How to Put The PS4 into Safe Mode and Take it Out


I’ve been unfairly unlucky with my PlayStation systems. Not only did I lose three PS3s to the yellow light of death, but I’m on my second PlayStation 4 right now after the first one mysteriously stopped working. 

This string of disasters isn’t from a lack of maintenance, though. In fact, I’ve managed to keep dying systems online far longer than they had any right to be. I’ve troubleshot every issue you could possibly think of when it comes to PlayStation, so when I say I know my way around Safe Mode on the PS4, I mean it. 

I have used the PlayStation 4’s Safe Mode far more than I wish I had to. That experience has taught me just how powerful Safe Mode is, though. It’s like a problem-solving cheat sheet. That’s why I want to tell you about it; you could potentially save yourself a full repair job just by clicking on a few Safe Mode menu options. 

How do you put the PS4 into Safe Mode? While your console is off, hold down the power button for seven seconds or until you hear two beeps. The first beep indicates that the PS4 has been powered on, the second announces the launch of Safe Mode. 

That’s how you launch Safe Mode on PS4. Taking it out of safe mode is just as simple, too. 

I’m going to deep dive into PS4’s Safe Mode down below. So if you need to know what Safe Mode on PS4 is for and when you should be using it, read on. You’ll be saving yourself a lot of headaches in the future. 

What is the PS4’s Safe Mode

In essence, the PS4s safe mode is a troubleshooting menu. It’s a backup menu that the developers installed into the operating system. It’s separate from the PlayStation’s main menu and gives you access to a number of admin features that you normally wouldn’t be able to use. 

That‘s why it’s vital that you know what you’re doing before you even open up Safe Mode. One wrong click can, in the worst-case scenario, literally uninstall the PlayStation OS from your console. 

That’s not to say your system will be bricked, but you will have to manually install the operating system back onto the PS4 if this does happen. You shouldn’t be able to do any permanent damage in Safe Mode, but you can make life extremely difficult for yourself if you’re not careful. 

In Sony’s own words, “Safe Mode allows you to start your PlayStation console with only the most basic functions alive”. If your PS4 won’t work for you normally because of some sort of error or bug, then chances are it will work in Safe Mode. If it doesn’t, then you’re probably looking at a hardware problem.

That’s what Safe Mode is all about: errors and bugs. It’s used to deal with the software side of things on your PS4, which is why not many people need to use it. PlayStations aren’t like PCs; you can’t just download any dodgy-looking file you see. Therefore, it’s rare that a software error or bug makes its way into your system. It can happen, though, hence why Safe Mode exists in the first place. 

With all of that being said, it’s important you understand that Safe Mode is, generally, a last resort. Most of your troubleshooting options will involve deleting some sort of data. How much data you wipe depends on the severity of the problem. 

That ranges from simply resorting to factory defaults (which keeps all of your games and data installed), to the aforementioned deletion of the OS. 

There are a few less severe options in Safe Mode, though. For example, you can use the menu to change the PlayStation’s default resolution to 480p on restart. This can be helpful if you’re struggling to get an image up on your TV or monitor. 

You can also use the menu to install a system software update if, for some reason, you can’t do so through the normal home menu. These updates can be made through USB or disc. 

So, all of the general info you should need on the PS4’s Safe Mode, so let’s dive a little bit deeper into some of those options I’ve just talked about. 

How to Access Safe Mode on PS4

Accessing Safe Mode is incredibly simple, as we’ve already discussed. 

First, you need to make sure that your PS4 is completely off. This involves holding down the power button for three seconds, and waiting until it no longer lights up. If you’re getting a pulsing white light on your console, it means you’ve only put it into sleep mode and won’t be able to access Safe Mode. 

Once your system is off, hold down your power button. You’ll hear one beep indicating that the PS4 has been turned on. You should hear a second beep seven seconds later, at which point you can take your finger off of the power button. 

If you’re using your controller wirelessly, you’ll be prompted to connect it to the PlayStation via a USB cable. Because Safe Mode only launches with the PS4’s most basic functions active, it removes your ability to connect to it via Bluetooth. 

Once you connect your controller, you’ll be brought into the Safe Mode menu. 

How to Get Out of Safe Mode on PS4

Getting out of Safe Mode is just as easy as getting into it. 

There are two ways to get your PS4 out of Safe Mode. First, you can turn your PlayStation off and back on again normally. As long as you don’t hold down the power button, you should launch straight into the system’s normal main menu. 

Alternatively, you can use the ‘Restart System’ option in the Safe Mode menu. This is the menu’s first option and will automatically restart the PlayStation for you, bringing you straight to the main menu without the need to power down the console. 

It’s also worth mentioning that most of the other Safe Mode options will also automatically reboot your console when they’re done. So if you do need to rebuild your database, you don’t need to sit around waiting for your system to finish. You can go, get some coffee, and pray to the PlayStation gods that it fixes your problem.

Why Would You Need to Access the PS4’s Safe Mode?

There are a million and one different reasons as to why you would need to access the PS4’s Safe Mode. Anything from a blank screen to system corruption can be a cause to use it. Let’s get specific, though. 

Your PS4 Lost Power or Disconnected Mid-Update

This is probably the most frustrating of all the possible reasons you would need to access Safe Mode. 

When you’re updating anything, whether it’s your PS4, PC, or your phone, you’re advised to make sure you maintain your internet connection and that your device doesn’t power down. In fact, your phone won’t even let you update it in some cases without being connected to a charger. 

If you do end up disconnected during an update, it’s going to leave the new version of the OS half-finished. Needless to say, that’s a whole world of hurt. Your console won’t be able to read all of this incomplete and corrupted data. In fact, if this happens, it’ll probably launch Safe Mode automatically when you start up your PS4. 

To fix this issue, you’re going to need to download the update you were downloading onto a USB drive. You can get the update here. While it’s updating, cross your fingers and hope that it works, because if it doesn’t, you’re looking at a full reinstallation. This will wipe your PS4, including all of your games, saves, updates, and pretty much everything in-between. 

You’ll still own all of your downloaded games connected to your PS account, and if you have any saves backed up to the cloud, they should be fine too. However, you will need to install the update file and your games again. 

It’s not ideal, but it is better than your console becoming a glorified paperweight. 

Your PlayStation is on but You’re Getting no Image on Your Screen

Sometimes, the worst problems have the easiest solutions. Before you assume your image issues are related to the HDMI port, give Safe Mode a chance. 

If your PlayStation gives you an output on safe mode but not normally, then count your lucky stars because you just saved $100 on a repair job. 

In this case, your problem is nothing more than a resolution miscommunication between your screen and the console. 

In Safe Mode, click on ‘Change Resolution’. This will change your system’s resolution to 480p on restart. This change in resolution should allow most monitors and TVs to pick up your PlayStation’s HDMI signal automatically, giving you an image on your screen. 

If you’re struggling to get a signal altogether, then you might be dealing with a hardware issue with the HDMI port. Unless you know how to solder ports to a motherboard, that’s a repair job you’re going to have to pay for. 

PlayStation 4 Hard Drive Failure

Nobody wants to talk about this issue on PS4, but it does happen. Hard drive failures on consoles are rare and seldom do they operate as they do on PC, but they can be just as frustrating to deal with. 

Anyone who has dealt with a corrupted hard drive before knows that, generally, your computer will tell you of the failure while it boots up. PlayStations will not do that. Instead, the console will still try to function, meaning it’s up to you to recognize the symptoms of hard drive problems yourself. 

Some of those symptoms include:

  • Overheating.
  • Your PlayStation 4 explicitly tells you it can’t read the hard drive. 
  • You cannot access your data. 
  • Data is disappearing. 
  • Your console freezes or crashes while trying to perform certain tasks. 
  • Continuous write and read disc errors. 

There are more symptoms, but these are the most common. However, not all of the above are exclusive to hard drive failure. If your console is overheating, you don’t need to panic about the entire system crashing. If it’s overheating in combination with the other symptoms, though, then that’s cause for alarm. 

Hard drive failure can be the result of both physical and logical damage. If you’re dealing with a physical problem, then I’m afraid there isn’t much that Safe Mode can do for you. 

The only way to really tell is to first try to fix logical failures yourself For that, you have three options inside Safe Mode. 

First, you can try uninstalling and reinstalling the content that your PS4 keeps having trouble with. If you have a game that continues to crash and freeze, it might be an issue with the game files rather than your entire hard drive. So uninstall and reinstall it to see if the issue persists. If it doesn’t, great! If it does, move on to the next fix. 

Restoring your PlayStation to its factory settings might fix the issues you’re having. It’s always worth trying this fix first because of its lack of severity. You’re not going to lose much data or game files, so try it and see how it turns out. 

Lastly, if all else fails, you should try to rebuild your PS4’s database. This will cause you to lose a whole lot of data, but that’s a lot better than spending money on a repair job. 

How to Turn Off Safe Mode on PS4

Turning off Safe Mode is super simple. I’ve already gone through it in the above sections, but I’ll summarize it here for you. 

Safe Mode isn’t exactly something that you turn off or on. It’s always off by default. You just enter the mode whenever you need it, rather than toggling it. So, in other words, turning off Safe Mode on your PS4 is as simple as restarting the console. 

When you power up your PlayStation 4, it will always boot normally unless you tell it to go into Safe Mode, even if you were in Safe Mode, to begin with. So, either restart your console manually or use the restart option in the Safe Mode menu. 

As long as you restart the console safely, meaning not powering it down by the socket, it will restart and boot up into the normal PS4 dashboard. 

How to Get PS4 Out of Safe Mode Without  a USB Cable For Your Controller

Getting out of Safe Mode on your PS4 without a USB for your controller is easy. Getting into it, however, not so much. 

To get out of Safe Mode without a USB cable, or even a controller at all, all you have to do is restart the console using the power button. It’s that simple. 

If you’re looking to get into Safe Mode without a USB for your controller, though, you’re out of luck. 

Because of how Safe Mode operates, you need to manually connect your Dual Shock 4 to the console before it can register with Bluetooth. If you don’t have a controller, then you’re never going to be able to get into Safe Mode to begin with. 

When you launch Safe Mode, you’ll be greeted by a pop-up telling you to plug in and connect your controller. That message won’t go away until you do that, making it impossible to connect your controller otherwise. 

Thankfully, PS4 controllers use a micro-USB connection. While USB-C is more popular these days, you should still have plenty of these chargers lying around your house from other devices. They might not fit snugly in your controller, but they should allow you to, at the very least, connect your Dualshock 4 to your PS4 system. 

Conclusion

  • Safe mode is a software troubleshooting menu that allows you to solve issues with your PlayStation. 
  • To put the PlayStation 4 into Safe Mode, turn the console off, then hold down the power button for seven seconds. 
  • To take the PS4 out of Safe Mode, restart the console while in the Safe Mode Menu. 
  • Safe Mode has a number of different options including “rebuild database” and “factory reset”.
  • Safe Mode can be used to solve software errors such as a corrupted hard drive or an HDMI issue. 
  • You must connect your controller to the PS4 with a wire to use Safe Mode.

What Next?

I hope I’ve answered any questions you have about how to use Safe Mode on the PlayStation 4. 

Safe Mode is a great problem solver, but it isn’t going to fix every single issue you’re going to face. That’s why I’m going to recommend the following articles. If none of the Safe Mode menu options are helping, the advice in these articles will. 

Give them a read before you send your PS4 to the shop. There’s nothing worse than spending $100 for a repair only to find out you could have fixed the issue yourself. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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