I own a PS4 Pro with a 1TB default Toshiba HDD, and at first I didn’t mind the loading times since most of the games I played were well optimized, especially when the devs implement some cool loading tricks like they did for God of War. But, your PS4 will start playing with your nerves once you get to games like GTA V, Skyrim, Witcher or even Crash Team Racing, where loading times can go up to 3 minutes. So, I decided to grab an SSD on the last black Friday deals haul and upgrade my console, which lead to this tutorial.
Table of Contents
Before you upgrade your PS4 Storage
- Upgrading your PS4 to the best SSD makes sense if loading times are bothering you. Your console will boot up faster, the OS will be snappier and the games will load quicker.
- Upgrade your PS4 to a HDD only if storage is bothering you. If you’re fine with the loading speed, upgrading your PS4/pro to a 4TB Hard Drive Disk comes in cheap, and your console will support it in full.
- The Original PS4 has a slower SATA II Storage Interface that has a maximum bandwidth of 300 MB/s, meaning that you’ll not see any benefit from installing SSD’s that are faster than that.
- The PS4 Pro has a faster SATA III Storage Interface that supports drives up to 600 MB/s, anything above that will not be beneficial at all.
- Don’t expect speed consistency in all games. Some games like GTA 5, The Witcher 3 and Skyrim will improve in loading times up to 40%, while others like Crash Team Racing or Mortal Kombat 11 will not benefit from an SSD at all.
- Don’t overspend if you don’t need it. With around 100 USD you can already get decent SSD and HDD drives out there, spending 700 USD on a 8TB SSD just doesn’t make sense.
- There are no 7200 RPM internal HDD options available. All Internal HDD’s are spinning at 5300 RPM, regardless of the manufacturer.
- SSHD’s are not a smart investment. The price and speed difference is to small to spend your time on them, if you want speed, just add 15 USD more and get an SSD.
Best External SSD for the PS4
The winner of the best external SSD for PS4 is definitely the Samsung T5 Portable SSD. Here in our office we have several of them and are using it on our PC’s, Mac’s and even cameras. The storage options go up to 2TB while the read and write speed are around 500 MB/s. Same as the PS4, the Samsung T5 supports the USB 3.1. standard, which makes it quit easy to recommend as the best external SSD for the PS4.
The 1TB version is currently priced at $130, while the 2TB one can be found for around $200. You can check the updated prices over at Amazon
There are, of course, faster options like the Samsung T7, but that’s already an overkill for PS4 usage and we wouldn’t recommend it.
Best Internal SSD for the PS4/Pro:
It’s no surprise that Samsung again takes the spot here, their Samsung SSD 860 EVO is one of the best internal SSD for PS4 out there. The 1TB version is priced fairly at around $100, while the only reason why in this test we went with the 2TB option is because we’re sharing our PS4 with other colleagues for testing purposes, so we’re covering three accounts, each of us having our own games to test.
The drive comes with sequential read and write performance levels of up to 550MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively, meaning that it can use the PS4 Pro’s SATA III interface to it’s fullest. On top of that, there’s a 5 year warranty.
So, it doesn’t matter if you’re installing the SSD on your original PS4, PS4 Lite or PS4, the 860 EVO is worth the money and remains the best SSD for PS4 users, as well as the best SSD for PS4 Pro ones.
Best External Hard Drive for the PS4
If you’re not a speed junky and just want a massive HDD to store your whole game library on it, then a HDD is your best choice. When it comes to the best external hard drive for PS4 users, we tend to recommend the WD 4TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive the most. The storage is massive, speeds are decent, noise is kept at minimum and the warranty is good as well.
Although it can’t compete with SSD’s, the WD 4TB offers almost double the storage for the same price of around 100 USD, acting as the best PS4 external hard drive for those of you who like to have their game library installed and just one click away.
You can buy it over at Amazon for around 100 USD.
Best Internal Hard Drive for the PS4/Pro:
If you’re looking for speed, you will be disappointed, because even the best internal hard drive for PS4 can’t compete with external HDD’s and internal SSD’s like the 860 EVO which we mentioned above. The reason behind it is that most 2.5 HDD are capped at a 5400 RPM speed, which means that even if you would pick the best HDD for PS4, the speed would still be limited to 5400 RPM. The only way you can go up is by either picking an External HDD with a speed of 7200 RPM or just go with an SSD in the first place.
If you’re looking for 4TB storage, and are generally happy with the loading times of your games, then your best bet would be the Seagate Barracuda ST4000LM024 4 TB 2.5″. With this Internal Hard Drive for PS4 you can bump up your console to 4TB for around $150, which is definitely worth it if you want to keep all your games on the drive itself.
What gear do you need to do a PS4 SSD or HDD Storage Upgrade?
- An External Storage Device Formatted to FAT32 with 4 GB of storage. Like a USB or an external HDD/SSD with enough storage for your save game files, as well as the 1 GB System Update that you will need. I would recommend a device that has USB 3.1. standard for a faster transfer, both the PS4, PS4 Lite and PS4 Pro have USB 3.1., so why not use it. I personally had close to 2GB of save files and a Samsung T5 lying around, so I just took that.
- A MicroUSB Cable to connect your joypad in Safe Mod. For those of you who only have a charging station – you will not be able to connect your joypad via Bluetooth in Safe Mod, be prepared for bringing out the good ol’ micro USB Cable.
- The 1GB heavy PS4 OS Installation file titled “PS4UPDATE.PUP”. Once you download it, don’t rename it or do anything to the file, keep it as it is. You can download it from PlayStation under this link.
- A Philips #0 Screwdriver to unscrew the bay and the old disk. I personally own the iFixit Kit and I can definitely recommend it to anyone. It’s currently down to $21 over at Amazon.
- High Speed LAN Internet is recommended. Unfortunately, you can’t backup the installed games, just the save files from them. I had close to 800 GB of games on my old drive, so re-downloading them for the PS4 storage upgrade was definitely a pain with my slowish wireless connection.
Backup your PS4 Save Files and Trophies before you start
- Sync your trophies. To do that, Press the OPTIONS button while viewing your Trophies, and then select [Sync with PlayStation Network]
- Sync your Save Files. If you have PlayStation Plus, all your save files will be in the cloud, just make sure that they are synced with your latest progress. Go to Settings > Saved Data and Game/App Settings, then first select Saved Data (PS4) after which select Auto-Upload
- Backup your Save Files to a USB stick. Shit can happen, we all know that, so it’s better to have your save files on your disk as well. To do that, go to Settings > Saved Data and Game/App Settings, then first select Saved Data (PS4), after which pick Copy to USB Storage Device. It’s important that your stick is formatted as FAT32, as already explained above.
Prepare the USB stick or external Drive
Format the USB stick or drive to FAT32. Your PlayStation doesn’t know how to read any other file type, so be sure to format it to FAT32. If you don’t know how to do it, consult our guide here: How to format your disk to FAT32.
Prepare the files and folders on the USB Stick or Drive. There should be one folder on your stick or drive named “PS4”. Within that folder you need two sub-folders.
- YOURDRIVENAME:\PS4\SAVEDATA\ holds your save files that you generated when you backed them up.
- YOURDRIVENAME:\PS4\UPDATE\ that holds the PS4UPDATE.PUP file that you downloaded from PlayStation directly (link for those who missed it above)
You will get the error “Cannot Find the Update File (SU-41350-3)” if the the drive is not formatted to FAT32 and doesn’t contain the above mentioned folders and files.
Take the best SSD or HDD for the PS4 and start
On the back of the PS4, remove the cap that protects the disk. On the PS4 Pro you can do it with your fingers, in case you’re using a screwdriver to remove the cap, be gentle to not damage anything.
Continue with the main screw that needs to be unscrewed. Once that is done, you can pull the drive bay out.
Unscrew the four screws that are holding the old HDD in place, don’t lose the screws.
Place your disk in to the drive bay. If you’re doing a PS4 HDD upgrade, you will not see the difference in size and can continue placing the new HDD the same way the old one was. If you’re doing a PS4 SSD upgrade, then you will see that the drive is smaller than the HDD, to get the screw holes aligned, you will need to push the small metal plates on the tray to lift the SSD and align the holes for the screws to fit in.
Gently push the drive back in and make sure to “click it in” properly. Place the cap back where it was and let’s continue to the next step.
How to reinstall the PS4 Operating System
First step: Turn off your PS4 console. No lights should be on and the console should be turned off, not in rest mode, but completely turned off.
Second step: Plug in the USB Stick or Hard Drive with the installation file in to your PS4. You can do that either in the front or in the back, all the ports are the same so it doesn’t matter. Remember though, the file needs to be placed under \PS4\UPDATE\PS4UPDATE.PUP
Third Step: Connect your joypad via the USB cable, Bluetooth will not work at this point.
Fourth Step: Hold the power ON button for 7 to 10 seconds until you hear the second beep, then let go. Safe Mode is now on!
Fifth Step: Follow the instructions on screen and install the new OS. This can take anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the speed of the stick or drive you’re using (hence the reason why I’m using my Samsung T5).
And that’s it, you have yourself a fresh new PS4 OS installed. Now on to the backup.
How to restore PS4 Save Game Files and Trophies after a storage upgrade?
First, sign in to the PlayStation Network with your old login. Obviously you want to use the same account you had on the old HDD, that will restore all your Trophies.
Second, restore your save game files. If you’re on PlayStation Plus, all your save games are in the cloud and they will sync once you log in. If you’re not on PlayStation Plus, you need to pull the backup from the USB stick/Disk you used to create it a few steps before.
To manually restore your PS4 save game files from USB or a Drive go to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data on USB Storage Device > Select the source > Download to System Storage. That’s it, enjoy your fresh PS4!