Despite the fact that solid-state drives (SSDs) read and write data much faster than mechanical hard drives do, the PlayStation 4, Sony’s latest gaming console, comes with the latter.
Fortunately, Sony built the PS4 so that its users and owners could swap out the mechanical drive with a solid state drive.
Related: How to install an SSD in a laptop
With a few basic tools, you can upgrade your PS4 with an SSD in no time at all. Here’s a glimpse at what an SSD can do for your PS4, and 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 to 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.
Related: Samsung launches 850 Pro SSDs
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.
With your save files backed up, now you’re ready to perform some surgery on your PS4.
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.