Sometimes, you just need to start from scratch, even with a game console. Whether you’re trying to fix an error you haven’t been able to solve with our solutions guide, you’re having trouble beta testing the latest Playstation software update, or you’re getting ready to upgrade to the more powerful Playstation 4 Pro, you’ll want to know how to return your PS4 to pristine condition. To do that, you need to “factory reset” your PS4, which reverts it back to its original, out-of-the-box state.
A factory reset wipes the console’s hard drive, and can even remove its system software. It’s a last resort when a software glitch stops your PS4 dead in its tracks, particularly when booting up, or when you want to make sure the console no longer has your data on it. There are two ways to reset your PS4: From the main menu if you can access the PlayStation 4 dashboard, or from Safe Mode if the console is having boot-up issues.
Performing a factory reset is a big deal, though. It deletes all your data from the PS4’s internal hard drive, so you’re going to want to make sure that information is backed up, if you can access it.
Remember: Once you factory reset your PS4, there’s no going back. You can backup your data to an external device or to the cloud — as you would if you were transferring data from one PS4 to another, for example — if you have a PlayStation Plus account.
Performing a factory reset from the dashboard
Step 1: Sign in to your PS4 and head to the settings menu
Step 2: Deactivate your PlayStation Account — If you plan to sell your PS4 or switch to a new console like the Playstation 4 Pro, you need to deactivate your account on the console. First, you’ll want to deactivate the machine as your primary PlayStation 4. That setting allows you to play downloaded games offline by identifying this particular PS4 as your PS4. Miss this step, and you’ll encounter a host of other problems when you sign on to a new PS4 and want to play your games.
Start in the settings menu and find the option for “PlayStation Network/Account Management.” Go to “Activate as Your Primary PS4.” Your PS4 will probably already be activated. If that’s the case, the “Activate” option will be grayed out and “Deactivate” will be the only choice you can select. If you want to be absolutely sure your account is deactivated, you can choose “Activate,” follow the on-screen prompts, and then return to this setting to select “Deactivate.” It’s worth being doubly-sure that your account is not activated on a PS4 you mean to factory reset.
Step 3: Sign back in with your user account — It’s different from your PS4 account. Then, head to the Settings menu again.
Step 4: In the Settings menu, find the “Initialization” option at the bottom of the menu — Here, you’ll find the two options you’re looking for: “Restore Default Settings” and “Initialize PS4.” The first option will clear your saved settings data and return the PS4 to its factory settings, but it won’t wipe your hard drive.
The second option is the big one that will clear your hard drive of data, including downloaded games, saved game data, and anything else you’ve added to the console since buying it. This will restore your PS4 to the pristine condition of how it came out of the box.
Step 5: Choose “Full” on the “Initialize” screen — The big wipe is the one you’re looking for. Note that it’ll take a long time — probably a couple of hours or more.
Once you’ve initialized the wipe, the PS4 will give you a progress bar showing how long it’ll take, but expect it to take even longer as the console goes through multiple steps. When it is finished, you’ll be able to set up your PS4 the same way you did the first time you turned it on. If you’re looking to sell it, you’ll be handing it over completely fresh and with no data attached.
Performing a factory reset from Safe Mode
If you’re having trouble with system software or other errors that are preventing you from getting to the Settings menu and re-initializing your PS4, you can access the same options from the console’s Safe Mode.
Step 1: Turn your PS4 fully off — Don’t set it to “Rest Mode.” You want the power completely off on your console so you can boot into Safe Mode.
Step 2: Hold down the power button until you hear two beeps — You need to physically push the power button on the console, rather than starting it with a controller. Hold it for about eight seconds. It will beep once when you first touch the button, and then again before booting up into Safe Mode. It will be labeled, and you’ll recognize it by its black background.
Step 3: Choose the reset option you need — Like in the Settings menu, in Safe Mode you can choose “Restore Default Settings” to reset everything in the PS4 to its original software settings but keep your data. You can also choose “Initialize PS4,” which will wipe your hard drive and restore you to factory settings, but keep the system software — its operating system, in other words. The last option is “Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software),” which is an even fuller factory reset that will require you to reinstall the PS4’s operating system.
Step 4: If you’re not having software problems, pick “6. Initialize PS4” — That’ll restore your hard drive and software settings to the factory default but it’ll leave the operating system software intact. It’s the same as the option above (available in the Settings menu), and you’ll be able to choose between “Quick” and “Full” initializations. If that’s all you need, you’re done.
Performing a factory reset from Safe Mode and reinstalling system software
This is an even bigger wipe than the previous full initialization, removing all software from the console. If you do that, you’ll need to reinstall system software from another device. If you’re having software problems with the operating system, you’ll need to pick “7. Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software),” but there’s another step to the process to do first.
Step 1: Head to your PC and navigate to the official PS4 firmware page — There, you can download the latest PS4 firmware update so you can reinstall the data onto your PlayStation. You’ll also need an external hard drive with a USB connection or a USB flash drive to transfer the update to your PS4.
Step 2: Grab an external hard drive or USB flash drive with about 350 Mb of free space
Step 3: Create a new folder on your USB device and name it “PS4” — Inside that folder, create a folder and name it “UPDATE” in all caps. Save the firmware file into the “UPDATE” folder and you should be good to go.
Step 4: Boot up your PS4 in Safe Mode — Do it as described above by fully powering down your PS4 and then holding the power button until it beeps twice and boots to Safe Mode.
Step 5: Choose “7. Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software)” on your PS4 — Just follow the prompts. The console will wipe all data including system software, and then require you to plug in the USB device you saved the update to in order to reinstall the system software. When that’s done, your PS4 will be returned to factory settings.