Replacing the PlayStation 4 Hard Drive

The PS4 comes with a 500GB hard drive. On paper that sounds quite generous but with individual games often taking up 10% or more of this a time, it doesn’t take the avid gamer long to fill this.

Ideally, the best time to replace the drive is before you start using it (i.e. when you first buy the PS4) as all games have to be downloaded and/or re-installed. But that’s the only hard bit of the whole process – Sony have made the procedure very, very simple.

Which Drive Type?

The PS4 was designed to work with a mechanical drive – indeed, it specifically stores files at particular positions on the drive to take advantage of the different speeds at different points of the platter. None-the-less, SSDs will work and will give you the biggest speed advantage. Of course, they’re expensive.

This leaves us with two options – a hybrid drive (a mechanical drive with a small SSD attached – the latter is used automatically for caching regularly used files) or a bigger mechanical drive. A hybrid drive will be the quickest. Any drive has to be a 2.5″ model with a height of 9.5mm.

At the time of writing the largest capacity hybrid drive that meets the specifications is 1TB. However, if you opt for a standard mechanical drive then 2TB is available to you. If you could cope with the smaller size then this will give you the speed advantage. Personally, I’m going with the 2TB drive as I don’t wish to re-install all my games again!

As to whether there’s an advantage in buying a SATA 3 drive, the PS4 only supports SATA 2 so, no.

Which Drive?

If you’re after a hybrid drive then you currently have 2 options. Both have a 1TB mechanical drive with an 8GB SSD, a 5400 rpm spin speed and a seek time of 12ms.

The Toshiba PX3005E-1HJ0 has a 32MB cache, a 0.2 – 2 W power consumption and generates 24 dB of noise. User reviews are excellent but I can’t find any benchmarks.

The Seagate ST1000LM014 has a 64MB cache, a 0.9 – 2.7 W power consumption and generates 27 dB of noise. User reviews and excellent tbut benchmarks show the drive to actually be quite slow.

Both drives cost around £68.

Now, if you’re after a 2TB purely mechanical drive then the Samsung Spinpoint M9T is the one to go for. Costing about £85 it has all the specifications of the above hybrid drives but without the SSD component. It has a 32MB cache, power consumption of 0.7 – 2.3 W and generates 27 dB of noise. User reviews are excellent, as are benchmarks.

But, here’s a little trick. The Seagate STBX2000401 Expansion is a 2TB external hard drive that can be bought for £68. Crack open the case (carefully) and you’ll find it contains the aforementioned Samsung M9T drive. Not only do you get the drive for £17 less but you can then put your old PS4 drive into this case and you have a free 500GB external drive.

Is it any quicker? I benchmarked both the M9T and the stock drive that comes with the PS4. The M9T offers a 13% increase in sequential read speed and 22% in writing. Large random file reading is about the same but writing large files gets a 38% speed increase. Small random file reading is actually 6% slower but writing is 27% quicker.

Overall, reading is 3% quicker on average and writing is 29% quicker. So, yes, better – not tremendously so but quicker none-the-less.

See my review of the Seagate Expansion drive and follow my instructions on how to take the M9T drive out of it.

Preparation

Before you do anything there are 3 things you need…

  1. A Philips screwdriver
  2. A new hard drive (see above)
  3. An external USB drive

The external USB drive should be formatted as FAT32 (how do I do this?). I’ve found that the PS4 will also recognise exFAT (I use that format when saving videos, etc) but have not tested it in Safe Mode – probably best to stick to FAT32.

Getting the System Software

Once the drive is replaced your PS4 will need the system software before it can do anything else.

  • Plug the external USB drive that you have into a computer and create a folder named “PS4”. Inside that folder, create another folder named “UPDATE”.
  • Download the file from this page, where you see the image ps_btn_dwnld_en, and place it in the UPDATE folder.
  • Ensure the file is named PS4UPDATE.PUP.

I would recommend that you do this in Windows – I did this on a Mac and the PS4 failed to find the file. I set it up again in Windows and it worked. This may have something to do with the file name formatting.

Backing Up

Sadly, the PS4 doesn’t allow you to back up your game installations, only your game saves. If you’re a PSN subscriber (who isn’t?) then this should be automatically backed up to the cloud. Personally, I always believe in absolutely making sure, so I’d also recommend a physical backup as well.

  • Connect a USB storage device to your PS4. It should be formatted as FAT32 or exFAT.
  • Select [Settings] > [Application Saved Data Management] > [Saved Data in System Storage] > [Copy to USB Storage Device].
  • Select a title.
  • Press X to select the saved data you want to copy, and then select [Copy].

Replace the Hard Drive

This is the bit that Sony have made really easy.

  • Ensure the PS4 is switched off (i.e. not in standby – ensure the light on top is not on at all).
  • Unplug the power cable from the back (in fact, it’s probably worth unplugging everything, just to be extra safe).
  • Slide the cover in the direction of the arrow (see image to the right) to remove it. The panel slides to the left (looking at the PS4 from the front) of the LED strip, so don’t try and force that.
    PS4 top panel
  • Remove the screw that holds the drive in place (1) – this is larger than the others and has the 4 PlayStation symbols around it. Pull the drive toward the front of the system to remove it (2).
    PS4 drive screw

You’ve now removed the old drive, which is held in a special caddy.

  • Remove the 4 screws that hold the drive in the caddy (don’t remove the rubber grommets, though, which are on the caddy)
    PS4 caddy screws
  • Take the old hard drive out of the caddy and put the new one in place

To put the new drive in place we simply reverse the above…

  • Put the 4 screws back into the caddy
  • Slide the caddy back into the PS4 and replace the screw that holds it into place
  • Slide the top cover back

Re-install the System Software

  • Ensure all the cables (inc. power) are plugged back in.
  • Plug into your PS4 the USB storage device that the update file is saved on.
  • Touch the power button until you hear a second beep (this takes about 7 seconds).
  • The PS4 system will starts in safe mode.
  • Select [Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software)].
  • Assuming the update file is found it will re-install this.
  • Once complete, you will be met with the PS4 set-up screen, where you will need to set everything back up from scratch (settings, sign into PSN, etc).

Restoring Game Save Data

If you stored this on a USB device then…

  • Connect a USB storage device to the system.
  • Select [Settings] > [Application Saved Data Management] > [Saved Data on USB Storage Device] > [Copy to System Storage].
  • Select a title.
  • Press X to select the saved data you want to copy, and then select [Copy].

If you have this stored online then…

  • Select [Settings] > [Application Saved Data Management] > [Saved Data in Online Storage] > [Download to System Storage].
  • Select a title.
  • Press X to select the saved data you want to copy, and then select [Copy].

Re-Installing Your Games

The easiest way to do this now is to use the Library – all your games and applications will be listed here and you simply need to select one at a time to start the download process. If you had additional maps, DLCs, etc then these will be listed too and you’ll be given the option to download them all, rather than one at a time.

Update files aren’t initiated here, however, and some will only download once you start the game – indeed, some games don’t fully install until you start them (GTA, BF4, for example), so ensure that you start each.

If the game is on a physical disc then you will need to insert this to install the game. Any extras can still be downloaded, but I’d recommend doing this AFTER the game has been installed from disc.

Darkstorm40
About Darkstorm40

Relatively recent convert to Battlefield but now hooked. Not the best aim or sharpest reflexes but good team player.

Hates people complaining unnecessarily and believes you should always offer solutions – yes, I’m looking at all the Battlefield 4 haters.

General IT bod during the day and all-round geek at all other times.

Owner of bfmedic.com.

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