Rebuilding PS4 Database – How and Why to Do It
A lagging console is the bane of every gamer, especially when you’re in the middle of a multiplayer game. Or, sometimes, it takes ages to load up. It might even be having issues with downloading add-on content or reading game disks. All these are problems usually associated with a fragmented drive, and you can easily fix it by rebuilding the PS4 database.
The Sony Playstation 4 uses a 500GB 5400 RPM SATA II hard drive, with the PS4 Pro having the 1TB variation. As opposed to NAND Flash memory (SSDs), HDDs need to have the data stored in them ‘re-arranged’ for quicker access.
What Is Rebuilding PS4 Database?
If you’re familiar with the Disk Defragmentation tool in Windows, then it suffices to say that rebuilding the PS4 database is just the same as defragmenting the computer hard drive.
If you’re not aware of defragmentation, you should first familiarize yourself with the way hard drives work. HDDs were invented by IBM in 1956 and still work on the same tried-and-tested principle.
A hard drive consists of one or more magnetic platters arranged one above another. Each platter has a series of concentric tracks from the center going outwards, and each track is further subdivided into sectors. You can think of sectors as slices of a pie.
Files and other information are stored in different sectors on the drive. On an HDD with a lot of files, you might have information from various programs scattered all over and mixed up quite randomly.
When you go rebuild the PS4 database, you’re just doing the same exactly as a Windows OS user does when defragmenting the hard drive. It is the process of rewriting on the hard disk in such a manner that all related files are written on contiguous sectors so that the read/write arm of the drive does not spend too much time looking for them.
Why Do You Need to Rebuild the PS4 Database?
When you first get a PS4, or you’ve recently upgraded the PS4 internal hard drive, it doesn’t matter where program files are located. However, as the PS4 hard drive fills up, files are scattered randomly on different sectors over the drive. This especially happens after many series of write/delete operations.
It takes time for the PS4 hard drive arm to move over different tracks, sectors and entire platters looking for different files. Typically, the PS4 hard drive has an access time of 10 milliseconds and a read speed of 50-100 MB/s. On a fragmented drive, however, these stats will be noticeably higher.
When to Rebuild PS4 Database
You should rebuild your database if:
- Experiencing slow load times and menu navigation.
- The PS4 has problems reading game disks. Sometimes, it can start fine and crash out of nowhere, so you should also consider how consistent your PS4 has been.
- You’ve been noticing frame-rate drops and stuttering, especially during cut-scenes and other graphically intensive moments.
- Having troubles downloading and installing add-on content. That is especially if you still have free memory and can’t seem to find install anything.
- In extreme cases, corrupted files and random crashing.
These are the most common problems associated with having a fragmented drive. They come about when the read/write head has troubles finding specific files. It can also happen when it takes too long to do so. This, in turn, affects the performance of the CPU, RAM, GPU, and the console as a whole.
How To Rebuild the PS4 Database?
It is very easy to rebuild your PS4 database, despite how complex it may sound. Here is how to do it.
- Power down your console. Make sure it is off and not in rest mode.
- Connect the default DualShock controller using its default USB or another similar data transfer cable. A Bluetooth pairing won’t work for this: You need the cable connection.
- Boot up your PS4 into safe mode. You can do this by holding down the power button on the console or the X button on the controller for about 7 seconds, or until you hear two distinct beeps. Safe mode is a ‘developer’ menu that can be used to troubleshoot, update or otherwise maintain your console.
- Choose the Rebuild Database option. Safe mode has a host of options to choose from. Make sure you choose the right option because the rest have other important roles. These include:
- Change resolution: This option changes the default resolution at the next bootup to 480p.
- Update System Software: It allows you to update the console via the Internet, a USB drive, or a game disk.
- Restore Default Settings: Just as it suggests, it helps restore the console to default or factory settings without losing any of your data.
- Rebuild Database: This option scans the existing database and then creates a new one, properly indexed to optimize read/write operations.
- Initialize PS4: This option erases all user settings and data. It restores the console to its ‘new’ state.
- Initialize PS4 (Reinstall System Software): Wipes everything in the hard drive, including the system software. You will then have to manually download and install it. Make sure not to select this option in this case, because you will lose everything.
The screen goes black when the rebuilding is underway. Make sure not to interrupt the process. Don’t turn off the mains socket either until it the process ends.
Benefits of Rebuilding Your PS4 Database
There are several benefits of rebuilding the PS4 database, all relate to performance. These benefits are:
- Frees up valuable space on your drive. In a fragmented drive, free memory space may to scattered to be useful to you. After rebuilding, this free space becomes usable.
- Helps fix issues to do with disk speed. This includes low frame rates, stuttering and even crashing. Because the drive is now able to access files much more quickly, it vastly improves the performance of the CPU, graphics card and RAM.
- Solves issues to do with downloading and installation of add-on gaming material.
- The console performs must faster. After a successful rebuilding, your console runs like new, assuming no other issues.
While rebuilding your PS4 database is a pretty straightforward operation, there are many questions that users have been asking about the process.
How Long Does It Take to Rebuild PS4 Database?
The process of scanning the entire hard disk and rewriting it takes time, given that a typical hard drive has billions of memory segments. Usually, it takes about 3 hours for a standard rebuilding to occur, but this time varies significantly.
The time it takes to complete a rebuild depends on the size of your hard drive and the amount of space that is already full. Some consoles are known to take upwards of 20 hours to finish. It is recommended to do it just before going to bed, or before you go out for a trip.
PS4 Rebuild Database Error
Some hard drives fail to rebuild altogether and bring an error such as code “CE-33179-3“. Others will simply say that they cannot rebuild the database. These errors point to an issue with the hard disk. It could be corrupted for any number of reasons, especially due to modifications done over time.
If you’re encountering such an error, first back up your data (much better if you do it over cloud storage). Then, perform a Safe Mode 6 (Initialize PS4) or a 7 (Initialize and manually reinstall system software.)
PS4 Rebuild Database Black Screen
It is normal for the screen to go black during rebuilding until it is over. It can also show the time remaining or time elapsed, all of which are fine.
PS4 Rebuild Database External Hard Drive
If you’re wondering if the database rebuilding also affects an external hard drive connected to it, the answer is no. It only rebuilds the database on the internal drive, but you can defragment an external HDD using a PC.
PS4 Rebuild Database After Update.
Sometimes after a major software upgrade, your PS4 goes into the database rebuild operation automatically. That is normal; don’t interrupt the process until it is over. It happened between v1.0 to v2.0 upgrades, then from 2.0 to 3.0 and so on.
How Often Should You Rebuild Your PS4 Database
Typically, you should rebuild your database every month or so. However, this frequency is dependent on how often you delete, install and change installed programs. You can vary your rebuilding schedule accordingly, but make sure you do it regularly to avoid issues with your hard drive.
Why Not Use an SSD?
It would make sense to use an SSD instead of an HDD on a PS4. After all, they’re faster, lighter and more durable, albeit more expensive. However, they have one major flaw: flash memory is finite. You can only perform read/write memory functions so many times before you wear them out. But that, on the other hand, means it can last up to 5 years or even more before it “dies”.
Still, you can purchase a solid-state hard drive and install it in your PS4 or PS4 Pro. That way you won’t have to rebuild the database at all. Please check the best SSD for PS4 and the best SSD for PS4 Pro lists.
Game consoles are simply specialized computer systems. Just as you would carry out maintenance on your personal computer, so should you on the PS4. That also applies to previous versions such as the PS3, with only a slight difference in the actual method.
It might be a time-consuming procedure, but database rebuilding for your PS4 ensures that your console keeps running flawlessly. It helps you avoid many potential problems, so you can enjoy your games without annoying interruptions.
How do I rebuild my database if both of my USB ports do not work. Experienced a power surge and the two USB ports then USB ports no longer worked on the restart of the system.
Nothing can help but taking your console to a technician.
“you can defragment an external HDD using a PC” …… How do I do this?
That’s only if you’re using an external hard drive for backup purposes. If you use it as an extended storage, it’s not possible.
Thanks for your quick response! I thought that was the case. This is unfortunate.
I find it totally amazing that three days later my only response is “your comment is awaiting moderation” — looks like it’s time to “pickle the PS4!” Thanks!
Apologies Rich, we have lots of comments to moderate and you surely know how much time and effort this requires. We usually answer within three days. Anyway, your previous comment has been answered. Thanks for your patience.
I have a PS4 Thin-Pro — new to this (it’s my grandsons) — I’m rebuilding the database in safe mode — the TV screen is black, however the PS4 still has a blinking blue light going… How will I know if the database rebuild worked / failed? Many thanks in advance
It seems that the PS4 hard drive is malfunctioning. The database rebuilding shouldn’t behave like this. You have to try first to format the PS4 hard drive then re-install the PS4 system software from scratch.
Do I need an external hard drive or USB to rebuild the database? Believe it or not the person I am trying to help doesn’t have either and I do not want to ruin their PS4, but the last step says connect a USB device without a system update on it. Thanks for the help.
No you don’t. A USB storage device is only needed when full initializing the PS4 or when updating the PS4 system software offline.
If I rebuild my PS4 database, will I have to reinstall DLC for my games?
No, you won’t.