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

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

The Xbox 360 is an older generation console. However, it still has 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 flashes red LEDs on the front, here's how to fix it.

This guide specifically refers to the original Xbox 360 model.

What Is the Red Ring of Death?

The red ring of death, also called RRoD in online slang, stands for the four LEDs surrounding the Xbox 360 power button. When the console operates normally, the upper-left quadrant of the ring is solid green. If the console experiences an error, one to four of the LEDs flash red.

You only see the RRoD on the original Xbox 360 console. Other models, like the Xbox 360 S and Xbox 360 E, only have one visible LED. When these models experience a problem, you see an error code on your television screen.

What Does One Red LED Illuminated Mean?

This code indicates a hardware failure and is usually accompanied by an error code such as E-74 on the TV.

Xbox 360 with one red LED illuminated
Microsoft

To resolve it, take the following steps:

  1. Turn off the 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 is 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, indicating a problem with that specific accessory, or the controllers and accessories connect without issue.

  5. Shut down the console and reattach the hard drive. Reboot the console and check the drive. If the error appears again, shut down the console and contact Microsoft support for possible repair or replacement options.

What Does Two Red LEDs Illuminated Mean?

Two red LEDs means the Xbox 360 is overheating.

Xbox 360 with two red LEDs illuminated
Microsoft

If this happens, do the following:

  1. Shut down the console and clear away any items that are next to it or around it. Check, in particular, for anything that blocks the cooling vents or the fan on the console.

  2. Move the Xbox 360 to another location near the 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.

What Does Three Red LEDs Illuminated Mean?

This is the Red Ring of Death referred to earlier. Three LEDs are the code for a general hardware failure.

Xbox 360 with three red LEDs illuminated
Microsoft

Before you write off your console, make sure this is the problem.

  1. Look at the power source. There should be an LED on the brick next to the power cable that goes into the 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. Instead, ensure the red LEDs don't light up. If you still see red LEDs with a green light on the power source, have the console repaired or buy a new one.

  3. If the console needs repair, remove any accessories or external hard drives. This helps you pick up where you left off on a new Xbox 360 if your original console can't be repaired.

What Does Four Red LEDs Illuminated Mean?

This means the cable connecting the Xbox 360 to the television isn't working properly. Shut down the console and unplug the cable completely from both the television and Xbox. Wait a few minutes, and reconnect the two devices. If the cable still doesn't work properly, replacements can be found online or at any store that sells video games and video game accessories.

Xbox 360 with four red LEDs illuminated
Microsoft

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