Like with the Xbox One, our foremost and perhaps only major gripe about the PlayStation 4 is that the 500GB hard drive of the entry model is hopelessly light on storage capacity, especially considering the mammoth file sizes of some of the best games out there. And we suspect it will only get worse as developers add more and more to their games in order to satisfy the new generation gamers and their raised expectations.
Even bought disc games require installation onto the drive before being played, so you'll find the storage that comes with the PS4 to be woefully inadequate if you're a heavy consumer of titles. And considering the prices of some in the recent sales, it needn't even cost the Earth to accrue a healthy collection.
Yes, Sony introduced its own 1TB version last year, but what if you can't afford it or have an older model?
If either of those are true, you are best advised to take matters into your own hands and upgrade the drive yourself. It's not too expensive to do so, especially if you're just looking to double the capacity, and that's exactly what we decided to do in order to give you a handy guide if you fancy following suit.
And those who own 1TB models can even use the following steps to upgrade their machines to 2TB or more. Firmware update 3.50 increased the allowed maximum storage size to a whopping 4TB.
Unlike the Xbox One which can be upgraded very simply through the addition of an external USB 3.0 hard drive, the PS4 requires you to take at least part of the console apart. Sony makes it very simple for you, but you will still find the process a little long-winded. The easy part though is choosing a drive.
The PS4 uses a 2.5-inch SATA HDD, the type of which you'll find in a laptop. However, not any old 2.5-inch drive will work. To fit the PS4 it will need to be no greater than 9.5mm in depth or it will be too big for the hard drive enclosure drawer. There are some out there that will meet the specifications, at around the £100 mark, but to be on the safe side we opted for a Western Digital WD10JPVX - one of the company's 5400RPM Blue drives with a 7mm depth which fits nicely. It's SATA III and therefore capable of speeds up to 6Gbps but sadly as the PS4 is only SATA II capable, it will only work at the console's limit of 3Gbps.
The main reason to opt for the WD Blue though is that it can be sourced fairly cheaply (around £50 on Amazon.co.uk, down from an original retail price of around £80). Plus, we've had a lot of WD drives in kit over the years and always found them reliable.
Some have also suggested SSD equivalents, which ramp up load speeds dramatically, but can be prohibitively expensive if you're trying to increase storage rather than shrink it.
As previously mentioned, installing a PS4 hard drive is a lot more time consuming than increasing the storage of an Xbox One. In that case it was almost as simple as plugging in an external drive. The PS4 will take a bit more to get up and running, which includes having to back up files as you'll have to completely start afresh once the new drive is in place.
The files that will need to be backed up are games saves and any video clips or screenshots you wish to keep. You can do the former in a couple of ways.
If you are a PlayStation Plus member you can upload all of your save files to the cloud, ready to download again when you're done. In fact, if you had already set this up to happen automatically you needn't bother yourself with this part of the process again. If you haven't and have a fair few games, this can take a while.
If you aren't a PlayStation Plus member or wish to keep a more local copy of your saves, you will need a USB memory stick or external hard drive formatted to FAT, FAT32 or exFAT standard to store data on. Plug it into the PS4 through one of the front USB ports and get ready for a laborious process.
Head to Settings, Application Saved Data Management, Saved Data in System Storage and you'll see Copy to USB Storage Device. Go into that menu and you'll see a list of all your games. Enter each one individually and you can tick the files you want to copy and confirm. The files will instantly be copied onto the external drive (or uploaded to the cloud if you go through that route).
Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to batch upload or copy all game files so you'll have to go through each game at a time. It took us a good 20 minutes or so to do all our files. And it'll take just as long to reinstall them after too. Now we wished we'd set automatic uploads from the off.
Also remember to back up your captured videos and screengrabs from the Capture Gallery section of System Storage Management. And once you have you're ready to install the new drive.
Installing the drive
Make sure you completely power down your PS4, not just into rest mode, and then unplug it from any of the wires at the back. Put the console on a flat surface and then slide off the shiny part of the casing. It shouldn't be difficult to do.
Inside you'll gain access to the hard drive enclosure, which is fixed in place with just one large screw with the PlayStation symbols on it. Undue that with a Phillips screwdriver and you can slide out the existing drive using the small handle.
Unscrew the four black screws, two either side of the hard drive enclosure - leaving the rubber holders in place. Then remove the drive that came with the PS4.
Replace it with the new drive and screw the black screws back in place.
Slide the drive back into the console until it feels like it has attached properly and screw it in place using the large PlayStation screw.
Clip the lid back into place and that part of the job is done.
Reinstalling the system software
As the console now has a brand new drive with none of the system software installed, you'll need to reinstall it manually. You'll definitely need an external USB drive (or memory stick) on at least 1GB in capacity for this part of the set-up, even if you stored all of your saved games in the cloud.
Create a folder called "PS4" on the drive using a computer, then a folder inside that called "UPDATE". You then need to download the latest system software file from Sony and be wary of following some links on the PlayStation site as they can send you to earlier versions that won't work (you'll just get an error message when trying to install).
When we performed our upgrade the PS4 required system software version 2.30 which we found here at playstation.com/ps4initialise, but now you can get system software 3.50. It will be 800MB or more to download but is the complete software, not just an update. If the file is much smaller it's the wrong one and won't work.
Move the downloaded file (named PS4UPDATE.PUP) to the UPDATE folder on the drive and you're ready to install it on the console.
Reattach all of the leads into the rear of the PS4, plug your USB drive into the front and attach a DualShock 4 controller via its own USB cable. Then press the on switch on the front of the machine for seven seconds or longer. This will boot up the console into Safe Mode and give you some options. Choose "Initialise PS4 (Reinstall System Software)" and the PS4 will find the update (if the correct one) and install it. It only takes around five minutes in total and then your PS4 will reboot and start up as if it has just been unboxed and set up for the very first time.
Of course, you'll then have to reinstall everything again and sign into your PlayStation Network profile, but at least you'll have much more storage space than when you started.
As we opted for a 5400RPM drive much like the one that came with the machine in the first place we've not really noticed much of a performance upgrade. We weren't aiming for speed though (for that you can opt for a 7200RPM drive instead if you're willing to splash a little more cash) and just having that extra storage space is making a big difference to our gaming lives.