The PlayStation Portable was famous for its low-level security, which was a good thing for everyone who wanted to hack it. The PSVita shares this blood.

While having a device which isn't good at protecting itself from potential hacks sounds very bad at first glance, in the case of a gaming console it's beyond great. For a console like the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 which focus on way more than just gaming, this would be a disaster, but for a console which is simply bad at anything else than gaming, it's a godsend.

The PlayStation Vita (PSVita for short) can be very easily hacked, even permanently, allowing you to do a tonne of things with it, which Sony doesn't want you to. But what are those things and how do you hack, also known as Custom FirmWare (CFW), a PSVita?

Let's get to it.

Why should I CFW my PSVita?

When people hear about hacking consoles, the thing that usually pops into their mind is piracy. While it's true that CFWed consoles are often used for piracy, this goes for practically everything, including smartphones, TV-boxes, computers and what not. And just like with those devices, unlocking the PSVita has many more benefits than being able to commit a crime.

One thing that you can do with a CFWed PSVita, which you cannot do with a regular one, is to change some aspects of the UI. What I've done was to add a battery percentage text next to my battery icon in order to be able to quickly check the remaining capacity and the other thing I did was to change the awful font to something more modern.

But that's not all. Another thing I did was to download a port of the Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni game series, which aren't available officially on the PSVita, but can be downloaded if your PSVita is CFWed and if you own the games on Steam.

The possibilities are endless and they just grow for every day that goes by, thanks to eager developers.

How to CFW a PSVita running firmware 3.60

Do note that there is no CFW available for firmware newer than 3.60, which means that anything above will not work.

In order to CFW your PSVita, you need to follow a few very simple steps:

  1. Visit the official HENkaku website using the built-in Browser on the PSVita.

  2. Select Install and wait a few seconds.

The browser should quit, a few random screens should show up and then done. You are now semi-CFWed. This means that after a reboot, your system will revert to normal and you'll have to redo the two above steps each reboot. If that's what you wanted, then great. If it's not, and you want a permanent solution, keep reading.

In order to permanently CFW your PSVita, you have to use HENkaku Ensõ.

  1. Go to the official HENkaku Ensõ website on your computer.

  2. Click or tap the image of a box with a download indicator. This should start the download of a VPK file.

  3. Once the file has finished downloading, launch VitaShell on your semi-CFWed PSVita and press Select on the PSVita before you connect the device to your computer.

  4. Now you can connect it.

  5. Move the VPK file to the device by opening the device from your OS file manager, then creating a folder called "TEMP" and moving the VPK file there. The PSVita should be present under the drives section on your computer.

  6. Browse to the file from your PSVita using VitaShell and open it.

  7. Once it finishes installing, you should have a new bubble on your LiveArea which you can open to install Ensõ.

  8. Once installed, you can remove the bubble and reboot your device by going into Settings > HENkaku Settings > Reboot Device.

Your PSVita should now show a different boot screen representing a molecule. This means that the device has been successfully CFWed.

How to CFW a PSVita running firmware older than 3.60

You don't. You update to 3.60 as it's the latest CFWable version, and thanks to a workaround, you can update to it from an older firmware. Note that this does not work for downgrading.

Updating to 3.60 is very easy.

  1. Go to your** Wi-Fi DNS settings** which can be found under Settings > Network > Wi-Fi Settings > Name of the network you're connected to > Advanced Settings > DNS Settings.

  2. Change the DNS Settings to "Manual" from "Automatic".

  3. Select Primary DNS and input the DNS address below:

212.47.229.76

  1. Make sure that the Secondary DNS is set to blank and Proxy Server is set to "Do Not Use".

  2. Go back to the main settings screen and navigate to System Update > Update Using Wi-Fi.

  3. If you get an error saying your system is up to date, that means either your Vita is on 3.60 already or your Vita is newer than 3.60 and is not supported.

If you do not get an error, the message should say ""3.60 (変革 Compatible)"". If it doesn't, then DO NOT UPDATE!!!. Make sure to go back and check if you did everything correctly.

  1. After ensuring that the message does indeed say ""3.60 (変革 Compatible)"", proceed to update by pressing the Update button in the pop-up.

  2. After updating, change your DNS settings back to "Automatic

Conslusion

It's fairly easy and painless to CFW your PSVita. The biggest obstacle one needs to tackle in order to CFW is to find a console with an older firmware, as downgrading is not possible. The possibilities CFWing brings are endless, so if you have a PSVita running the 3.60 firmware or older, there is no reason not to CFW.