Cannot Start The PS4 Loop | Troubleshooting Guide [2023]

When you update your PS4 or install a new hard drive replacement, your PS4 screen may display a message telling you that the PS4 cannot start and it will restart again and again in an infinite loop.

Depending on the reason for the “Cannot start the PS4” loop, the on-screen message may either ask you to connect the DualShock 4 controller to the system or tell you that the system storage is inaccessible.

This comprehensive troubleshooting guide for the year 2023 will address both issues and offers verified and working solutions to each.

Scenario #1: Cannot start the PS4 – Connect the Dualshock 4 …

In this scenario you’ll get the following screen message:

Cannot start the PS4.

Connect the Dualshock 4 using the USB cable, and then press the PS button.

When you press the PS button as prompted, you’ll enter the Safe Mode and get another screen message:

Connect a USB storage device that contains an updated file for reinstallation for version [..] or later.
You can download the update file for reinstallation from

What users reported on this error

Many users reported that they would still get the same message even after they followed the instructions and connected a USB storage device with the latest update.

They even reported that the system would fail to recognize the update file and said it was not found or they got a message saying: “This update file cannot be used“.

Other users reported that they had to initialize the PS4 and reinstall the PS4 system software from scratch and that would resolve the issue temporarily until it comes back after a week or so.

Main causes of this error message

This error usually takes place due to one of the following reasons:

  • Corrupted system software files which often happens when you were updating the system and the power was suddenly disconnected and the PS4 is turned off consequently during the update process. It can happen also if your internet connection is not stable or the update file you used was corrupted.
  • The internal system storage of PS4 is corrupted/failing and the system cannot read all files stored on it.

Suggested Solutions

So, here are a few suggested solutions based on real user experiences that help work around the “Cannot start the PS4 – Connect the Dualshock 4..” error message.

1. Rebuild the Database from Safe Mode

This is the easiest and fastest solution that worked for some users. All you have to do is enter the Safe Mode and select the rebuild database option. Here are the details:

  1. Turn off your PS4 by holding down the power button for 10 seconds until it shuts off. Wait at least 30 seconds before turning it on again.
  2. Now we need to turn on the PS4 and enter Safe Mode. To do that, press and hold down the power button of your PS4 until you hear the first beep. Keep holding down the button until you hear the second beep. Now release the button and your system will enter Safe Mode.
  3. Select option #5 to rebuild the PS4 database. The required time to accomplish the process varies depending on the size of your installed data.

2. Update the PS4 system software via Internet

Try to update the PS4 system software online not offline. Do the following:

  1. Press and hold down the power button until you hear the second beep which indicates that your PS4 system has entered Safe Mode.
  2. Choose option #3 that says Update System Software.
  3. Follow the instructions until the completion of the update process.
  4. Turn off the PS4 and wait 30 seconds then turn it on again.

3. Initialize the PS4 and reinstall the system software

We strongly recommend that you perform a full format on the PS4 internal hard drive (solution # 4) before carrying out this operation. But if, for any reason, you want to start with this process, just follow these instructions:

Note that this method will erase all your data and if the former method didn’t work for you, this method is imperative.

You’ll be lucky enough if you have a backup of your important data. If you have the PS Cloud Saves activated before this problem occurred, you don’t have to worry as you will be able to download your data later once the process is done.

  1. Enter into Safe Mode and pick option #7 (Initialize PS4 – Reinstall System Software).
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions until the process is completed.
  3. Turn off the PS4 completely and wait at least 30 seconds before turning it on.

Some users temporarily resolved this issue using this method, but after a few days, the same problem occurred again. That’s why we recommend first to full-format the PS4 internal HDD before going through this method.

4. Format The PS4 Internal HDD

The most common reason for the “Cannot start the PS4” error is a corrupted/defective hard drive. This happens usually if your PS4 fell down on the floor, underwent an abrupt power outage while the hard drive was intensively busy (i.e. while playing), or was struck by a power surge that harmed the internal HDD.

Whatever the case is if your hard drive is still operating there’s still hope to repair it. You will need to take it out and connect it to a PC and perform a full format on it. To learn more on this topic, please visit this page.

5. Upgrade The PS4 Internal HDD

If you haven’t yet upgraded the PS4 stock internal hard drive, probably it has degraded and begun to generate errors and performance issues.

Moreover, old hard drives require more power to operate, and if you have been using your PS4 for years now, the stock internal hard drive may not get enough power from the power supply to run properly.

It’s just like an old car that needs relatively more fuel to move compared to when it was new.

For that reason, we recommend that you upgrade your PS4 internal HDD to an SSD. An SSD uses considerably lower power than an HDD and lasts much longer with a low failure rate.

An SSD is the best option for your PS4 console when it ages. It will inject a new life into it and make it much faster than before. But if you plan to buy a PS5 after months from now, then we advise you to either try to fix your stock internal HDD or just buy a cheap PS4 HDD replacement until you get your PS5.

Scenario #2: Cannot start the PS4 – Cannot access system storage – (CE-34335-8)

In this scenario, users will get the following screen message:

Cannot start the PS4.
Cannot access system storage.
Press the power button for 1 second (until the system beeps) to turn off the PS4.

What users reported on this error

Users who encountered this issue reported that after they turn off their PS4 and turn it on again, nothing happens. The same error message will pop up and they are left with no option. They can’t even enter the Safe Mode and the PS4 is just stuck on this screen message.

Main causes of this error message

The PS4 system won’t be able to access system storage if either the PS4 internal storage is totally unfunctional or it was not properly seated inside the PS4.

If you have replaced your PS4 internal HDD with a new one, you may haven’t tightly attached the cables to the new hard drive.

Also, if your PS4 fell down, the connections might get loose, thus you’ll get an error message telling you that the system has failed to access system storage.

Eventually, if your hard drive undergoes any sort of failure or degradation, this error may occur as well.

Suggested Solutions

To fix PS4 error code (CE-34335-8) that says: “Cannot start the PS4 – Cannot access system storage” you only have two options:

  • Reseat/replace the internal storage of the PS4 and make sure the cables are well connected to the drive.
  • Use another internal storage device for PS4, and we strongly recommend getting an SSD instead of a classical HDD. You can pick a drive that suits your needs from this page.


When you get the “Cannot start the PS4” message, it’s often a hardware issue, especially the internal storage device. Just make sure your PS4 internal HDD is properly functional and doesn’t have any sort of damage/deficiency. Make sure also that it’s well seated inside the drive bay and the cables are well connected to it.

Cannot start the PS4 FAQ

What to do when your PS4 says Cannot start the PS4?

The very first thing you should do when you get the cannot start the PS4 is to try to enter the Safe Mode and rebuild the database. If it doesn't work for you, try the other methods in this guide.

Why Am I Getting The Cannot start the PS4 Message?

The reason for the Cannot start the PS4 varies depending on what the rest of the message says. If it asks you to connect the controller, then it's a data corruption. If it says cannot access system storage, the problem is with the hard drive that stopped working.

Do I need to change my PS4 HDD to fix the cannot start the PS4 error?

In most cases yes, you need to replace the PS4 internal hard drive but it's not always the case. In some cases you just need to rebuild the database or initialize the PS4.

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16 Responses

  1. Danial says:

    Turned on my PS4 tonight and all of a sudden a black screen pops up that says:

    “Cannot start the PS4.

    • PlayStation Expert says:

      If Safe Mode still won’t launch, try power cycling your console: Completely turn off the console by holding the power button. Wait for the power light to stop flashing, then remove the power cable and leave the console for 20 minutes. Reconnect and attempt to launch Safe Mode.

  2. Florian says:

    Hello! My PlayStation 4 Pro is having an issue! I was playing Warzone Caldera Clash when the textures slowed down, some houses couldn’t load, and all I could hear were gunfights. After the game ended, I became agitated and tried to restart my console and close the app, but it didn’t work. I then unplugged the cable and replugged it in before starting the PS4, however after 10 minutes the message “Cannot Start The PS4” appeared.

    • PlayStation Expert says:

      Try restarting your console if Safe Mode still won’t launch: By holding down the power button, you can turn the console off entirely. Remove the power cable and leave the console for 20 minutes after the power light stops flashing. Reconnect, then try to start Safe Mode.

  3. Smith says:

    I need help please PS4 problem cannot start. I’m so scared, that I’ll need a factory reset

    • PlayStation Expert says:

      Well, follow these simple steps: Ensure that your PS4 is totally off (I had to hold the power button for 10 seconds for it to turn off). Prior to taking any further action, wait another 30 seconds.

      You will hear a sound when you push and hold the power button. If you continue pressing, you will hear another sound. Turn the button off. You’ll see Safe Mode appear and have seven choices.

      Select rebuilding the database (option 5, I think). Allow it to finish; it should take around 10 minutes. I probably need a good defrag because I play a lot and constantly delete, install, and reinstall games, but this is the way to go! Good luck.

  4. Sodam says:

    Hi there,

    I have a problem with the “cannot start the PS4” error and I wish you can help me work around it.

    I quit the game I was playing, logged out of the current user, and then logged into the second user because I needed to switch users for whatever. Nothing loaded after I logged in. I decided to restart the PS4 as a result.

    The PS4 opens to the “checking system storage” page after being turned back on. Then, after loading, it uttered something like “can’t turn on the PS4. When I connected a DUALSHOCK 4 controller, the message “Insert a flash drive with the system update 7.51″ appeared.”

    According to what I’ve read online, this is a fairly typical issue, thus my PS4’s system must have been infected. Sadly, nothing on the internet is functional.

    I have access to safe mode. To restart the PS4, I just tried doing it in safe mode at first. That had no effect.

    I attempted to obtain the update file from the internet and reinstall it that way. The PS4 restarts after downloading the update file and displays the “installing system update” page. This installs, advances to the “installation complete” page, and then automatically restarts the PS4 as usual. Unfortunately, this new chapter returns me to paragraph 2. PS4 won’t start, check system storage, etc. This step has now been completed twice.

    I’ve attempted to reset the system preferences. When I do this, it claims there is a problem (error code SU-41337-8), and my only choices are to go back or turn off the PS4. This has worked for me both times that I’ve tried it.

    Additionally, I twice attempted to rebuild the database. If I attempt to rebuild the database, I get the following screen: “Creating a new database might take several hours. reconstruct the database?” At this point, pressing OK causes the PS4 to reset and returns me to paragraph 2, where I left off.

    I now only have two choices. reset or initialize the PS4 to factory settings. I want to know how much I’ll lose and whether I can stop it.

    I have an external storage drive, but I’m not sure what data is stored there versus on my hard drive.

    I also have a PS+ membership, so presumably, all of my game data gets saved to the cloud storage. However, I’m not sure if this happens automatically or if there’s a setting in my PS+ account that needs to be enabled. The other accounts on the PS4 also intrigue me. I have the sole account with a PS+ subscription; therefore, will data be preserved just in my account?

    Is there a way to back up the information on the hard drive in its current state? I am aware that I could have done so in the past, but that doesn’t really help me at this time.

    Is there anything I can do to make the first options better so I won’t have to initialize everything?

    Many thanks for reading this far; much more so if you respond.

    • PlayStation Expert says:

      Your hard drive may be failing and has to be replaced, according to the sound of things. The PS4 Flash Drive Update, a 2.5″ SATA Hard Drive (Laptop Hard Drive), and a Phillips head Screwdriver are required. As long as you correctly configure the Flash Drive Update File, buy a suitable Hard Drive, and have a Phillips Head Screwdriver on hand, it’s not too difficult.

      Otherwise, you can just buy a PS4 Hard Drive Upgrade Kit if you lack technical knowledge or are concerned about buying the wrong things. The PS4 Hard Drive Upgrade Kit comes with all the necessary tools and parts as well as detailed instructions and even free technical support in case you run into problems.

      Try this to see if it works: Hold down the power button on your PS4 for around 7 seconds, or until you hear a second beep. Put your PS4 in “Safe Mode” this week.

      If Option #5 (rebuild Database) doesn’t work after entering Safe Mode, try Option #6. (Initialize) Try Option #7 (Reinitialize) as a final resort; be aware that this will erase all data! Do a data backup first, if you can!

  5. Kareena says:

    Thank you my friend, it worked

  6. George L. says:

    When the PS4 says cannot start it’s inevitable to reinstall the system software. Most methods won’t work if they don’t promote reinstalling the system software.

    • PlayStation Expert says:

      Well, that’s the case mostly but not always. Your opinion is much appreciated though.

  7. Joel Carruthers says:

    I tried restarting or reinstalling my PS4 Pro, but it is stuck in Safe Mode and I don’t know what to do about it. Can you help me, please?

  8. Spirit mouse says:

    The first piece of advice should be to simply reset the system.

    • PS4 Storage says:

      Thanks. To any savvy this is an initiative step. But yes, you’re right, we must state it though when updating the article.

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