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 or you’re having trouble beta testing the latest Playstation software update, you’ll want to know how to return your PlayStation 4 to pristine condition. To do that, you need to factory reset your PS4, a process that reverts it back to its original, out-of-the-box state.
How to factory reset your PS4
Before we begin, you should know that a factory reset completely wipes the console’s hard drive and can even remove its system software. It’s a last resort when a software glitch stops your PlayStation 4 dead in its tracks, particularly when booting up or when you want to make sure the console no longer has your data on it.
You should back up any data you want to keep, such as images and video, to an external device or to the cloud. In order to back up data using the cloud, you’ll have to have a PlayStation Plus account.
There are two ways to reset your PS4 — From the console’s dashboard or in Safe Mode if the console is having boot-up issues. We’ll be going over both ways, the first being through your PlayStation 4 dashboard.
1. Sign in to your PS4 and head to the settings menu
Start in the settings menu and find the option for “PlayStation Network/Account Management.” 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 yours. Miss this step, and you’ll encounter a host of other problems when you sign on to your new console and try to play your games.
2. Deactivate your PlayStation
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. Select “Deactivate” and select “Yes” on the following screen.
3. Sign back in with your user account
This is different from your PS4 account. Once signed in, head to the settings menu again.
4. Find the ‘Initialization’ option in settings
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.
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.
Perform 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.
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.
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.
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,”.
This 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.
4. If you’re not having software problems, pick ‘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.
How to reinstall system software on PS4
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 “Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software),” but there’s another step to the process to do first.
1. Download the official PS4 firmware
Head to your PC and download the latest system software from the PlayStation website. You’ll also need an external hard drive with a USB connection or a USB flash drive to transfer the update to your PS4. Grab an external hard drive or USB flash drive with about 1.1GB Mb of free space.
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. Make sure the file is named “PS4UPDATE.PUP” when you save it.
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.
5. Choose ‘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.