Posted by: kurtsh | September 23, 2006

INFO: The Dread Xbox360 “3 Red LEDs” in the Ring of Light

If you own a Xbox360, you’ve probably at least heard something about "3 Red LEDs" appearing the the ring of light – the lights that shine around the power button.

I have probably 4 or 5 dozen Enterprise customers that own XBox360’s now.  I’ve encounter this incident happening to 2 people now and suffice it to say that I’ve done a lot internal research on the topic.

"3 Red LEDs" means that the Xbox360 has encountered an system error – no big surprise there, ‘eh?    Without getting into details, this indicator is very generic:  It could mean any number of things.  A hardware problem… a software problem… a specific component… more than several hundred different conditions.    I think it’s the equivalent of a Windows "blue screen of death" to some degree – except that you don’t get a 0x235A456B error code on your screen.

This morning we had a surge of sorts – I think they call them "brown outs".  It was silent and frankly I wouldn’t have even noticed had it not been for the fact that my big screen TV’s picture "disappeared" and showed nothing but "blackness" in the middle of the Michigan vs Wisconsin NCAA Football game. 

This TV was an EXTREMELY expensive buy for me and even with the discounts I’d procured through a customer-relationship I once had, the thing still cost more than anything I’ve seen recently in your local Costco or BestBuy, so needless to say, I was petrified for a moment.  I don’t have it on any warranty (it expired) so I was frantically looking around for the controller to see what would happen if I switched the component input to my Xbox360.  Then I noticed it.

My Xbox360 has "3 Red LEDs".  The same ones that I’d heard of before.  AIGH!

Now the "book" (i.e. our support site) says that I should try the following procedures:

  • Turn off the console, unplug everything, reconnect everything, and turn the console back on.
  • Turn off the console, remove the hard drive, and turn the console back on again.
  • If all else fails, visit for information on how to contact Xbox360 Support.  (1-800-4MY-XBOX or 425-635-7180, 6AM-10PM PST)

So guess what?  I did exactly what was described in step 1.  I turned everything off… disconnected everything, and turned it all back on. 

BAM!  The sucker turned on… controllers connected… XboxLive autologged in… BRIGHT GREEN, baby! (Oh by the way, the TV worked too)  It looks like that during a brown out, there’s a chance that your system will freak temporarily, however if you have a good surge protector (not a UPS mind you – a SURGE PROTECTOR… more on that in a second) the disruption in power won’t damage your XBox360, but rather just make it go "red" for a little bit.  I was fortunate to have a TrippLite Surge Protector protecting my whole multimedia system.  (This isn’t a plug for Tripplite… it’s just what I had.)  The surge protector clearly helped protect my TV & my XBox360.

So what’s this about UPSs?  I’ve HEARD that UPS’s are not recommended for use with Xbox360s.  Don’t ask me why.  This is just what I heard.  Even though the whole mission of a UPS’s life is to provide consistent filtered power to a device, I’ve heard that they’re not recommended for some reason.

So the moral of the story is, just because you have the "3 Red LEDs" doesn’t mean you’re hosed.  It might just mean a temporary condition so follow the instructions in the support article, and you may come out clean.


%d bloggers like this: