Xbox 360: Towel Trick Fixes 3 Red Lights

The “Towel Trick” is an interesting solution to the 3 red lights on the ring of light (ROL). Supposedly, a user experiencing the 3 red lights on the ROL completely wrapped his Xbox 360 in a towel, with the red lights on, and let the Xbox 360 sit for about 10 minutes. He then turned his system off, then on again, and his Xbox 360 booted without issue. He was able to play for about 3 hours before the 3 red lights came back.

Sounds like an unlikely fix, but who knows? Well, I know, because I tested lastnight. The “Towel Trick” is bunk, total crap. You’re more likely to set your Xbox 360 on fire by doing this rather than fixing it. The best advice still is to contact Microsoft support. You can call them toll-free at 1-800-4MY-XBOX. They have an excellent support department lined up there for the Xbox/Xbox 360.

UPDATE: Here’s a video of the Towel Trick on YouTube.

UPDATE 7/14/2011: Rob left some good points in his comment below. A number of people in the comments on this post have suggested putting your Xbox 360 in a microwave to fix the 3 red lights issue. I would advise against this for a number of reasons.

Rob presented a number of things users should consider prior to microwaving any electronic device:

  1. 95% of all hardware failures are caused by very slight board
    warpage right under the G.P.U. where heat build up
    occurs . this will literally cause the Chips connections to pull
    away form the board.
  2. A standered refolw @ 255c will almost always get your console
  3. Specific Microwaves frequency acts on water molecules causing
    them to resonate ( absorb the energy) and then release it as heat
  4. you have a better chance of repairing using a heat gun or
    removing the xclamp and replacing it with screws and then
    force the G.P.U. only to over heat ( standered x clamp mod )
  5. Microwaves will cause metal objects to build up charges
    normally at or on sharp edges until it discharges causing sparks
    kina cool looking , try a Christmas ornaments.
  6. If you decide to stick you game console in your mw oven the ods are not in your
    favor and after the attempt fails your chances of a correct repair
    procedure are lost.
  7. Just use some common sense and realize if this had a high successes rate
    every one would be doing it . in fact people would be modified
    micro wave oven for that purpose only and they would be fixing consoles
    In volumes.

Xbox 360: More On 3 Red Lights

This is sort of a follow-up to my last post regarding the 3 red lights on the ring of light. I called Microsoft’s Xbox support line and was on the phone with a guy named Colin for about an hour. I kept telling him that I would just like to send my console in for repair, but as expected, we had to go through the whole troubleshooting exercise.

First off, a week previous to calling support, I had gotten the 3 red lights every time I turned my Xbox 360 on. Then, once I was speaking with Colin, I turned it on and the red lights were gone. However, the Xbox 360 froze almost immediately. Colin then directed me to remove the hard drive. I removed the drive, powered on and the 360 came up, but only for a few minutes. It soon froze again. That got Colin thinking the root of all my problems was the hard drive. Not quite…

Anyway, Colin had me put the hard drive back on and to my amazement, my Xbox 360 powered up without issue. I proceeded to play Gears of War for a little bit until it froze again. Colin told me to pull the power cord and to let the Xbox 360 sit for about 1 minute. I did so, turned the Xbox 360 back on, and my problems appeared to be gone. At that point, I was playing Gears of War while speaking with Colin, and had been playing with no issues for about 10 minutes. So, instead of sitting on the phone forever Colin and I determined the problem was fixed.

I continued playing Gears of War for around 3 hours after I got off the phone with Colin, until it froze. After 3 hours of play or so, the thing just froze. Since then, I have been getting the 3 red lights on the ring of light non-stop. So, I’m basically back in the same boat I was before I called support.

Luckily, Colin gave me a reference number in case anything went wrong. So, I will be calling support back tomorrow to see if they have any other suggestions. If they don’t, hopefully they’ll suggest that I send my console in for repair.

I just don’t understand why the thing was working while I was on the phone with support but refused to boot pretty much any other time. I know it’s not a power supply issue because my power supply light is green whenever the Xbox 360 is turned on, even if the 3 red lights are flashing. And when the Xbox 360 is turned off, the power supply light is amber, as it should be.

So, I’m kinda at a loss as to what’s going on exactly. It seems that the smallest updates have the ability to bring an Xbox 360 to its knees. Like I said before, my Xbox 360 was working great until an update for Halo 2 was downloaded and applied. It was a small update, took about 2 seconds to download the entire update.

I will post more information as I get it.


Xbox 360: 3 Red Lights on Ring of Light

Since my initial post on the Xbox 360 freeze issues, I’ve managed to render my Xbox 360 unusable, again. Granted, it was crashing and freezing horribly right after I took it out of the box.

I thought I had managed to fix it, but it was only a temporary fix. I manged to get my xbox 360 to function properly by applying a dashboard update. I simply gave my 360 an internet connection and it downloaded and installed an update. Upon reboot all was fine for weeks. That is, until I tried playing Halo 2 for original Xbox.

I popped Halo 2 into my Xbox 360 and was asked to install an update for the game. I let it download and install the update, all seemed fine. When Halo 2 came back up, it froze immediately. So, I powered down my Xbox 360 for about 10 minutes then turned it back on. It sure didn’t get very far booting up at that point. After being on for roughly 3 seconds, I saw the dreaded 3 red lights appear on the ring of light. Not good.

Unfortunately, that’s all the further I’ve been able to get. My power supply isn’t overheating. The light on the power supply is green like it should be when the Xbox 360 is powered up. When the 360 is turned off, the light on the power supply is amber/orange. All normal there.

I have emailed Microsoft support, but haven’t received a reply yet. I will call them tomorrow if I don’t hear anything back by morning. I’ve tried everything they mention in their support and troubleshooting documents, to no avail. I fear they won’t be able to help me via phone/email. I’ll most likely end up having to send my Xbox 360 in to Microsoft for repair.

Microsoft has definitely taken notice of all the problems. They’ve increased the factory warranty on the Xbox 360 from 90 days to a full year. I received the notification email the day before Ashley and I left for vacation, a good note to leave for vacation on at least. Jason has a little snippet from the email for those who are interested. You can also check out the Xbox 360 FAQ, which covers the warranty pretty extensively.

If Microsoft is able to offer me any solutions other than sending my Xbox 360 in for repair, I will relay the solution here. I’m not holding my breath though.


Xbox 360 Freezing? Let Your Power Supply Breathe!

I had tons of problems with my Xbox 360 after I got it setup. First I had three red lights on the Ring of Light. After getting that fixed, my screen would freeze before the Xbox 360 dashboard would fully load. Eventually I got into Need For Speed: Carbon, but the Xbox 360 would freeze after a minute or less of gameplay. I also witnessed the E71 error message a couple times, fun fun. Microsoft has a page dedicated to freeze issues, although it didn’t prove to be much help in my situation. There are some good troubleshooting tips in there though.

Eventually, I was able to get my Xbox 360 to download an update from Microsoft. After the update was downloaded and applied, I had a totally stable Xbox 360. Downloading the update didn’t seem to work for everyone though. This guy claims his Xbox 360 started freezing after he downloaded the update.

I neglected to discuss the most popular method for fixing Xbox 360 freeze issues. There’s a very simple solution to prevent your xbox power supply from overheating. All you have to do is ensure your Xbox 360 power supply has proper ventilation. Don’t tuck it away back in a corner under a pile of dirty clothes or anything. Keep it out in the open, and let it see as much air as possible. Some people have turned to setting their Xbox 360 power supplies on top of an open box, that way there’s very little surface area touching anything. Setting the power supply on top of an open box will allow better air movement and will ensure air is able to move under the power supply, an area air wouldn’t normally reach if your power supply is just sitting on the ground. There’s some pictures of this method at the GameSpot forums, along with some other Xbox 360 Fixes. Unlimited Gamer has some more information on this method also. Blogcritics has a pretty good post covering a couple different solutions to fixing your Xbox 360 freeze problems.

One of the methods mentioned at the GameSpot forums that you should have your Xbox 360 plugged directly into a wall, not into a power strip or anything. Even if it is in the wall already, it might help to unplug your power supply from the wall for a few seconds and then plug it back in.


Fix Your Xbox 360 Freeze Problems

P1010029Last Friday, I bought an Xbox 360 at my local K-Mart. It was probably a mistake getting it from K-Mart, but I sort of decided to buy it on the spot, didn’t really put much thought into it. After getting my Xbox 360 out of it’s box and all hooked up, I started wishing I had made the purchase directly from Microsoft instead. All is fine and well now, but I had nothing but problems for a few hours after setting the Xbox 360 up.

Right off the bat, I had three red lights on the Ring of Light. Not good. I followed the steps Microsoft suggests, after unplugging and re-plugging everything to the power supply, I finally got a green light and the Xbox 360 booted.

At this point, I did the initial configuration on the Xbox 360. I setup my profile and just started playing Need For Speed: Carbon. That didn’t last long though, the 360 started freezing up every minute or two. I kept rebooting it, hoping for a better result, but nothing.

P1010027After a few reboots, and barely getting a profile created in Need For Speed, I was presented with the error seen to the left. Click the image to make it bigger, sorry for the shitty picture. My heart really sunk at that point, the description of the E71 error message is rather disappointing: “E71: possibly a dashboard update error, there is no solution at present the console must be sent back to MS for repair.” There’s a nice post over at the xbox-scene forums that covers error codes and what to do about them. After finding the meaning of the E71 error message, I set out getting my Xbox 360 on my network. I was hoping a network connection would force the 360 to check for a dashboard update or something…anything.

Getting my Xbox 360 online wasn’t a problem, the hardest part was finding an ethernet cable long enough to go from my switch in the office to the living room. Once I had the network cable in the Xbox 360, I turned it on and it immediately said there was an update to download from Microsoft. It must have grabbed an IP really quickly from my DHCP server and checked for updates. Had I not had a DHCP server running, I may not have gotten the update. I don’t think I could have gotten into the dashboard to manually configure tcp/ip settings for the 360. It would have frozen up and that would have been it.

Anyway, the update downloaded and was installed, and my Xbox 360 was rebooted. After that, the 360 finally came up and my freeze problems were gone. So, if you’re having all sorts of flaky issues with your Xbox 360, try getting it on a network with an internet connection and see if it’ll download a dashboard update. I haven’t had any problems with stability since the initial update was downloaded, thank god! I really didn’t want to have to send my brand new Xbox 360 into Microsoft for servicing the day of purchasing it.

If you are experiencing problems like I was and this fix works for you, please let me know. This has probably been written about elsewhere, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it.