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Various PlayStation 3 operations prompt you not to shut down your console while they are in progress. For example, you are to avoid shutting down your console while performing one of the following:

  • Updating the firmware
  • Installing games/patches
  • Saving a game's progress

Some of these operations are quite lengthy, making me feel very uneasy until they complete (who knows when a power outage might strike?)

My question is, what are the implications of the console shutting down during such an operation? Obviously some operations are more "dangerous" than others, as I imagine losing power during a firmware update can prove very unpleasant, so please specify which interrupted operations lead to which problems.

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Hmm, good question. It seems like consoles (and lazily-ported PC games) have been warning us never to turn them off since the dawn of flash memory... –  Brant Jul 28 '11 at 16:07
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted
  1. Firmware are small bits of programs that internally control all the other pieces of hardware on the device. If a firmware update is interrupted, then you run into the high risk of turning your device into a 'brick' and thus make it very hard, if not impossible, to repair.

  2. Its often okay to interrupt the process when installing games/patches, most software is smart enough to recognize an interruption and either continue where it left off, or restart the process. Worst case scenario, you have to reinstall the game, not a huge loss you can't recover from.

  3. Interrupting saving a game can result in corrupted save game files, which means that you will lose all your progress unless you have backups.

In summary, there is a reason why that message is there. Unfortunately, its getting longer and longer, but its necessary. Try to avoid interrupting any of these as much as possible as you'll lose a few hours of your life reinstalling games at best and completely destroy all your progress in a game or breaking your hardware in the worst case.

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You forgot to mention that there's a chance that unplugging the PS3 while it's reading/writing to the hard-drive could cause the hard-drive to crash, meaning you'd lose all the data on it. This isn't quite as catastrophic as it would be on a PC, since the OS is not stored on the hard-drive (so you'd still be able to boot up, at least), and all your purchases/trophies are stored online, but you'd still lose all your save-games - unless those were saved online (link) as well. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jul 28 '11 at 16:46
    
@Blue - I think that's much, much less likely now than it was in older days: there was another question somewhere that went into more detail about it, but I can't find it now. This page covers it briefly: basically, modern HD technology has failsafes that weren't around in the old days. Realistically, that risk now is just to your saved games. –  Dave DuPlantis Jul 28 '11 at 17:01
    
I gathered as much. I wonder if I'll get sufficiently paranoid so as to get a UPS for my PS3, even though I find it a little absurd. –  Aubergine Jul 28 '11 at 17:04
    
Could you reword your last sentence? It's very awkward, and I'm not sure what you are trying to say (or I would edit it myself). –  Wipqozn Jul 28 '11 at 20:08
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In certain cases (e.g., during saves) it may be a case of corrupting files, making them unreadable. Not catastrophic, but losing 100+ hours on an RPG can't be fun for anyone. I imagine modern game design will try to avoid this by, for example, backing up previous save games until the new save game has been written and verified, but there's always the danger.

As you say, it's probably a lot more dangerous to lose power during firmware updates. I'm sure Sony do all they can to mitigate the risks, though. If I'm not mistaken, turning the PS3 off during a firmware update will pause the update and let it continue next time you turn it on - not sure if it would behave the same way during a power loss, though...

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