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Believe it or not, all PC gamers don’t use a keyboard and mouse. Shocking. Yes, but it’s the reality that some PC gamers just have to face. Unfortunately, even the famous DualShock 4 has its quirky moments when it’s being used as a keyboard and mouse stand-in.
For those who haven’t familiarized themselves with a keyboard and mouse yet, a controller is the logical step. Whether you’re a pure PC gamer, Xbox aficionado, or Sony fan, there’s no denying that the DualShock 4 is excellent at its job—comfortable, ergonomic, lightweight, and reliable.
Until it isn’t. If it’s constantly disconnecting, you’re faced with a few options. First, you fix the underlying issue. Second, learn to use a keyboard and mouse. Third, try out an Xbox controller or something manufactured just for PCs. We’re here to solve the former—fixing the underlying problem—so let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
6 Potential Fixes To PS4 Controller Disconnecting from PC
1. Restart Your PC
Why in the world would we start with the most irritating troubleshooting solution?
Well, because it’s the most irritating solution, it’s best to get it out of the way first. Before you go about restarting your PC, however, make sure your DualShock is disconnected if you’re using a physical USB connection.
- Press the Windows key on that scary keyboard thingy
- With the Start Menu up, select the virtual power button on the bottom right
- Sit back and relax while the PC restarts
- Sign back in
- You’re free to connect your PS4 controller again
- Fire up your favorite game and see if it did the trick
Of course, you should make sure you’re playing a game that has controller support. Many of them do, though some golden oldies probably do not.
2. Reset the DualShock 4 Controller
You can do this whether you are using a USB connection or Bluetooth. PlayStation 4 controllers have a reset method built-in, so you don’t have to do anything exceptional other than locate the tiny little pinhole on the back of the controller.
- Make sure the DualShock controller is turned off and disconnected
- Once you find the little pinhole, locate a very thin paperclip
- Avoid clothes pins, since the little sharp tip can damage the interior button over time
- Insert the paperclip until you hear or feel the click
- Hold it down for no less than 5 seconds
- Just to be safe, hold it for ten seconds
- Release and your controller should be reset
- Plug the controller back in or pair it again to see if it works
Resetting the DualShock often works when using it with all kinds of gaming platforms, including the PS4, tablets, iPhones, iPads, etc.
Of course, these are all primarily Bluetooth connections. It shouldn’t be any different if you’re plugging it in via USB, however, if it doesn’t work, simply move on to the next method on the list.
3. Make Sure Your USB Cable is Not Damaged
It doesn’t take much. A single crimp anywhere along the cable is enough to render it useless. Look closely, as it could have been crimped without you realizing it and straightened at some point afterward.
It’s not just a matter of the USB cord either. You need to look closely at the male end and the port on the PC. Check and make sure that neither one of them contains any dirt, debris, or dust accumulation.
At the end of the day, a closed circuit is still a closed circuit, whether you’re dealing with a 20A cord or a USB cable. Data can’t cross a gap and enough dirt or dust is often enough to create just that.
If you do find dirt, you need to gently remove it with either a Q-tip (avoid using any cleaning solutions or rubbing alcohol in this instance) or blow it out with a compressed air can.
The only drawback to the can is the possibility of driving the dirt deeper into the port.
Even though the male side goes into the port, it still has a small gap that is capable of holding debris.
This might sound unreasonable since it would be very hard to get anything inside of a USB port. However, if you live in a house full of kids, cats, or dogs, nothing should surprise you.
4. Try a Different USB Port or Bluetooth
The obvious problem with Bluetooth is input lag, something controllers on PCs are already notorious for.
If you’re playing an RPG that doesn’t require fast-twitch reflexes, you don’t have to worry about it too much. But, if you’re rocking a fast-paced ARPG or an FPS like Call of Duty, Bluetooth may be problematic.
Fortunately, PCs typically have plenty of USB ports to go around so why not try a different one? Plus, you can test other devices in that same USB port to make sure that it’s not the port (or, perhaps it is). Another controller, a thumb drive, or some other peripheral will give you an indication one way or the other.
5. Update Your Bluetooth Driver
PCs aren’t like gaming consoles. Sure, consoles have to update from time to time but PCs have a variety of different things that have to be updated. This includes the drivers.
Drivers are nothing more than a series of files on your PC that communicate to the hardware in terms of direction.
A Bluetooth driver informs the OS (Operating System) how to run the Bluetooth. It’s a bit more complicated than that but, the important thing is, you need to keep it updated.
The good news is that there is a quick and easy way to tell which drivers are running a little behind and have available updates.
- Press the Windows Key and the X key at the same time
- Select Device Manager from the narrow column that pops up
- Select Bluetooth
- Select Wireless Controller
- Select the Driver tab
- Select Update
- If an update is available for that driver, follow the onscreen instructions
It’s likely you’ll see multiple Bluetooth options when you select the Bluetooth Menu in the column. Feel free to update the drivers on every one of them. That way, you’ll ensure that you’re running the latest Bluetooth software for your hardware.
6. Controller Battery Level
PS4s aren’t getting any newer. You can still purchase brand new PS4s but the vast majority of the PS4s out there are aging. That means your DualShock controller is probably not as spry as it once was.
The battery may not last as long as it used to and, as it gets older, it may have trouble maintaining connection even while it still has a little juice left in it. Plus, you might be dealing with a charge-only cable.
Ironically, a “charge-only” cable doesn’t always charge a PS4 controller connected to a PC.
Data-sync cables generally charge and channel data back and forth. If you’re using some generic charging cable for your PS4 controller, you need to make sure it’s charging your controller. You’ll know because the controller will slow-pulse a yellow/orange light.
Final Thoughts on PS4 Controller Keeps Disconnecting from PC
For the most part, unless your DualShock is finally keeling over and giving up the ghost, it’s a fairly simple matter to troubleshoot a disconnecting controller. PS4 controllers weren’t originally designed for PC use but, they’re astoundingly versatile and useful on a number of platforms.
Working your way through the above list should get you back on track in no time. If nothing else, there’s always the old mouse and keyboard to fall back on.