Unfortunately, if you are reading this page, you probably have problems with your Playstation 4 system. As with any new hardware, there are always flaws that need to be addressed. Luckily, PS4 has a built-in Safe Mode that lets you try and fix your system.
The funny thing is that Sony has added Safe Mode to the PS4, but Microsoft doesn’t have a similar option for the Xbox, although everyone knows about Safe Mode from Windows. You can download Xbox One in low-res mode, but that’s about it. There is no specific diagnostic mode for troubleshooting problems.
Start your PS4 in Safe Mode
To boot your PS4 in Safe Mode, simply follow these steps:
1. Turn off your PS4 by pressing the power button on the front panel. It may take a few seconds before it shuts down completely.
2. Now press the power button again, but this time hold it down. The first time you press, you will hear one beep, and after about seven seconds you will hear a second beep. You can release the power button after you hear the second beep.
3. After booting, connect the DualShock controller to the system using the supplied USB cable and press the PS button. It won’t connect wirelessly, so you need to find this cable, which is hopefully still in the box.
At this point, the Safe Mode screen should appear if you did everything correctly and you should see the following options:
Let’s take a look at the different options to see what they do and what data on your system will be affected.
1. Restart your PS4. Just like restarting your computer, the PS4 will restart normally. Turning your PS4 off and back on is the same as restarting, so if that doesn’t work, let’s move on to the next step.
2. Change the resolution – this is useful if you have connected your PS4 to an older monitor that does not support high resolution, and as a result you see a blank or black screen. Selecting this option will restart the PS4 at 480p.
3. Update System Software – You can use this option to update the PS4 software via the Internet, USB or disk.
4. Restore Default Settings – This will reset your Playstation 4 to its factory default settings. According to Sony’s website, it looks like this option will not delete your user data, but will simply reset the settings to their defaults. This includes date and time, network settings, video / display settings, audio settings, video playback settings, etc. This will not downgrade the system firmware.
5. Restore Database – This will delete the current database, create a new database and scan all content on the system. If the database is corrupted this should fix the problem
6. Initialize PS4. These last two parameters will pretty much bring the PS4 back to its purest state. This option will remove everything except the system firmware. This means you can turn it back on and it will start up completely new.
7. Initialize PS4 (reinstall system software) – This option is the same as 6, but it also removes the system software. Basically, you start with a blank hard drive. This option is really used if you want to replace your PS4 hard drive with a faster or larger one. By default, this is a 500 GB, 7400 rpm drive. After you insert a new disc, you will use this option and download the system software to a USB stick from your computer. Plug it in and it will reinstall the system firmware.
Other issues with your PS4 may indicate problems with real hardware. For example, a flashing blue light and a flashing red light are experienced by many PS4 users. These two are also the main culprits for unexpectedly shutting down or shutting down the PS4.
Troubleshoot PS4 Blinking Blue Light
If your PS4 doesn’t turn on properly or shuts down randomly and doesn’t light up white but flashes blue, then you may have a hardware issue. Here are some things you can try:
1. Check the power adapter and power port on the back of the PS4. Make sure nothing is damaged or bent. You can even use a PS3 to PS4 power cord.
2. The second problem that can cause the blue light problem is that the hard drive bay is not properly connected or is loose. You must turn off the console, disconnect all cables, and then slide the hard drive cover in the direction of the arrow.
Apparently there is one screw that holds the whole thing in place, so if it’s loose the hard drive might not be properly connected. You can remove this screw, take out the hard drive and put it back in.
3. Finally, it could be an issue with the HDMI output port or a compatibility issue with your TV. Disconnect the HDMI cable and make sure the port on the PS4 is not damaged. Try a different HDMI cable if possible. You should also try connecting the system to another TV to see if this solves the problem.
Image source: playstation.com
PS4 red light flashing
If you see a flashing red light instead of the normal white light, it means the PS4 is overheating. The system is not getting enough airflow, or the current location is simply too hot. Try moving the system to a more open area if it gets inside something.
You can also try standing it upright rather than laying it flat. It looks like the Xbox One has fixed this notorious issue they had on the Xbox 360, but it’s not fixed on the PS4 yet.
PS4 software update problems
If you try to update your PS4 system software and something goes wrong, your only recourse is to erase everything and start from scratch. If you have installed an update but restart your PS4 and you are prompted to reinstall the same update as if it was not installed the first time, you will have to reinitialize your PS4.
You can do this by going into Safe Mode by selecting option 4, and then when the console restarts by selecting option 6. You will have to configure everything again.
PS4 audio problems
One of the more notable PS4 issues is related to audio output. PS4 can output audio in digital or optical format. By default, it automatically detects and optimizes audio based on connections. If you have an HDMI cable connected, audio will be transmitted over HDMI. Problems start to arise if you have a complex installation or system that does not support a particular type of sound.
The first problem is that you won’t have sound if you connect your PS4 to a device using HDMI that does not support HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). In fact, if it doesn’t support this, you won’t get audio or video, so try connecting to another device, or directly to your TV if you’re using a receiver.
Second, you may need to change your audio output settings. Go to Sound & Screen and then Sound Output Settings.
Here, make sure Headphone Out is not active and try changing the Primary Output Port from Digital Out (Optical) to HDMI. If you have an audio splitter and your center channel is not outputting sound, you should set the output to digital output (optical), uncheck DDS5.1, ACC and DTS5.1, and then check Linear PCM in Audio Format.
Now when you play a movie that supports DTS5.1 or DDS 5.1, it will only detect the Linear PCM stereo output. To fix this problem, you need to click Options while playing the disc, go to Settings and select Bitstream (Direct) under Audio Format.
Freeze the PS4 controller
If your PS4 console freezes up a lot, there are several things you can do. First, you should download all system software updates from the Playstation network as soon as possible.
If you experience a hang while trying to download the updates themselves, you should download them directly from the Sony website, copy to a USB stick, and install directly by connecting the USB stick to the console. It’s a bit of a tedious process, but hopefully when you run the latest system software you won’t have to do it manually again.
If you have any other PS4 issues, please leave a comment here and we’ll try to help. Enjoy!