This tutorial assumes that you already have a PS Vita or PS TV that are capable of running homebrew software, and that you already have VitaShell and h-encore installed and know how to use them. It also assumes that you know how to transfer VPK files to the system and install them. If you’re using a PS TV, it assumes that you know how to FTP files to and from the PS TV with the FTP VitaShell feature. If you don’t know what I’m talking about at all, you can follow Part 1 and Part 2 of my previous set of tutorials for the PS Vita, or my single tutorial for the PS TV.
I will reference the PS Vita method in this tutorial, but it will work for the PS TV as well. Note that in sections where I mention directly connecting the Vita to your PC via USB, you’ll follow the same instructions but simply connect to the PS TV via FTP instead. If you’re doing this on a PS TV that you softmodded yourself, you should be comfortable doing that by now.
Before You Begin
Before you begin you’ll need a few things.
- Ensure you are running the latest copy of VitaShell. Old versions can cause issues with this process.
- You’ll need a micro SD card that’s equivalent size or larger to your PS Vita memory card. Since large Vita cards aren’t common, this shouldn’t be an issue.
- You’ll need an SD2Vita adapter, which adapts a microSD card to the gamecard slot on your Vita. More on this below.
- You’ll need a Vita that has already been hacked and can run homebrew code. You can do this by following Part 1 and Part 2 of this guide. Ensure everything is working before following this guide.
- You’ll need to ensure that all of your .skprx plug-ins are located in the ur0:tai folder and not the ux0:tai folder and that ur0:tai\config.txt does not have any references to plug-ins on ux0:. If you followed my guide to softmod your Vita, this shouldn’t be an issue. If you have plug-ins installed on ux0:tai, you’ll have to move them and update the ur0:tai\config.txt file accordingly.
SD2Vita Adapters and microSD Cards
The latest version of SD2Vita adapters at the time of this writing is version 5.0. Contrary to some things I’ve read online from only a few short months ago, SD2Vita does work with the latest version (3.68) of the Vita firmware now. When you buy a SD2Vita adapter, just ensure you get a version 5.0 card. There are many of them for sale for less than $6 shipped on eBay. In addition to the SD2Vita adapter, you’ll also need a microSD card. I would recommend getting a U1 or U3 speed micro SD card. The microSD adapter is not compatible with UHS-III, so getting a V-rated micro SD card won’t yield you any speed gains, it’ll just be much more expensive.
Install the TF Card Plug-in Tool
Launch VitaShell on the Vita, ensure it’s in USB mode, and press Select to enable the USB connection. We’re going to download and install a utility that will let us mount the SD2Vita card as either ux0: or uma0:, and even switch between the two.
Download the latest version of TF.Card.Plugin.Tool.ENG.vpk from this site: https://github.com/theheroGAC/TF-Card-Plugin-Tool/releases.
Using VitaShell, install the VPK on your Vita. We’ll use this application later.
Preparing and Formatting the SD Card
Insert the micro SD card that you’ll be using with your SD2Vita adapter in to your PC’s SD card slot via an adapter, or via a USB micro SD card reader. Download Win32DiskImager and install it. You’ll also need a 1024 byte file, renamed with the .img extension, that contains 1024 zero characters. I have uploaded a file here that you can use.
Use Win32DiskImager to write the blank.img file to your SD card. In order to not overwrite any other external drives that you have plugged in to the PC, you should remove them before launching Win32DiskImager and ensure that the only card (or external USB device) you have inserted is the one you want to write to, just to be safe. Choose the drive letter that your micro SD card is mounted under from the interface, browse for the path to the blank.img file, select it, and click the Write button.
This should write the contents of blank.img (zeroes) to the first 1024 bytes of the micro SD card. We’re going to format the remaining disk space with the extfat file system by way of the Windows disk format utility.
Remove the micro SD card from the computer and then re-insert it. Since we shimmed a 1024 byte partition at the beginning of the drive, we broke the original partition and Windows should be telling you that your micro SD card has to be formatted before using it. That’s fine. Choose Format Disk and set the File system type to extFAT, and make sure the Allocation unit size is set to Default allocation size. Ensure Quick Format is selected, that the volume label is blank, and click Start.
Formatting should be very fast. The micro SD card should now be prepped to use in the Vita, so we’ll now need to copy the entire contents of our existing Vita memory card over to the micro SD card.
Backup Vita Memory Card to the PC
At this point you’ll want to make a settings change in Windows Explorer. In order to see all of the files on the Vita’s memory card when we mount it in Windows via VitaShell, we’ll need to enable the ability to see hidden and system files. To do this, press Windows Key + E to open Explorer. Click the View tab and click the arrow under Options. Choose Change folder and search options from the pull-down menu. In the dialog that appears, click the View tab, scroll down and click the radio button next to Show hidden files, folders and drives and uncheck the box next to Hide Protected Operating System Files (Recommended). Click Ok. If you don’t do this step you won’t be able to copy all of your files from the Vita’s memory card to the micro SD card and your SD2Vita install will fail.
Launch VitaShell on the Vita, ensure it’s in USB mode, and press Select to enable the USB connection. Connect it to a PC and open it in Explorer. You’ll now see a bunch of files/folders that we couldn’t see before, since most of them are hidden or marked as system files. Create a directory somewhere on your PC that will serve as a backup, and copy all of these files and directories to that backup folder. Depending on what you have installed, this could take a long time.
When the backup is complete, disconnect your Vita from the PC.
Mounting the micro SD Card with the S2Vita Adapter
Before we go any further you’ll want to take the micro SD card you formatted and insert it into your SD2Vita adapter. Insert the adapter in to the Vita’s gamecard slot and launch the TF Card Plug-In Tool we installed earlier.
Select the first option SD2VITA = uma0 / MemoryCard = ux0 and press Circle. Press Circle again to confirm the install, and press Circle a third time to reboot the Vita.
What this does for you is to automatically install a .skprx plugin called StorageManager to ur0: and properly configures it to automatically mount the sd2vita card at system boot. It also writes a config file that tells StorageManager where the VIta memory card should be mounted and where the SD2Vita card should be mounted. You could do this manually, but this small app makes our lives that much easier.
When the system reboots, don’t forget to launch h-encore and install HENKAKU, and then launch VitaShell.
From within VitaShell navigate to the root of the device (“…” option) so you can see all mounted volumes. You should see uma0: with the correct size of your micro SD card shown. Success!
Copying Vita Memory Card Backup to the micro SD Card
Make sure your Vita is connected to the PC with USB. Press Start to bring up the VitaShell menu. Arrow down to USB Device and arrow right until it says sd2vita. Press Circle to go back out of the menu and then press Select. Your Vita will again be mounted as a drive on your PC, but this time you should see the contents of the micro SD card, which should be empty.
At this point you’ll want to take the entire contents of the Vita memory card backup that we made above and copy them all to the micro SD card. Once everything is copied, you’ll want to delete your tai folder from the micro SD card.
On a side note – I would suggest keeping a copy of your Vita memory card backed up to your PC just in case something goes wrong with the SD2Vita adapter and you need to restore your system to a new SD card or Vita memory card. To save a lot of space you could remove all of the PCSG* directories (except PCSG90096) from the \app folder. This will remove all of your actual game backups and would reduce the size of the backup significantly.
Swapping SD2Vita to the ux0: Mount Point
Exit VitaShell and launch the TF Card Plug-In Tool we installed earlier. This time we’ll choose the option SD2VITA = ux0 / MemoryCard = uma0. Reboot the Vita when asked and make sure everything comes up ok. In VitaShell you’ll see that ux0: now matches the size of your micro SD card, and your Vita Memory Card should be mounted as uma0:.
Note that if you have a “fat” version of the Vita (the one with the OLED screen), you will need to keep both your memory card and SD2Vita inserted for the system to work properly. This is because HENkaku requires a memory card to properly run, since it’s initialized before the SD2Vita driver can be loaded to mount the SD2Vita card. If you remove your Vita memory card, you’ll boot to a Vita home screen with no bubbles except the factory installed applications. You will not be able to launch h-encore or VitaShell (or any other software) because the bubbles for them won’t exist.
Knowing that, however, you can launch VitaShell (or connect via USB to a Windows PC) and delete all of the large games files from uma0:app. This will free up almost all of the space on your Vita card to use for other things. I would not recommend wiping the Vita card completely, or removing any other files aside from games you installed in the app directory, as if you do this there will be no way to recover the Vita should something happen to your micro SD card.
Games installed by PKGj will always install to ux0: (which is now your micro SD card), and generally all of your Vita games will run from there was well. You do have the option to create new directories on uma0: to store other files and non-Vita games and things though.
That’s it! The SD2Vita adapter is a pretty sweet piece of equipment for less than $10 shipped, and will let you get the most out of your Vita without having to spend a ton of money on Sony’s proprietary Vita memory cards. I imported a 64GB Vita memory card from Japan years ago for around $100, and a quick search reveals that they’re still fetching that price today. Ridiculous. Using a micro SD card is much cheaper and much more convenient should you ever need to replace it, as they’re everywhere.