How To Auto-Update Games on PS4

Notwithstanding that the PS4 is coming up 8 years old, there are still issues with getting games to automatically update... a highly annoying issue particularly if you have limited time to play. Here's how to fix it.

Back in the day, when I wasn't working at home writing games articles for wonderful websites, my commute to work cost me 1 hour daily, I worked in a cubicle for 8 hours, had a 1-hour lunch of reheated food and all I wanted was to get home and play PS4, to forget my mediocre life.

Nothing so disheartening than jumping on the PS4 just to get stuck with an game update

At home, I would eagerly fire up my console to play Final Fantasy XIV or a few matches of Apex Legends, when suddenly a new 500-gigabyte update would end my enthusiasm, like summer rain on a weekend at the beach. I live in the countryside, so my internet isn't what you call good, therefore the update would take such an overly long time that I would put my PlayStation into sleep mode and spend my free time reading a book instead.

If only there was a way to ensure that your PS4 automatically downloads game updates when they become available... oh yeah, there is! So to avoid frustration like mine, I will teach you how to setup automatic downloads, so when you turn on your PS4, it is already prepared, scented, and waiting for you like it’s a Valentine's Day celebration.

How to Update Games on PS4 Automatically

First, turn on your PS4. Easy part! Second, you need to have an active Playstation Plus subscription to allow download in rest mode. If you don't, it will only automatically download updates if the PS4 is turned on. Here's a little walkthrough on how to set it all up:

  1. Go to the PS4 dashboard, press the up arrow, and select "Settings."

    Enjoy my awesome FFXIV theme for a while.
  2. Select "System."
  3. Go to "Automatic Downloads."

    Automatic-ish. Keep going, you will understand what I mean.
  4. On the Automatic Downloads page, click on "Application Update Files." You should see a checkmark appear to the right if it's active

    Remember you need a PlayStation Plus membership to download files. And if you have one, you can buy a new game on your way home and set it to download if it is on rest mode.
  5. Press the Back button (circle button) to get back to the main Settings page, and then select "Power Save Settings."

    Nothing like playing and saving the planet at the same time. Twice, depending on the game.
  6. Select "Set Features Available in Rest Mode."
  7. Select "Stay Connected to the Internet."

    Weirdly enough, they don't warn here you need a PS Plus subscription like the prior information.

That should be it! Just keep in mind your PS4 needs to be on rest mode to automatically download updates. If you shut it down, don't expect it to magically turn on by itself and download updates. If that happens, call Ghostbusters.

To put your PS4 into rest mode, the fastest way is to press and hold the PS button on the controller, and then select "Enter Rest Mode" on the Quick Menu that shows up.

It's so easy you can do it at home!

How to Update Games on PS4 Manually

When you buy a digital game, it is downloaded with all updates to date - at least it should be. However, if you don't have automatic downloads active or haven't played the game for a long time (more on this below), you can kindly ask the game to check for new updates.

  1. On the dashboard, look for the game you want to update.
  2. Press the Options button on the controller to open a side menu.
  3. Select the "Check for Update" option.

    Hopefully, there's no update. FFXIV's patches are enormous.
  4. If there is an update available, just confirm it and proceed with the installation.
  5. If you want to know what the hell just updated, you can choose the "Update History" option in the side menu to see a description.

Troubleshooting - My PS4 Didn't Update My Games

Unfortunately, the above system isn't perfect and there are a few caveats we need to understand, in order to fully enjoy the automatic update feature.

Even though there's no official statement from Sony about this issue, as an avid PS4 gamer and proponent of improvements to its download process, I know for a fact (and searches of Reddit will prove the same) that the PS4 sweeps for updates once a day. In my case, it's at the crack of dawn (GMT-3), and I can't confirm whether it changes according to your timezone.

Another slightly annoying feature is that the PS4 automatically updates recently played games only. And what does it consider a non-recent game? No clue. It may be two-three months in solitary or even more. But if you want to play CoD Warzone after a few months having left it in the dust, expect a 60GB update before being able to throw stones in the Gulag.

There are a few workarounds to search your entire game library for updates. One of them is to download a free theme on the PlayStation Store while it's in rest mode (like this one). It forces your PS4 to boot up and download the theme, during which time is also checks for more updates. However, that's not a guaranteed technique.

One workaround I know is effective, and I discovered it by accident, is to rebuild your PS4's database. Rebuilding the database has a lot of advantages. It removes corrupted data and reorganizes your files, improving your system's performance. Also, oddly enough, it fully sweeps your entire library in search of updates. The last time I rebuilt the database, my internet almost blew up with the number of updates downloading. There's just one slight problem to this though - if you organize your games by folders and have an external drive, expect it to be messy since it will delete all the folders and spill games all around.

How To Rebuild The PS4's Database

  1. Power off your PS4, do not choose rest mode.
  2. With the PS4 off, hold the power button down. You will have one quick beep, keep holding until you hear another. If your TV is on, the image (as below) will state that you have entered Safe Mode.

    A lot of options will appear after pressing the PS button. Beware what you click.
  3. Connect your DualShock 4 controller to the USB slot in the front of the PS4.
  4. Scroll down in the menu until you reach option 5, Rebuild Database.

    Trust me, it won't break your PS4. But in the case it does, you won't find me. Ever.
  5. Press the X button to start rebuilding the database.

Rebuilding your PS4's database may take minutes or hours depending on how full your console is and how often you install and delete games. When PS4 powers on the dashboard, it will load game by game, at which point it will look for updates in each one.

Murillo Zerbinatto
Murillo is a passionate lover of role-playing games, fantasy books and super powers' anime. Has just begun a career in game writing, hoping to one day co-write Final Fantasy XVII.