Running out of disk space on your PS4 with those monthly PlayStation Plus releases? Maybe those long load times are slowly eating away at your sanity. That tiny, slow drive that comes standard with the PS4 leads to nothing but heartbreak, but you do have options at your disposal. It’s easy to swap out the default hard drive for something much better, but what about all the cool stuff already on your drive?
Today, we’ll walk through the process of backing up your files and how you can upgrade your console with little more than a screwdriver, a new internal drive, and an external backup. And if you’re worried about losing your copy of P.T., this process will keep your game installations safe even if you suffer a drive failure.
To get the ball rolling, you’ll need to plug in your external drive over USB. It needs to be formatted using FAT32 or exFAT, and if you want to back up a full drive, the external drive should have at least the same capacity as the internal drive.
Launch the Settings app from the PS4’s main menu. Select the System option, go down to Back Up and Restore, and then go into the Back Up PS4 sub-menu.
At this point, you may be notified that your trophies can’t be backed up. Of course, trophies sync over PSN, so that’s not a problem. If you’re sure that everything is already synced, just select “OK.” If you want to make sure that all of your trophies are properly synced, you should back out, launch the Trophies app, and make sure that everything is copacetic before continuing.
Once you get to this menu, you’ll likely have to wait a few minutes while the total data usage is tallied. Once it’s done scrutinizing your drives, you’ll see how much space is being taken up by captures, saved data, settings, and installed applications. On the right-hand side, you’ll see how much space you’ll have left on the external drive after the back up is finished.
See that checkbox next to the applications section? Unchecking it will skip the back up process for your game installations. Since almost all apps and games can be downloaded again from PSN at any point, you can skip this part of the back up if you’d like. However, it’s possible that some titles will eventually become inaccessible (like P.T.), so you’re better off safe than sorry.
After you’ve chosen what you want to back up, hit the “Next” button.
From here, you’ll be able to give the back up a descriptive name. When you’re ready to proceed, press the “Back Up” button. You’ll be greeted with a screen that says “Preparing to back up,” and you’ll see a progress bar. Once finished, the screen will go blank, and your PS4 will reboot.
After a small wait, you’ll be told that you’re in the process of backing up your data, and that you shouldn’t turn off your PS4. This part of the process will most certainly take up the most amount of time. Depending on the size of your back up, and the speed of your external drive, it could even take hours to finish.
Once it’s done backing up your data, the screen will say “Backup complete. The PS4 will restart.” Make sure your controller is on by pressing the “PS” button on your DualShock 4, and then select “OK” on the screen. Once the reboot is finished, you’re all set. You can use your PS4 as normal, or follow the rest of this guide to upgrade your drive, and restore your data.
If you’re going to bother swapping out your hard drive, you should definitely pick a replacement that’s both faster and higher capacity. When I bought my PS4 at launch, I snagged this 1TB 7200RPM drive from HGST. It’s not the biggest or fastest, but it’s a nice step up from the default 500GB 5400RPM drive, and it’s quite affordable.
You can go with an SSHD or SSD if you’re willing to spend the extra money, but the performance improvements will vary wildly depending on which games you play and how you use your PS4. Just make sure you buy a 2.5-inch SATA II-compatible drive that’s 9.5mm thick or smaller, and everything should work out fine.
If you want to use a bigger drive on your PS4, the Nyko Data Bank is an affordable way to make that happen. There have been some issues in the past with drives with a capacity over 2TB, but the latest firmware seems to have solved the issue. Your milage may vary.
Once you have your drive ready to go, power down your PS4, and unplug everything. Move it over to a large open surface, and slide off the shiny part of the PS4’s case. Set it aside.
With the top of the case off, you’ll see where the drive sits right away. With a phillips screwdriver, remove the single screw holding the drive in place. Slide out the tray, swap the drives, replace the tray, and secure the screw. Slap on the case once more, and plug everything back in.
When you boot up the PS4 with a new drive, you’ll need to initialize it. Button through the menu, and follow the on-screen prompts. If everything goes as planned, the PS4 should boot to the main menu once the initialization is finished. Now you can log into your PSN account again.
When you’re ready to restore from your external drive, launch the Settings app from the PS4 main menu. Go to System, and then button through to the Back Up and Restore menu. Now, go to Restore PS4.
From here, select which backup you want, and then press the “Restore” button. Depending on the drive and size of the backup, this process could take a very long time to complete. Follow the prompts, don’t turn off your PS4 during the process, and have patience. Once everything is finished, everything will be back where it belongs.
Finally, your new hard drive is in place, and you have room to keep your library installed. And if you’re looking to give your drive a workout, check out some of the free-to-play titles available on the PS4. This is the perfect opportunity to expand your horizons without having to uninstall your favorite games.