A Sony PlayStation 4 console with a DualShock 4 controller.
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Whether you’ve logged 10 hours or 100 playing a game, starting over because something happened to the save file is gut-wrenching. Don’t let this happen to you! Back up your PS4 save data, and save yourself the pain.

Why Back Up Your Save Data?

Let’s say you’re playing a game with a known issue that hasn’t yet been patched. This particular issue causes crashes that some people have said might corrupt save data. You’ve read the horror stories on Reddit and Twitter and want to take steps to safeguard your save data.

By manually backing up your save file, you can take a snapshot of your progress at a certain time. Then, even if the worst happens, you’ll only lose any progress since the last snapshot. It’ll still sting, but it’s better than a complete do-over.

Now, imagine you turn on your PS4 one day only to find an onscreen error. The system says the hard drive is corrupt and must be formatted if you want to use your console. You’ve potentially just lost your entire library of save data.

A fire, a flood, or any kind of sudden hardware failure can render your hard drive useless. With an automated online backup, when you finally get your console up and running, your save data will be waiting for you.

What if you’re staying at a friend’s house and want to jump into a game where you left off at home. With Sony’s cloud backups, you can just log in to your PSN account and download your save file. When you’re finished playing, you can also upload your updated save file so you don’t lose your progress when you play again at home.

Safeguarding your save data, and, by extension, your progress, provides peace of mind. It’s also convenient to have on-demand save file downloads available in case you ever need one.

Automatically Back Up PS4 Save Data to the Cloud

To back up your save data on the cloud automatically, you have to subscribe to PlayStation Plus. You can then do this via the PlayStation Store or the PlayStation Plus icon on the PS4 Home screen. In the U.S., the service is $59.99 per year or $9.99 per month. With a subscription, you also get two free games per month and the ability to play online

The "PlayStation Subscriptions" status menu on Playstation 4.

If you already subscribe to PlayStation Plus, cloud saves are probably already enabled. You can store up to 100 GB of save data to the cloud.

You can only upload save data automatically from your primary console, though. If you only have one PS4, you don’t have to worry about this. If you play on multiple consoles, you can make one the primary PS4 for your account by going to Settings > Account Management > Activate as Your Primary PS4.

Next, make sure your console remains connected to the internet whenever you enable Rest Mode. This ensures the console can complete the upload as soon as you’re finished playing. To enable this, go to Settings > Power Save Settings > Set Functions Available in Rest Mode > Stay Connected to the Internet.

The "Set Features Available in Rest Mode" menu on PlayStation 4.

Now, make sure the “Enable Automatic Uploads” option is enabled under Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Auto-Upload. If it’s already enabled, your library of saves is already safe in the cloud. You can also specify auto-upload settings for specific games if you want.

The "Auto-Upload" menu on PS4.

When you first enabled this setting, you might have to wait a few hours for all your save data to transfer to the cloud. This depends entirely on how much save data you have, and the upload speed of your internet connection.

Manually Back Up PS4 Save Data to the Cloud

You can also upload saves to Sony’s servers manually. If you have automatic uploads enabled, you can probably leave this alone and let your PS4 handle it.

The main reason you might want to upload saves manually is if you play on a PS4 that isn’t set as your primary console. If you want to maintain progress across multiple consoles, you’ll have to upload the save files stored on any other PS4s manually.

Uploading manually is very straightforward, but there are two ways you can do it. If the game is on the Home screen, highlight it, and then press the Options button. Select “Upload/Download Saved Data.” From here, you can choose “Upload All” or “Select and Upload” if there’s a specific save file you want to upload.

Select "Upload/Download Saved Data" on the PS4 Home screen.

You can also access these options via the console preferences. Just head to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage, and then choose “Upload to Online Storage.”

Wait for the PS4 to read the disk (it can take a minute or two), and then select the game you want. You can also hit Options and choose “Select Multiple Applications” to upload entire folders, instead.

The "Upload/Download Saved Data" menu on PS4.

When you upload a save file, you’ll be asked if you want to overwrite any corresponding files that exist in storage. Not all games support multiple save files, but many do. If you’re playing a game with a single save file, you’ll have to make sure the version you’re uploading is the one you want to keep.

Back Up PS4 Save Data to USB for Free

If you don’t have PlayStation Plus, you can still back up your save data manually. You’ll need a spare USB drive. Make sure it’s empty, as the PS4 might have to format the drive before it can use it, which will erase the contents.

You can also format the USB drive to exFAT or FAT32 (NTFS and APFS won’t work) beforehand if you want. You can do this on Windows or in “Disk Utility” on a Mac.

First, connect the USB drive to one of the USB ports on the front of your PS4. Then, head to Settings > Application Saved Data Management > Saved Data in System Storage > Copy to USB Storage Device. If you don’t see this option, make sure the USB drive is completely inserted and correctly formatted.

The "Copy to USB Storage Device" menu on PS4.

Wait for the PS4 to scan your drive. On the next screen, you can select an individual game, highlight any files you want to save, and then select “Copy.”

The "Copying" progress bar on the "Copy to USB Storage Device" screen.

If you want to back up multiple applications, hit Options, and then choose “Select Multiple Applications” to copy entire folders of save files for multiple game titles.

Manual USB backups are the best safeguard against single save files that become corrupted. If a corrupted save file is automatically sent to PlayStation Plus, you’ll lose the old (uncorrupted) version. You can also turn off automatic uploads, but that puts your other save files at risk.

You never know when something will go wrong. However, if you’re playing a game with a known issue (or one that crashes a lot), manual USB backups are worth the effort. Then, if something goes wrong and your cloud save file is no good, you can restore manually and lose less progress.

Restore Save Data from Cloud or USB

Manually restoring your save data is easy—just head to Settings > Application Saved Data Management. There, you can choose either “Saved Data in Online Storage” or “Saved Data on USB Storage Device.” Select the source from which you want to copy the data, and then select “Download to System Storage.”Select "Download to System Storage" on PS4.

On the next screen, you’ll see a list of games. Press the Options button on your controller to use the “Select Multiple Applications” option and restore multiple games at once. You can also select a specific game and restore specific save files if you prefer. Select “Download/Copy” and your save data will be restored.

Can You Share PS4 Save Files?

Your save data is tied to the PlayStation Network account on which it was created, not the console. This means you can download and transfer your save data to any other PS4, provided the same account exists on that console.

However, it also means you can’t share save files with other players—they’re only accessible to you.

Looking for more PlayStation tips? Learn how to speed up your PS4 downloads so your games will update faster.

RELATED: How to Speed Up Your PlayStation 4's Downloads

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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