If you have problems with the PS4, such as slow performance, “data corrupted” errors, or problems downloading or updating games, your console’s database could be the problem. Fortunately, rebuilding the PS4 database will fix most of these problems.
What does “Rebuild the PS4 Database” mean?
When your Sony PlayStation 4 downloads data, be it a new game or an update to an existing title, the console must examine the downloaded data to find what it needs. A few major updates and game downloads can slow down the console as it has to sift through a large amount of data. However, much of this data is not relevant to the current operation.
Rebuilding your PS4 database tells the system where the relevant downloaded data resides on the drive. Once this process is complete, it is easier for your console to find the data it needs for a particular game or service. This can lead to faster boot times and a more responsive console.
This is not the same as defragmenting a hard drive. That process would take much longer. Defragmentation moves the data while rebuilding the database only affects the database. After the database is rebuilt, the console notes where the relevant information is on the drive and then updates its location within the database.
Sony advises that rebuilding your database may take time, or even a few hours, depending on the amount of new data that needs to be examined. In our experience, the process takes a few minutes, tops, on a 1TB PS4 Pro. It’s also worth noting that major PS4 updates also require a database rebuild. It also happens whenever you turn on your console after not turning it off properly.
Occasionally, the process of rebuilding your database may result in the removal of games or other applications if the console believes that they have been corrupted. This shouldn’t affect your saved data, but remember that you can always back up to the cloud with PlayStation Plus or a USB device locally.
When should you rebuild your database?
Rebuilding your PS4 database is a safe process, and you can do it as often as you like. It is a relatively low-risk operation that does not necessarily affect the data on your disk. You can rebuild the database to resolve existing problems, but doing so will also help prevent future console slowdowns.
However, there are some occasions when you may want to force a database rebuild to resolve issues with your PS4.
If your console takes longer than usual to boot or resume from a suspended state, or if you notice a slowdown while using the PS4 menus, a rebuild could help speed things up. This usually happens after significant game updates have been downloaded, so you may want to rebuild the database next time Modern Warfare drops a 100GB patch.
Database issues can also negatively affect game performance. If you notice drops in frame rate and stuttering, especially in areas where you’ve never seen them before, a database rebuild may be a good idea.
Here to help! Did you try to rebuild the database in safe mode? Steps here:
If that doesn’t work, try option # 6. Initialize PS4. Find the steps to back up your data here.
Persistent “data corrupted” errors can also be fixed with a database rebuild. They usually appear when trying to download a game from your Library. Restarting the download usually works quickly before you see the error message again. We have noticed that the problem disappears completely after a quick rebuild of the database.
Some have also noted that rebuilding their PS4 database solved an issue where the console constantly failed to read optical media, and downloadable content (DLC) was missing.
If you frequently install new games and applications, you will benefit from regular database rebuilds than someone who plays the same games and rarely installs anything.
Are there drawbacks?
There are not many downsides to rebuilding the database. Some things may be missing if the data is corrupted, but this is rare. Yours most recently played games list will be removed, so you’ll have to browse your Library to find things instead of scrolling a few tiles to the right.
A rebuild will also remove all notifications from your system. However, it can be nice to wipe the whiteboard because unless you delete them manually, it seems like the console is holding on to them forever.
Lastly, if you have an extensive collection of games and use an external drive, you could be waiting a while for the process to complete. However, we haven’t noticed significant wait times on a standard PS4 with expanded storage or a fully charged PS4 Pro.
How to rebuild your database in safe mode
You will need to start your PS4 console in safe mode to rebuild its database. To do this, wake your console from sleep mode as you usually would. Next, press and hold the PS button on your controller and then select Power> Turn off PS4.
- Connect your controller to the PS4 with a USB cable with the console entirely off. This is necessary because Bluetooth will not work in safe mode. Now, press and hold the power button on the front of the console until you hear two beeps to start it securely.
- After the second beep, release the button and wait for the “Safe Mode” menu to appear. When you do, select “5. Rebuild the database. “Accept the warning that the process may take a few hours, and then select” OK “to begin the rebuild.
- Your console will reboot and display the PlayStation logo for a while. Then you should see a progress bar showing that the database is rebuilding. When the process is complete, your console will reboot.
What else does a safe mode do?
There are other troubleshooting options in the “Safe Mode” menu. The first is the “Reboot System,” which exits Safe Mode and restarts the PS4 usually.
Below is an option to change the screen resolution to 480p. This is useful if your console is connected to a display that does not support the existing resolution, and you need to reverse the settings.
The next option is “Update System Software,” which checks for the latest version and then attempts to update if you have trouble updating your system software when the system boots usually, you can try this option.
The “Restore Default Settings” option reverts all system settings to their factory default values. This will not affect your games or save data. However, it will change your power saving preferences and DNS servers to their defaults.
Finally, there are the options “Initialize PS4” and “Initialize PS4 (reinstall system software)“. These will factory reset your console to like-new condition. The second option also reinstalls the current version of Sony’s operating system. Both will delete all your saved games, media, and files.
You should only use these final options if you have severe problems with your PS4 (and have tried everything else) or if you are selling or giving away your console. These options will delete all of your personal information.
Will next-gen consoles require similar maintenance?
Sony and Microsoft are preparing to launch their next-generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles in late 2020. The most significant differences will be faster solid-state drives (SSDs) and wide-bandwidth data channels.
These new features will allow consoles to access data faster than ever. This also means that a database rebuild procedure on a PS5 should take less time, thanks to the improved performance of an SSD.
If you want to speed up your PS4, you can add an SSD. However, don’t expect the same next-gen performance that we’ll likely see on the PS5.