….

    even safely remove hardware is there so what should i do….

  31. how to install ps2 games in usb some one tell me now reply me plz plz it a requst plz plz help me

  32. prashantcruise

    read the tutorial its easiest way to do that///watch video tooo

  33. Hey Versatile,

    I had followed your notes and I can able to boot ps2 using CD and I am getting the screen to select the game, but when I select any game and start, screen goes blank. I have waited for 10 min…. but nothing has happened….I tried the game Smackdown VS RAW 2011 & 2008…but no change…

    Pls help

  34. adding to the above topics, just need to inform you that….. I am using USB powered HDD 1TB……..I had installed 3 games,,,, 2 game with 3.66 GB and 1 with 1.2 GB….3.66 GB games not playing at all but 1.2 GB games showing the screen and I can goto interface with slow speed……but can’t able to play the games….

    Is it means that without external powered USB, we can’t play games with USB?

    Thanks for all ur help.

  35. prashantcruise

    @mansor better try external power usb hdd//it will lag less..
    i havent wwe 2011 so cant tell but 2010 is playable…
    1.defrag ur hdd
    2.use ps2esdl or opl instead of usb advance
    3.check the game intsalled correctly
    4.use y cable (ebay)

    • Hey Prashant,

      You mean that USB powered HDD will not work?????

      Your 2nd point, I do not have memory but I have modchip and need to boot disk either with USB OR CD, your mentioned 2 tools can do this and how.

      Your 4 point, what is y cable???

    • Hey,

      I can able to play BrianLara 2007 perfectly with USB HDD, then what is the problem with other games?

  36. prashantcruise

    @mansor listen all new software come with new patch to be more compaitable….
    just like window 98 is there then why u use window 7… hacker team always try to improve game compability///
    so always use new software

  37. prashantcruise

    ya it must be solved…
    take a look and guide to use ps2esdl
    but if u have pc then use smb method (electricity bill pc+tv+ps2)
    go to ps2esdl @ mansur

  38. prashantcruise

    ya it must be solved…
    take a look and guide to use ps2esdl
    but if u have pc then use smb method (electricity bill pc+tv+ps2)
    go to ps2esdl
    and as per other
    you need ulaunch dvd (download from sksapps
    the dvd iso of ulaunch and burn it ) use its file browser to launch elf file ok@ mansur

  39. Hello Versatile
    Your effort is really very very appreciate able… 🙂
    but i ‘ve a lil prob.
    I dont have external Hard Drive.., only have 4-8gb Pen Drive..
    Is there any mothod ? How to Copy the Games in my USB Pen Drive ??
    Becoz your USBExtreme.exe doesn’t pick my Pen Drive.. 😦 😥

    Waiting for your Kind reply..


  40. One More Question..

    I Have so many PS2 Games in .ISO format..
    * Any mothod to copy them in my USB Pen Drive directly from my Computer Hard Drive Without Using DVD Rom… ???

  41. Thank You.. 🙂
    i have done with it, it is taking too much time to loading the title…

    • Dear Versatile
      Can u plzz Express .. How to Install “Free Mc Boot 1.8 ” in my Slim PS2 SCPH 90004 CB

      • Free Mc BooT Will not Install in your PS2 because fremcboot is made for the ps2 made before march 08 …

        i have the same version of ps2 ( the one you’re having) i.e 90004 i also tried to install free mcboot but it didn’t worked, so you should try ULAUNCH.elf DISC to Boot Applications like OPL 0.8 or PS2EDL or USBADVANCE

        download all of the above from http://www.sksapps.com!

  42. Thanx once again to Versatile & shivendra for your Great Help
    Now i gonna try it.. 😉

  43. Please Help Me I Have Model No Scph 90004 When I Attach Pen drive It Will Not Detect That
    What Can I Do Please Help Me I Have Copied Everything In That But Its Not Happening

  44. Hey Versatile
    Would you know how this USB method compares with the one where you put the HDD in the expansion bay using a network adapter, with reference to the performance and game compatibility? I’m trying to decide which one to use on my ps2 fat. If the difference in the performance and game compatibility is not that much I’d probably try your USB method since it would be a lot cheaper. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    • I have a FAT PS2 and a Slim PS2. About two months ago I finally got the network adapter kit for my fat PS2. The internal HD is by far the BEST way for game performance. If you have a FAT PS2, and have the funds, going the internal hard drive is the best thing you can do ever. You will become the hero of the neighborhood, as every father, son, mother, and daughter wishes they can do what you can do.

      If money is tight, then go the USB method. xD

  45. pls i need help urgently, i av a ps2 model schp-75004 and i installed the mcboot method using ulaunch.elf cd and usb pen wit the require settings, folder and .elf’s to my memcard. Bt the probs is dat i alwayz get stuck wit a screen dat reads ‘free Mcboot’ when i reset wit my memory card inserted. I really need to boot games frm usb since my laser is gettin weak

  46. before i formatted my memory card, free mcboot was working, bt wit the start up screen dat includes insert ulaunch.elf disc. Nw after formatting and reinstallin freemcboot, its stuck wit jst ‘free mcboot’ screen wit no options on the screen. I’ll appreciate ur directns

  47. After booting d game wit usb can we take the cd out while playin or it may cause any interruption and every time we play using usb do we need to insert the cd???

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