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Back in July of 2021, the PSP store officially closed, relegating the PSP to anonymity on the Playstation online marketplace. However, the death of store access has done little to make the PSP an undesirable device. It’s still a fantastic portable console. But, with age, comes issues, one of which is a loud UMD drive.
One of the most common problems with PSPs, especially the older they get, is the screeching noise they tend to make when reading the UMD disc within. The loudness factor depends on the game, but can usually be fixed by playing off the memory stick, along with some other alternatives.
UMDs never quite took off the way Sony originally intended, though they fared better than some of Sony’s other legacy products (Beta Max) and worse than some as well (Blu-Ray). While there are some preventative maintenance measures worth taking, there’s no way to completely silence them.
Table of Contents
3 Causes And Fixes To Loud PSP
1. Don’t Allow UMDs to Get Compressed
While this sounds simple enough in theory, it’s a lot harder in practice. The entire point of the PSP and its associated UMDs is portability. That means carrying them around, wherever you go, most likely stashed away in a carrying case or some kind of bag.
The thing is, unless it’s a hard carrying case that resists being smooshed, The plastic casing that surrounds the drive is likely to get compressed—pressed into the underlying disc like a sandwich.
Eventually, this compression becomes permanent, with the plastic casing slightly resting against the disc inside. When you pop the disc in the PSP and the game begins winding up, the disc is spinning against the plastic.
This creates a loud (often disturbingly loud) grinding noise that sometimes sounds as if the PSP is dying.
While there’s not much you can do to adjust the plastic once it’s been compressed into permanence, you can reduce the amount of spinning. This method doesn’t work on the original “fat” PSP models, since they lack the correct setting.
- Turn on the PSP
- Scroll sideways to the XMB menu
- Go down until you find System Settings
- Scroll down to UMD Cache
- Turn UMD Cache On
This will allow the PSP to temporarily store data as you play the game, reducing the need to work the disc nearly as much.
2. Use the Memory Stick
If you want to avoid using the UMDs completely, you can instead use a Memory Stick Pro Duo. One of the more annoying things Sony likes to do (they repeated this with the PS Vitas) is manufacture their own memory sticks, making standard microSD cards absolutely useless for the PSP and, later down the road, the Vita.
You can only purchase Sony’s memory stick and they’re typically quite a bit more expensive than a standard microSD card. The good news is the Amazon Marketplace and online stores like eBay still sell these proprietary SD cards.
Even better, these memory cards offer quite a bit of storage, as high as 128 GB, which is far more than anything you should ever need on a PSP.
The only drawback is that the online store is now closed and the only way to access the kinds of games you want for the PSP is to use third-party emulators, requiring you to jailbreak your PSP.
3. Oil the Laser Rail
This requires a bit of disassembly knowledge and probably some YouTube videos, especially if you’ve never done anything quite like it before. The laser rail is the part that moves back and forth, adjusting the laser as it reads the spinning UMD.
You’ll need a few things to get started.
- 3-in-1 Multi-Purpose Lubricating Oil
- White Lithium Grease
- Tiny Philips Head screwdriver
- Tiny star screwdriver
You’ll need to disassemble the PSP from the back, working your way into the area where the UMD discs rest when you’re playing games. If you watch a few videos on the process, it’s a little bit easier than it looks. Just don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by exposed circuit boards and removing the plastic faceplates on the PSP.
While you’re at it, you should also oil and lubricate the spinning motor (the part that spins the disc really fast). It’s often a major source of noise, especially when it gets old and a shade rusty over years of use.
Once you have all of the parts removed, you can apply the oil directly, so long as it’s not excessive. That will end up causing more problems than you’re trying to solve.
What you will do is soak the Q-tip ends in the oil and lightly apply the oil to the laser arm.
You can use the white lithium grease and the lubricating oil interchangeably or you can use one rather than the other. Just be careful not to overdo it to the point where the lubrication excess is running down and getting all over the other components in the system.
Feel free to spin the motor and move the arm around until the oil or grease penetrates fully. Use an absorbent rag to absorb any excess and reassemble the PSP in reverse order.
Those are the three ways you can quiet down the UMD drive and ensure the longevity of the PSP. When you think about it, the last is an act of preventative maintenance every bit as much as it reduces the noise of the UMD.
The first is preventative as well. If you don’t want to use memory sticks and deal with emulators online, it’s best to take care of your UMD discs and avoid allowing them to be compressed in your baggage or case.