In instances of otherwise irreparable errors or wanting to wipe your console clean, the PlayStation 3's factory reset tool can be indispensable. There are a few of ways to restore your PS3, with varying levels of extremity and data loss. Two options, "Restore Default Settings" and "Restore PS3 System," can be accessed directly from the PS3's home menu during regular operation. For some of the other options you'll need to enter "Safe Mode," an operating mode with minimal functionality designed specifically for running these processes.
PS3 Home Menu
Turn on the PS3 and sign in to a user account. This account doesn't need to be connected to PlayStation Network and you don't need to be connected to the Internet, so you can use virtually any account to perform this task.
Select the "Settings" heading from the home menu. You'll have to scroll to all the way to the left, through the other menu options, as "Settings" is the very last selection available.
Select "Restore Default Settings" if you want to preserve your game data or don't want to alter data for other user accounts. This option will revert all system settings to their default configuration, including game settings, music settings and more. Before you confirm the restoration, a complete list of all settings that will be reverted will be presented. You'll also be walked through the initial set up process once finished, just like when you first turned on the PS3. This will only affect the selected user account.
Select "Restore PS3 System" if you want to completely restore the PS3 to factory defaults. This option will reformat the hard drive, completely wiping all game data, downloaded content and other data added after you first started up your PS3.
Using Safe Mode
Power down the PS3 by pressing and holding the power button until the power light turns red. The PS3 has to be shut down in this manner to run Safe Mode, as opposed to the regular shutdown sequence.
Press and hold the power button for about 10 seconds. The PS3 will go through a special boot up sequence, wherein you'll hear the usual beep associated with the start up sequence for the PS3, followed by a second beep five seconds later and a third after another five seconds. At this point, the PS3 will power down again with the power light turning red. Don't let go of the power button until you hear this third beep.
Press and hold the power button again as you did before, waiting for the special boot sequence to complete before releasing the button. This time, the third beep will instead be a quick double beep, at which point you can release the power button. If you've performed the sequence correctly, you'll see a message on the screen instructing you to connect a controller to the PS3 using the USB cable and press the PS button. Doing so will launch Safe Mode.
Select "Restore Default Settings" from the menu, which will perform the same operation it would if you ran this option from the PS3's settings menu.
Select "Restore File System" if "Restore Default Settings" didn't fix your issue. This option will repair any corrupted data on the hard disk and delete corrupted data that can't be repaired.
Select "Rebuild Database" if you're still experiencing problems. This option will delete messages, playlists and other information that may be corrupted or otherwise affecting performance.
Select "Restore PS3 System" if none of the other options have fixed the issue. This option will perform the same function as it would if you selected it from the PS3 settings menu.
If the problem prompting you to consider a system restore is a minor bug, you should check for and install any available updates first to see if the issue has been addressed.
The "Restore PS3 System" option should be your last resort if no other fixes will work, or if you need to purge all data from the PS3. Data removed in this manner is irretrievable, meaning all progress in any of your games, downloaded titles, music and video will be completely lost. While downloaded content can be restored with no cost from the PlayStation store or a transfer from your computer, game data will be lost for good.
"Restore PS3 System" is a good option if you're trying to sell your old PS3 and wanting to remove any personal information or data from the system. It also ensures whomever buys your PS3 will have minimal errors to deal with as a result of bugged updates or custom firmware packages.
You should only access Safe Mode if you can't access the PS3's menu directly. Safe Mode operations can and often will delete data, including playlists and other information.
Use each option in the Safe Mode menu systematically as necessary. If one of the options resolves your issues, stop and resume normal operation of your PS3. Otherwise, you risk unnecessarily deleting data that you won't be able to restore.
The shutdown sequence needed to start Safe Mode is the incorrect method of shutting the system down during regular operation. When you aren't trying to enter Safe Mode, you should use the in-game shut-down command from the PS button menu.