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Transfer PS4 games and data to your new PS5

Got a new PlayStation 5? Here's how to keep playing your favorite PlayStation 4 games on Sony's updated console.

You may have a new console but that doesn't mean throwing out your old games. Sony has made it easy to set up your new PlayStation 5 ($799 at Amazon) and get started playing many of your favorite PlayStation 4 titles. That's assuming you've been able to get your hands on the latest PlayStation -- check the PS5 inventory now if you're still looking.

Here are a few ways to transfer your PS4 games and save data to your PS5. 

Data transfer

The first method is a straight-up data transfer. Before you start, check the System Software Update section under Settings to make sure your PS4 has the latest update installed. 

Also, make sure you're signed into the same account that you're planning to use on the new system.

ps5cables

Cable management courtesy of Miranda July.

Chris Parker/CNET

You'll need to connect both systems to the same network, either through a wired LAN connection or via Wi-Fi. To speed up the Wi-Fi transfer, Sony suggests connecting the PS4 directly to the PS5 with an ethernet cable.  

When they're connected, navigate to Settings > System > System Software > Data Transfer.

Hit Continue a couple of times, then the PS5 will ask you to press the power button on the PS4 for 1 second. After a few moments you'll be presented with a list of the games and apps that have "saved data" you might want to transfer. 

Go ahead and select some, or none, or all of that data, depending on your needs, then hit Next. We'll address saved data more in a bit.

Follow the prompts in this section to select the games you want to move to your PS5 and begin the copying process. Luckily the data will continue to transfer in the background, so you can keep playing Miles Morales while that's happening. 

You can check the downloads section on the PS5 to check your progress. As each game finishes copying over you can play it right away, even while the others are still transferring.

ps4transfer
Chris Parker/CNET

Use an external storage drive 

The next option, which is my favorite, is to use an external hard drive. You may already have one connected to your PS4 for storing extra games. If not, it's easy to format a drive for use on both consoles.

Plug your drive into the  PS4, then navigate to Settings > Devices > USB Storage Devices.

Select your drive and then choose Format As Extended Storage. Select Next, then Format, and Confirm

To start transferring your games, back out to the settings menu, select Storage, and when it's done calculating, pick System Storage.

Follow the prompts to select the games you want to copy to your drive and select Move to Extended Storage.

Before you unplug the drive, go back to USB storage devices and select Stop Using This External Storage to safely unplug your drive. 

Plug the drive into the PS5. Go to Settings > Storage > External Storage > Games and Apps. You'll be able to see the games you just moved over. 

Now you have a choice: Either move your PS4 games onto your PS5 or you can leave them on the extended storage drive.

The PS5 lets you play your PS4 games right from the external drive, so that's where i'm planning to keep them. This will save space on your PS5's too-small internal drive for PS5 games, which can't be played from the external storage drive. (At least not yet.)

ps4discs
Chris Parker/CNET

As we're in the early days of the PS5's life cycle, there have been some reported issues involving external storage. I haven't run into any of them myself, but if you're worried about these problems, I'd suggest disconnecting the external drive when it's not in use. 

Also, some games, like the original Spider-Man for PS4, have PS5 upgrades you can install. In those cases you'll have to install the new PS5 version directly on your PS5's system disk, not the external drive. Just something to keep in mind if you're trying to save space. 

But once those bugs get worked out, and until we get the option to upgrade the internal drives on the PS5, I think storing all the PS4 games on the external drive is a great solution. 

Install games and date to the PS5 from a PS4 disc

Many PS4 discs are compatible with the PS5, and can be installed on the new system the same way they always have been. Just pop in your PS4 disc to install the game.

You're going to need the disc version of the PS5 rather than the digital version to use this method. But odds are you already had this in mind when you decided which system to buy.

One thing to note here: If you have an external drive attached, there's a default setting that will automatically install PS4 games to the external storage. That's a win for me, but you can turn that option off in the settings if it's not what you want.

ps5psplus

Thank heavens for free PS Plus games.

Chris Parker/CNET

Download from PlayStation Store

This might seem like the most obvious option, but if you've bought or downloaded games from the PlayStation store in the past, you can download them again onto your new system. 

This works for any compatible games you've bought from the store. It'll also work with any PlayStation Plus free games you've added to your library before, as long as your account is still active. 

If you've got a fast internet connection, or just want to download a couple of titles, this might be your best bet overall. And again, if you have an external drive attached, these will be installed on that drive automatically, unless you change the default setting.

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It's now a two-console household.

Chris Parker/CNET

Saved data 

That does it for the games themselves, but don't forget your saves. 

As mentioned above, you can copy those over to the PS5 using the data transfer method, but unfortunately, you can't copy them to the external storage device you're using for games. 

You have a couple of other options as well. 

On your PS4, go to Settings > Application Saved Data Management

You can now upload to online storage if you have an active PS Plus account, or you can copy the data to a USB storage device. (A USB thumb drive would suffice.)

You can upload your game saves individually, or press the Options button on the controller to select multiple titles.

Once you copy to the cloud or to your USB stick, find the Saved Data and Game/App Settings section on the PS5. Then select the title or titles you want to transfer, and either download or copy them over.

While you're there, you can check what's going on with your PS5 save data. It's set to auto-sync to the cloud by default, so if that's what you want to happen, you're all set. You'll have backups handy when the PS6 comes out.

Be sure to check out CNET's How To Do It All channel on YouTube for more handy tips like this.