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How to factory reset a PS4 to fix issues or for resale

The PlayStation 4 is still a hugely popular console, though if you have one you might be wondering whether it's worth upgrading to the PS5. But if you do decide to go that route and you want to sell off your old PS4 - or if you're planning to use something else for gaming and you want to get ride of the PS4 for another reason - then we highly recommend that you make sure to perform a factory reset before doing so.

Doing a factory reset wipes your personal data so the device is ready for someone else to use, and it can also be useful for fixing problems with the PS4.

There are two methods for resetting your PS4:

  1. From the PlayStation 4 dashboard
  2. From the PS4's Safe Mode

We’ll be going over both ways in this article. Read on to find out how to factory reset your PlayStation 4 system. If you're looking for information on how to reset a newer system, check out our article on how to factory reset a PS5.




2 hours

What You Need

  • PlayStation 4

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How to factory reset your PS4

We'll go into detail about each step later in this section, but here's how to factory reset your PS4 via your console's dashboard:

  1. Go to settings and select Account Management
  2. Select Deactivate and select Yes on the following screen
  3. Sign back into your account and head back to the settings
  4. From the Settings menu. Click on Initialization.
  5. Select Initialize PS4. The full reset may take a couple hours or more.

A factory reset is usually done as a last resort to ensure the functionality of the system. Before factory resetting, it’s important to remember to back up all save data you may have before initiating the process. Factory resetting the PlayStation will erase all of your data from your system, and not backing up your save data will result in you having to start your games from scratch.

Things to consider backing up include images, saves, and videos, which can either be uploaded 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, which gives you 100GB of storage space. However, you can also use a flash drive to copy saves if you aren’t a PS Plus member.

Before we begin, you should know that a factory reset of your PS4 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.

Below are step-by-step instructions to complete a factory reset on your PS4, whether you’re rocking an original model, a Slim, or a Pro.

Step 1: Start in the settings menu and find the option for 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.

The PS4's settings menu.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: 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.

A screen that allows PS4 owners to set a primary console.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Sign back into your account and head back to the settings for the final steps.

Step 4: Scroll all the way to the bottom from within the Settings menu. Click on Initialization and you’ll be presented with a few more options. For the purposes of this guide, you only need to worry about the bottom two options -- we’ll be skipping Clear Learning Dictionary. Below that, you’ll see Restore Default Settings, which will clear your saved settings data and return the PS4 to its factory settings, but it won’t wipe your hard drive.

The other option, Initialize PS4, 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 it was in when it came out of the box.

how to wipe your ps4 before trading it in initialize
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 5: The Full 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.

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: There are three different approaches to resetting your PS4 available in the Safe Mode menu. As 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.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: If you’re not having software problems, pick Initialize PS4. This will restore your hard drive and software settings to the factory default but it will 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.

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How to reinstall system software on PS4

Reinstalling system software is a harder reset than a full initialization and will completely erase all software off the console. You will need to have another device handy to reinstall system software after this reset. 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 in the process to do first.

Step 1: On your PC, search for the latest system software from the PlayStation website (version Version 10.01) and download it to your computer. To transfer the update to your PS4, you’ll use a flash drive or an external hard drive that can connect via a USB port. Grab an external hard drive or USB flash drive with about 1.1GB of free space.

Step 2: 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. Put the firmware file into that “UPDATE” folder so you’ll be able to access it quickly during the transfer. Make sure the file is named “PS4UPDATE.PUP” when you save it.

Step 3: Boot up your PS4 in Safe Mode. Follow the instructions above to power down your PS4. Hold the power button down until you hear two beeps, which will allow it to boot in Safe Mode.

Step 4: Choose Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software) on your PS4. From there, follow all the prompts from your PS4. As you go through, the console will wipe everything, including system software. The next prompts will guide you through plugging in the USB with the update saved and reinstalling the system software. After installing the updated files, your PS4 will be reset to factory settings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does factory reset of my PS4 delete everything?

When you factory reset your PS4 via the initialization menu, all of your settings and information is permanently deleted. There's no way to bring it back, so make sure you don't need any of this data before you go about factory resetting your PS4.

How do I wipe my PS4 as a new owner?

If you've just picked up a PS4 second hand and want to wipe it as the new owner, you should perform a factory reset of your console. You can do this by accessing the Settings menu on the PS4 dashboard, going to Account Management, selecting Deactivate, and then pressing Initialize PS4. The factory reset process for a PS4 can take a couple hours or more.

How do I wipe and restore my PS4?

To wipe and restore your PS4, take the following steps:

  1. Go to settings and select Account Management
  2. Select Deactivate and select Yes on the following screen
  3. Sign back into your account and head back to the settings
  4. From the Settings menu. Click on Initialization.
  5. Select Initialize PS4. The full reset may take a couple hours or more.

Is initializing the PS4 the same as performing a factory reset?

Yes, these two refer to the same thing - wiping all the data from your PS4 and returning it to the settings it had once it left the factory.

However, there is another option you may be getting mixed up with, called Restore Default Settings, sometimes also called Restore Factory Settings. This is a quick refresh mode which will not delete all your data, but will revert only your settings back to the PS4's original state. That means this option isn't good if you're planning to sell your PS4, as you'll want to remove your personal data and games before handing it to someone else. But it can be useful to try to quickly fix a problem without going through the hassle of performing a full factory reset.

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Phil Hornshaw
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Phil Hornshaw is an author, freelance writer and journalist living in Los Angeles. He is the co-author of The Space Hero's…
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