The Red Ring of Death: How to Fix Your Xbox 360

Don't worry — your console isn't really dead yet

Black Xbox 360 on its side

Microsoft 

The Xbox 360 may be an older generation console, but it's still got plenty of life in it as a classic gaming machine, a budget streaming box, and as part of family fun. But like any machine, it can break. If your console is flashing red LEDs on the front, instead of starting, here's how to fix it.

What Is The “Red Ring Of Death?”

The red ring of death, also called the RRoD in online slang, is the four LEDs that surround the power button. When the console is operating normally, the upper-left quadrant of the ring will be a solid green. If the console experiences an error, however, one to four of the LEDs will flash red.

This is only seen on the original Xbox 360 console. Current models, the Xbox 360 S and Xbox 360 E, only have one visible LED. For those consoles, you'll instead see the error codes (https://support.xbox.com/en-US/browse/xbox-360/errors) on your television screen.

One Red LED Illuminated

Xbox 360 with one red LED illuminated
 Microsoft

This code stands for “hardware failure,” and is usually accompanied by an error code such as “E-74” on your TV. To resolve it, take the following steps:

  1. Turn off your Xbox 360 completely. All lights should be deactivated and you should hear the fan in the console turn off.
  2. Disconnect all cables and devices from the console. This includes power sources, controllers, USB sticks, and other accessories.
  3. Remove the external hard drive if one is attached. The external hard drive will be a “bump” on the top of the console. Press the release button on the top of the hard drive and it will lift away.
  4. Reconnect the power source and restart the console. Connect controllers and accessories one at a time until either the error is tripped again, telling you there's a problem with that specific accessory, or they're all connected without issue.
  5. Shut down the console and reattach the hard drive. Reboot the console and check the drive. If the error appears, shut down the console again and contact Microsoft support for possible repair or replacement options.

Two Red LEDs Illuminated

Xbox 360 with two red LEDs illuminated
Microsoft

Two red LEDs means your Xbox 360 is overheating.

  1. Shut down the console and clear away any items that are next to it or around it. Check in particular for anything blocking the cooling vents or the fan on the console.
  2. Move your Xbox 360 to another location near your TV where it has open space. If it's on a crowded shelf, for example, remove the items and give it a space to itself.
  3. Let the console cool for at least an hour before rebooting it.

Three Red LEDs Illuminated

Xbox 360 with three red LEDs illuminated
 Microsoft

This is the Red Ring of Death we referred to earlier. Three LEDs are code for “general hardware failure.” However, before you write off your console, you should double-check to ensure this is actually the problem.

  1. Look at the power source. There should be an LED on the “brick” next to the power cable that goes into your gaming device. If that LED is green, the issue is with the console.
  2. If the LED is red or orange, unplug the power source and check the console on a different outlet. You don't need to plug it into a TV; you simply need to ensure that the red LEDs don't light up. If you still have red LEDs with a green light on the power source, then you'll need to have your console repaired or buy a new one.
  3. If your console needs repair, be sure to remove any accessories or external hard drives. This will help you pick up where you left off on a new Xbox 360 if your original console can't be repaired.

Four Red LEDs Illuminated

Xbox 360 with four red LEDs illuminated
 Microsoft

This would appear to be the most ominous of warnings, but it means the cable connecting your Xbox 360 to your television isn't working properly. Shut down your console and unplug the cable completely from both your television and your Xbox. Wait a few minutes, and then reconnect them. If the cable still won't work properly, replacements can easily be found at any store that sells video games or online.

Before you do that, look on the back of your Xbox 360 for an HDMI port. If you have one, and your TV also has an HDMI port, you can use an HDMI cable, available at any store selling electronics. Not all models will have this port, so check first before going to the store.