I purchased my glossy black partner on January 30, 2007. Since then it has run over 50 PS3 games, a bunch of PS2 and PS1 games, and probably hundreds of Blu-ray and DVD movies But I had to bid farewell to my dear friend; my PS3 displayed the dreaded Yellow Light of Death, better known as YLOD.
Much like the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death, the YLOD is basically an indicator that your console is kaput. It supposedly indicates an overheating problem with the system, but can happen at almost any time. Some have speculated that it's an intentional defect, as it has a tendency to occur after the Sony warranty has expired. My original 60GB pal gave up the ghost after nearly six years of extensive use.
When you think about the amount of time that went into all the save data that was lost, needless to say, it was a bit of a shock. I had backed up a good chunk of data on the off chance that such an event would happen, but that was last year and all the data that had been saved in between was now inaccessible.
It happened in the middle of gameplay. On a whim, I was doing a run through Way of the Samurai 3. I walked up to a character to start an event and the screen went black. Instead of the event starting as it should have, the screen remained black and my PS3 let out a few high pitched beeps and shut off, the power lamp softly blinking red over and over. Confused, I tried turning it back on, but the console only let out a few more beeps and then nothing. I turned the rear switch off and on and tried again, but the power lamp would turn green, flicker yellow and then blink red and become unresponsive. (Insert The Price is Right failure sound here)
I considered removing the hard disk and trying to get the data out by using it as an external drive, but I was neither tech savvy enough, nor did I have the necessary hardware/software to pull off what essentially is a bank heist into a vault guarded by Sony. Sending the console to Sony for repairs wasn't really an option because 1: With the warranty long expired, I would probably end up paying enough to buy a new PS3 altogether, and 2: A little research on the issue told me that even if I did get the console repaired, all the data would be wiped and could not be recovered. Borrowing a friend's PS3 and trying to extract the save data that way was also out of the question because inserting a new hard drive into a PS3 prompts the console to reformat and wipe the drive clean.
A further search of the interwebs brought me to a potential solution involving a hairdryer. Apparently, there is a flaw with either the solder or some other conductive adhesive used in a certain part of the console's motherboard. Over time, this adhesive comes apart, causing the system to fail. By heating the console with a hair dryer, you can reconnect the circuit through thermal expansion (Kind of ironic, considering the error is supposed to indicate an overheating problem…). This method of revival isn't guaranteed to work and even if it does, it's basically putting a terminal patient on life support; you're only delaying the inevitable. With nothing to lose, I gave it a shot and miraculously, my PS3 booted up with no errors. I quickly copied all the data I could to an external drive (except for the save games that can only be backed up via the PlayStation Plus service… Goddammit, Sony.) to transfer to a new PS3.
I have a new PS3 sitting on my shelf now. It sits next to my PS2, my Sega Dreamcast, and my Sega Saturn (all of which are older than 6 years and still work like a charm, I might add). It's one of the latest, lighter models. It may not be able to run PS2 games, it may not have multiple data card slots, it may only have 2 USB ports, it may not be able to eject a disc automatically, but inside, it contains all the data my old PS3 was able to bequeath and it's still a proud new member of my gaming family.
My old PS3 now lies under my bed. I still haven't decided what to do with it. Sentimentality keeps me from tossing it out. Perhaps I'll bury it in the yard or see it off with a funeral pyre. For now, it no longer boots properly and is currently contemplating a new career as an 11 pound paperweight… Goodbye dear friend.