Preserving the Vita – Upgrading My Vita TV

A little follow-up on backing up and preserving my game collection in light of the PS3, PSP, and Vita stores shutting down in a couple months:

Hack your Vita and/or PS TV.

Back in January, I made the move to finally buy a PS TV. I always said not being able to play Persona 4 Golden on my TV is why I never finished the game. Then my Persona-obsessed friend mentioned there was some sort of HD patch for P4G if you hacked your PS TV. I was interested in the process beforehand so I could whitelist games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and utilize homebrew software like Sharpscale, thanks to a video from My Life in Gaming. The downside to this move was that I needed to use my one and only proprietary Vita memory card of 16GB for my PS TV, leaving my poor Vita without any storage, making it essentially unplayable.

Since the announcement of the Vita store’s closure, I’ve been researching how to expand my PS TV storage since Vita memory cards are still outrageously expensive. I came across two options; something called the SD2Vita and a USB mass storage route. The SD2Vita is an adapter that goes into the game card slot and uses an SD card. Hack the system and voilà, you have extra storage. I’m not a fan of this though since it takes up the game slot, not the memory card slot, thus taking my physical games out of play.

This left me with the USB mass storage route, which was both easier and more frustrating than I expected. It was more simple because I already had the tools in place and more frustrating because I did not understand the file structure of the PS TV and its games. Searching online will lead you toward plugins, but if you hack your PS TV, you ought to have VitaShell installed. VitaShell has the ability to mount USB storage as the Vita system’s main memory source (“ux0”)  built right in. Launch VitaShell, plug in the USB drive (formatted exFat with a Master Boot Record [MBR] partition), and press Triangle to open a menu to mount. This did leave me with the need to redownload all my Vita games, which took all day over a wireless connection. Maybe there was some workaround I could have down via FTP or copying files over from the memory card, but I could not find the answer.

Where I ran into trouble was reinstalling all my homebrew plugins—Sharpscale, PSVShell, a DualShock motion sensor, and Whitelist. Turns out installing these while the USB drive was mounted was causing the issue. So, I installed all my homebrew directly on the PS TV itself and then mounted the USB drive and everything worked out perfectly.

I share all this to call attention to the time and effort it will take to back these games up and get your console ready for the store’s final days. This is not something you want to wait until the last minute for. Enabling USB storage on my PS TV has given my Vita its memory card back, while allowing me to download more games on a Vita platform than I’ve ever had. It also let me back that USB drive up to my laptop and my backup service so I can keep redundant copies of my Vita data, should anything dire happen to the drive itself (or I upgrade it).

The Vita is a wonderful system with an incredible legacy. If you own one or a PS TV, I implore you to download your games and buy the ones you want in these next two months. And if you are comfortable with it, hack the console to unlock more features and capabilities. These next few months will be a crucial time to prepare the way for and preserve your Vita collection.