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[HowTo] Boot a PlayStation 3 into safe mode

Safe Mode is your PlayStation 3’s last line of defense against bad firmwares.  As per Sony’s recommendation, you should enter safe mode only if:

  • When the PS3™ system is started up, the XMB™ menu is not displayed (only the wave screen background appears)
  • When the PS3™ system is started up, nothing appears on the screen
  • When the PS3™ system is started up, a message stating is displayed > > Restore operation > Restart
    Original message is displayed again or the system stops during restoration.
  • When the PS3™ system is started up, a message stating is displayed > > Rebuild > Failure > System stops while formatting hard disk drive.
  • The system stops while restarting after a PS3™ system update or while updating or rebuilding the database. The situation does not improve even when the system is restarted.

Safe mode allows you to do the following:

  1. Restart System – Ends safe mode and starts up the PLAYSTATION 3 normally.
  2. Restore Default Settings – Performs the same operations as on the XMB™, and also deletes PlayStation®Network account information from the system.
  3. Restore File System – Attempts to repair all areas on the hard disk drive where files can be saved. Corrupted data may be erased if it cannot be recovered.
  4. Rebuild Database – Deletes messages, playlists, changes made on screens, trimming information for pictures in , video thumbnails, video playback history and video resume information.
    This operation may take a long time depending on the type and number of data items.
  5. Restore PS3 System – IMPORTANT: All data will be lost by performing this step.
    This will reformat the hard drive on the PLAYSTATION 3, deleting all data and restoring it to as if it just came out of the box. This is the same as on the XMB.
  6. System Update – Updates the PS3 system software. This can only be done with an update file already saved on an external storage media.

Important Note: It’s a given the you should only tinker with Safe mode if you know what you’re doing as you can easily delete ALL the data on your PS3 which will be unrecoverable unless you have a backup drive or a PlayStation Plus account (for save files).

How to activate Safe Mode for the PlayStation 3:

Step 1: Turn off the PLAYSTATION 3 by holding the Power button on the front of the unit till the Power light is red.

Step 2:

  1. Touch and hold the Power button, you will hear the first beep, meaning the PLAYSTATION 3 is powering on.
  2. Continue to hold the Power button and after about 5 seconds, you will hear a second beep, indicating the video reset.
  3. Continue to hold the Power button and after about another 5 seconds you will hear a third beep and the system will power off (Power light is red).

Step 3:

  1. Touch and hold the Power button, you will hear the first beep, again for the PLAYSTATION 3 to power on.
  2. Continue to hold the Power button and after about 5 seconds, you will hear a second beep for video reset.
  3. Continue to hold the Power button and after about another 5 seconds you will hear a quick double beep.  At that point release the Power button.  If you succeeded in activating Safe Mode, you will see a message on the screen saying, “Connect the controller using a USB cable and then press the PS button.”
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  4. Connect a USB cable to the controller and the PLAYSTATION 3 and press the PS button to enter Safe Mode.
  5. Then you will see the Safe Mode menu.
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