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


The Xbox 360 is 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, 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 that surround the Xbox 360's power button. When the console is operating normally, the upper-left quadrant of the ring is solid green. If the console experiences an error, however, 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 they experience a problem, you see an error code ( on your television screen.

What Does One Red LED Illuminated Mean?

Xbox 360 with one red LED illuminated

This code stands for “hardware failure,” and it's 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. It 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 again, shut down the console and contact Microsoft support for possible repair or replacement options.

What Does Two Red LEDs Illuminated Mean?

Xbox 360 with two red LEDs illuminated

Two red LEDs means your Xbox 360 is overheating. 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 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.

What Does Three Red LEDs Illuminated Mean?

Xbox 360 with three red LEDs illuminated

This is the Red Ring of Death we referred to earlier. Three LEDs are code for “general hardware failure.” But, before you write off your console, you should make sure 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 the red LEDs don't light up. If you still have red LEDs with a green light on the power source, then you 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.

What Does Four Red LEDs Illuminated Mean?

Xbox 360 with four red LEDs illuminated

This is 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, then reconnect them. If the cable still won't work properly, replacements can easily be found online or at any store that sells video games and video game accessories.

Before you do that, though, 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 have this port, so check first before going to the store.