I wouldn't call it foolproof because it's lengthy, but there is a relatively straightforward way of transferring your data. It's called the data transfer utility and requires an ethernet cable. The manual states the following:
Preparing the systems to transfer data
Before starting the data transfer operation, you must perform the following steps.
- Update the system software of both PS3™ systems to the latest version.
- Prepare the PS3™ system that will send the data (the “source system”).
If multiple users exist on the source PS3™ system, you must perform the following operations for all of the users before starting the data transfer operation.
- Create a PlayStation®Network account if a user does not have an account. - Select (PlayStation®Network) > (Sign Up), and then follow the on-screen instructions to create an account.
- Deactivate the PS3™ system if the data to be transferred contains content that was purchased from PlayStation®Store. - Select (PlayStation®Network) > (Account Management) > (System Activation).
- Back up, or "sync", trophy information on the PS3™ system with the PlayStation®Network server if you want to transfer trophy information. - Sign in to PlayStation®Network, and then select (Game) > (Trophy Collection).
- Sign in to (PlayStation®Home) before transferring the data if you have obtained reward items for use in (PlayStation®Home) on the source system.
- Back up your profile information and stages you created in LittleBigPlanet™ to your saved game. You can then use the data that was backed up when playing LittleBigPlanet™ on the destination PS3™ system.
The following restrictions apply if you perform the data transfer operation without creating a PlayStation®Network account:
- You may not be able to use the saved data on the destination PS3™ system.
- You may no longer be able to earn trophies using the saved data that you transferred.
- Trophy information is not transferred.
Turn off both PS3™ systems, and then perform the following steps. If the transferred data is saved game data that is copy-prohibited or data that is copyright-protected, it will be moved to the destination PS3™ system and deleted from the source PS3™ system.
- Using an Ethernet cable, make a direct connection between the two PS3™ systems.
You can use either an Ethernet straight-through cable or an Ethernet crossover cable.
- Connect the PS3™ systems to different video input connectors on the TV.
For example, use the HDMI input connector and the video input connector on the TV.
- Turn on the TV, and then turn on the PS3™ systems.
Use the TV remote control to switch the video input to display the screen of the source PS3™ system.
- On the source PS3™ system, select (Settings) > (System Settings) > [Data Transfer Utility].
- Select [1. Transfer data from this system to the other PS3™ system.]. If you did not complete the preparation steps described earlier, follow the on-screen instructions to complete these steps.
- When the PS3™ system is on standby to begin the data transfer, use the TV remote control to switch the video input to display the screen of the destination PS3™ system.
- On the destination PS3™ system, select (Settings) > (System Settings) > [Data Transfer Utility].
- Select [2. Transfer data from the other PS3™ system to this system.] Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the operation.
After the data transfer operation has been completed, you can turn off the source PS3™ system. Set the TV to display the screen of the source PS3™ system, and then select (Users) > (Turn Off System).
If content that was downloaded from PlayStation®Store was transferred as part of this operation, you must activate the destination PS3™ system before you can use the data. Log in to the PS3™ system as the user who owns the content, and then select (PlayStation®Network) > (Account Management) > (System Activation) to activate the system.
Limitations of the data transfer utility
Some types of data cannot be transferred using the data transfer utility, and some types of data can be transferred but not played on the destination PS3™ system.
For the latest information, visit the SCE website for your region. The following types of data are not transferrable:
- Video content that has been downloaded as a rental from PlayStation®Store (file type: MNV)
- Tracks (including "songpacks") for the SingStar™ software that have been saved on the PS3™ system's hard disk
- Copyright-protected video files (file types: MGV and ETS)
- Video files that are compatible with the DivX® VOD (Video On Demand) service
- The following PlayStation®2 format software titles, if they are installed on the PS3™ system's hard disk:
- [Nobunaga's Ambition Online] and [Expansion Packs]
- [FINAL FANTASY XI] and [Expansion Discs]
- [SOCOM II: U.S. NAVY SEALs] and [Related discs included with OPM* Issue 87, OPM* Issue 88, OPM* Issue 89, OPM* Issue 90]
- SOCOM 3: U.S. NAVY SEALs
- SOCOM: U.S. NAVY SEALs Combined Assault
For the following data types, you must perform some additional steps after completing the data transfer to be able to use the data:
Some software titles may not be sold in some regions.
Just so you know, the destination console may shut itself down after the transfer is complete.
If you also intend to swap hard drives
This is slightly harder. As you probably know by this point, PS3s format their drives on install so it's not like you can just plug your old drive in an go. There is this handy guide on how to do this. In it it mentions this useful backup tool as well as the data transfer tool.
The guide states as follows:
...to avoid redownloading gigabytes upon gigabytes worth of digital gaming and destroying my monthly bandwidth alottment, I did the following:
- Backed up my protected saves just in case things didn’t go according to plan.
- Purged unnecessary game data (ie: installs, patches, demos etc)
- Performed a backup to an external hard drive using the Backup Utility
- Once the backup was complete, removed the hard drives (320GB & 160GB in my case) from both consoles and swapped them.
- Booted up each console and performed the requested formatting of each drive.
- Restored the backup from step 3 onto the old PlayStation 3.
- Once the restore was complete, initiated a transfer via the Data Transfer Utility
The Data Transfer Utility worked as described; all my PSN games, themes and saves (protected and otherwise) made it across the Ethernet cable into the new PS3.
Note: The destination console may shut itself down after the transfer is complete.