Signs Your Xbox is Dying

Few things scare gamers more than an Xbox that constantly freezes, overheats, or simply won’t turn on. Are any of these things mostly meaningless, or are they signs your Xbox is dying? Read on and find out whether your Xbox is on its last legs.

1. Constant Freezing / Locking Up

An occasional freeze while playing a game is expected, and even normal, especially if you play the Xbox for long periods of time. But if your Xbox locks up every time you play a game, it’s a sign of bigger problems.

If this is only happening with one disc, it might just be the game’s fault. Hold the disc under a bright light and look for scratches. Large, deep scratches and gouges are the worst offenders, but even tiny scrapes can destroy a disc.

If the disc isn’t the culprit, try various other games and movies. If the Xbox plays old games fine but struggles with new ones, the console might be having a hard time with them. It takes lots of processing power to handle the improved graphics of today’s games, and some systems can’t keep up. This happens often with older consoles, especially the first-generation Xbox 360.

If freezing occurs on all types of games, the console might be overheating. Put the Xbox in a well-ventilated area and power it off regularly to prevent this. If the fan is broken or the processor is going bad, there’s not much you can do to stop overheating, though.

2. Hanging on Start-up Screen

Sometimes, your Xbox will refuse to load any game at all. You might be able to start the console, sign in to Xbox Live, and even download content from the marketplace. But the second you try to play a game, the Xbox freezes and won’t openrespond. You may see the message “Reading” on the home screen while the console tries to load the game, but when that fails, “Play Game” or “Open Tray” displays instead. Not even pressing the “Guide” button on the controller will have any effect. Ejecting the game manually, via the “Eject” button on the console itself, may cause the console to respond.

This problem often happens shortly before an Xbox dies. It might be a sign of a dying laser, especially if you see “Open Tray” often, which indicates that the Xbox cannot read the game. If you notice this occurring and your Xbox is still in warranty, consider having Microsoft take a look at it before the console dies completely.

3. Unresponsive Controller

This typically goes hand-in-hand with your games freezing, but sometimes, the controller will disconnect for no reason. This could happen because the batteries died, or even because the sync between the controller and console got disrupted. If it happens a lot even if the batteries are good, something is probably amiss.

When this occurs, you’ll probably notice that the green lights on the “Guide” button are flashing rapidly. You can fix this, temporarily at least, by simply removing and reinserting the batteries. But if it keeps happening, get a new controller or have the Xbox looked at.

4. Error 71 or 74 Message

If the Xbox stops responding, and you see an “Error 71” or “Error 74” message on the screen, something is definitely wrong. This message means “general hardware error,” and it’s pretty much a sign that your Xbox is dead or is going to be dead very soon. You may also see strange artifacts on the screen, such as white or colored dots. On an older Xbox, the light in the bottom-right corner of the Power button may glow red. When this happens, don’t wait–get the Xbox looked at immediately.

5. Red Ring of Death

This aptly named issue is an Xbox 360 owner’s worst nightmare. When the red ring strikes, you’ll see the bottom two and top-left “Power” button lights glow red. Usually, no error code will display, so it’s not easy to figure out what’s gone redwrong. Microsoft has known about this problem for years, and it’s basically a defect with the console. They were also repairing consoles made during a certain time period for free, even if they were out of warranty, because the problem was so prevalent. If this happens to your Xbox, it’s worth a shot to call Microsoft and plead for a free repair.

This problem’s not limited to older Xbox 360s, either. It also happens to slim consoles, where it’s called the “red dot of death.” With this issue, the light in the center of the “Power” button glows solid red. The console might also warn you that it’s shutting itself down to prevent overheating.

If your Xbox is out of warranty and Microsoft refuses to repair for free, you can pay them a fee to do it, which is usually between $80 and $100. The price depends on which console model you have, and it’s typically the same no matter what’s gone wrong with your console. If you refuse to cough up that much money to fix an aging console, you could try taking it to a local repair shop.

The cheapest option is to attempt to fix the Xbox yourself. You can do this with the help of an online guide, even if you’re not technically inclined. Most guides have lots of helpful pictures to ease you through the process. You can find a guide for many Xbox problems, including a Red Ring fix, hard drive repair, laser replacement, and others. The cost of any guide will be much cheaper than what Microsoft asks of you, so it’s worth it for cash-strapped gamers.

To read more about Microsoft’s warranty service for Xbox 360, click here.

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