The PS5 might be Sony’s shiny new console, but plenty of us are still happily playing our PS4s. That is, unless the system can’t read our discs. It’s a little more than frustrating when the PS4 refuses to play the $80 game you just popped in the disc drive. If you’re experiencing this issue, these tricks can help.
First, though: I buy almost all my games digitally, so I’ve never encountered this issue on my PS4. Instead, the problem came to my attention from this Reddit thread, in which the poster complained their PS4 would only read their Elden Ring disc, and no other: not Dark Souls 3, not Sekiro, nor any of their older PS4 discs. While the comments are full of jokes about this being FromSoftware’s design — that OP’s PS4 is an Elden Ring machine now — it did spark a discussion about the different steps you can take to get your PS4 reading discs again.
Shut down your PS4
Might this step fail? Sure. But it’s important to try the easiest step before going through with more involved options. Plus, the PS4’s “rest” mode makes it easy to never fully power off the system. All tech needs a power cycle every now and then, and your PlayStation is no exception.
Just in case you haven’t shut down your PS4 since 2013, you can do so by holding down the power button on your controller, then by going to Power > Turn Off PS4. You can also hold down the power button on the PS4 for three seconds to fully shut it off.
Tap your PS4
No, seriously. Tapping your PS4 is a legitimate workaround for this problem, anecdotally speaking. In order for it to work, insert your disc into the PS4, then tap on the console above the disc drive while the disc is initially being read. While many on this Reddit thread claim this trick works for them, they are divided as to which position the PS4 should be in while tapping. Some say it only works when the PS4 is lying flat, while others say the device needs to be upright.
Try both orientations for yourself, and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work right away. If nothing happens, eject the disc and try again. Some users say it can take upwards of 10 attempts before the PS4 will finally read the disc.
Rebuild the PS4’s database
Unless your PS4 has an SSD, it’s using a spinning hard drive to store all your files. When the system saves new files to the hard drive, it tends to fill whatever space is available, without caring about what files go where. Over time, this random storage can cause problems for memory access, since the system is spending extra time looking across the whole hard drive for related files. This hard drive issue can also affect disc reading down the line.
That’s where rebuilding the database comes into play. When you rebuild the PS4’s database, it sorts all existing files in a logical manner. That way, the system doesn’t need to look all over the place for different files that are related, since now they’re stored in the same space. It can be useful to rebuild your database even when your PS4 isn’t having trouble reading discs, so in a way, this is killing two birds with one stone.
To rebuild the database, you’ll need to boot your PS4 into safe mode. Start by shutting down your PS4, then make sure to plug your controller into the console, rather than use it wirelessly. Now, hold the PS4’s power button until you hear two beeps. The first beep will be the usual tone heard when starting up the system, but the second will come about seven seconds later.
When asked, press the power button on your controller. From here, you’ll find a list of options. Choose “Rebuild Database,” sit back, and wait for the process to finish. This can take anywhere from three to 20 hours, so you’ll need to be patient.
Restore your PS4 to factory settings
The last software fix to try is a factory reset, the nuclear option for all software-related issues. If the reason your PS4 is having trouble reading discs has something to do with the OS, erasing everything and installing a fresh version of the software is likely to fix it.
To get started is head to Settings > Initialization > Initialize PS4. You can also boot into safe mode again and choose “Reinstall System Software” to wipe your PS4 clean.
Repair the PS4’s disc drive
If you’ve ruled out a software issue, the likely culprit turns to the disc drive itself. The good news is these drives can be easy to fix, whether you do it yourself or take it somewhere to be repaired.
TronicsFix has a great video showing exactly how to remove the disc drive and inspect it for issues. It’s possible your problem is the same as the example shown in the video, wherein one of the rollers became disconnected from the drive. TroncsFix does an admirable job walking you through exactly which screws to remove when, what to look for, how to fix it, and how to put everything back together again.