Despite the fact that solid-state drives (SSDs) read and write data much faster than mechanical hard drives do, the PlayStation 4 and even the PlayStation 4 Pro come with the latter. Fortunately, Sony made the PS4 hard drive replaceable, so users can expand the consoles internal storage or, better yet, swap out the mechanical drive with a solid state drive.
With a few basic tools, you can add an SSD to your PS4 in no time at all. Here’s a glimpse at what an SSD can do for you, and instructions on how to drop one in yourself.
SSDs vs. mechanical hard drives
Before we swapped out the PS4’s hard drive with an SSD, we tested the hard drive that the system came with by measuring the amount of time the PS4 needed to boot up to the screen where the OS asks you to press the PS button on your controller. We tested it twice, and got times of 27 seconds, and 24.9 seconds.
Once we removed the PS4’s hard drive and performed the task that we’re about to take you through, we ran the boot tests again. We got boot times of 19.2 and 19.4 seconds with the SSD in there. So, boot-up is anywhere between roughly 5-8 seconds faster with an SSD than with the mechanical hard drive that the PlayStation 4 ships with.
If you don’t think that’s significant, remember that loading save games, loading levels, and more will also get substantially faster. Over time, those shaved seconds will make your PS4 feel a lot faster.
How to install an SSD in a PlayStation 4
First, you need to gather a few materials. You’ll need an adjustable screwdriver, a 2.5-inch SSD larger than 160GB and no more than 9.5mm thick, and two USB flash drives.
Be sure to save your save game files to the second USB flash drive by going to the PS4’s Settings menu. From there, go to Application Saved Data Management, Saved Data in System Storage, and then Copy to USB Storage Device to save your files to your second USB flash drive.
Place the PlayStation 4 on a secure surface, and press down on the glossy, black side of the top panel. With the system’s front facing you, slide the panel leftward. It should slide right off; no screws needed.
Remove the screw at the very front of the PS4 which keeps the hard drive bay locked down. It’s easy to identify, because it wears the same circle, X, square, and triangle buttons found on the PlayStation 4’s controller. It’s a Phillips screw, but you may need a smaller-than-usual bit to get it out without stripping it, as we helpfully and definitely intentionally did for this photo to demonstrate.
Pull the hard drive dock towards you, and remove the PS4’s hard drive. It should slide right out.
Once you pull out the hard drive, you’ll find that it’s still guarded by a metal cage that’s locked down by four black screws. These screws are located on the sides of this cage, with two sitting on each side. Unscrew them with a standard Phillips bit.
Slide the PS4 hard drive out of the cage.
Place your 2.5-inch solid state drive into the cage, and orient it the same way that the PS4’s original drive was. For reference, we stacked the PS4 hard drive and our SSD on top of one another in the above image. Notice how each drive’s back ports look exactly the same, and are in the same exact places.
Screw the SSD into the cage with the four black screws that you removed previously.
Slide the hard-drive cage back into the PS4’s hard drive bay.
Lock the PS4’s hard drive bay back down with the same screw that you removed to unlock it, using a small Phillips bit.
Slide the PS4’s top panel back onto the system. Then, hook your PS4 back up, but do not turn it back on yet. This is where your other USB flash drive comes in.
Using a computer, download the latest PS4 operating system update file by visiting Sony and clicking the “Download Now” link. This will ensure you get the latest version.
Plug in your other USB flash drive into your computer. Open it, and create a folder on the drive named “PS4.” Then, open the PS4 folder, and create another folder in there named “UPDATE.”
Once you finish downloading the PS4 OS update file (which is called PS4UPDATE.PUP), drag it over to your flash drive, and place it in the UPDATE folder. Remember, the UPDATE folder needs to be inside the PS4 folder on your flash drive in order for this process to work.
Eject your flash drive from your computer safely, and plug it into one of your PS4′s front-mounted USB ports. These are the same ports that you can use to plug in your DualShock 4 controller.
Press and hold your PS4’s power button for 7 to 10 seconds. This will force it to boot into Safe Mode.
Once you’re at the PS4’s Safe Mode menu, select the “Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software)” option, which should be seventh on the list from the top of the screen. Your PS4 will scan the flash drive you plugged in for the update file that you downloaded using your computer. It may take 20 or 30 seconds, but the next screen that comes up will take you through some simple instructions on how to install the PS4’s operating system onto the SSD you just put in the console. This part of the process isn’t complicated at all; you’ll just have to press the X button on your PS4 controller a few times.
Once the PS4 OS is installed, you’ll be good to go!
All you’ll need to do is to copy the save-game files that you saved to your other flash drive back to PS4’s new SSD. You can do that by plugging in that USB flash drive into your PS4, opening the console’s Settings menu, and going to Application Saved Data Management, Saved Data on USB Storage Device, Copy to System Storage.