The Day I Said Goodbye To My PS3

The Day I Said Goodbye To My PS3

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.



  • YLOD is almost just as widespread as RROD, yet we rarely hear about it. Typical.

    I feared my 60GB would get YLOD so it got packed away back in 09 and replaced with an 80GB Killzone 2 bundle. Which has since been sold and I own the 320GB Silver Slim and a 120GB Slim (as a Blu-ray player).

    Really want to use my 60GB again, but I’m terrified it will die.

    • You don’t hear about RROD or YLOD much these days because both machines have greatly improved their manufacture so it’s less of a problem.

      But the reason the RROD was highly publicised at the beginning of the console’s lifespan was because the first iteration of the 360 was rushed to market without enough (or large enough) heat sinks, so the failure rate was unacceptably high.

    • You rarely hear about it because it isn’t just as widespread as RROD. At its highest the 360’s failure rate was 32% while the PS3’s was 16%.

      Both of those are quite high though. Personally I didn’t play my PS3 long enough to see it fail but my first 360 failed in 2 months.

      As I see it both consoles slim redesigns seem to have dealt with any major design faults and this is all largely irrelevant now anyway.

    • I have heard that YLOD is actually more common than RROD. Mine suffers from YLOD. But which of the two manufacturers was the one to apologise and offer free replacement consoles?

      • Actually… The origional Xbox was prone to more than 50% while the new one is down to a mear 15% and the PS3 has allways been round about 10% That 10% is total system failures including BD-rom and hdd problems, the actual amount of Ylod is more around 1%

    • It is nowhere near as common comparative to age, most xboxes RROD in as little as 2 years of age with a good proportion under 12 months. Most YLOD problems occur 4 years into their life which these days is considered a long life for consumer electronics.

      My PS3 60gb still kicking along nicely with only a replaced blu-ray drive in its healthy almost 6 year life span.

    • In the last six years I’ve had four RROD and zero YLOD – from my perspective, RROD is quite literally, infinitely more common.

    • First statement is completely false.

      It might be worthwhile opening the system, cleaning it with pressurised air and reapplying the thermal paste. If it is an overheating issue, that might solve it?

      • If you are referring to the comment mentioning overheating it is entirely true. The console generated excessive heat to the point where the main board would flex breaking the solder connections.

        That is why solutions such as putting it in the oven or wrapping it in a towel could temporarily get it running again. The heat re-flowed the broken solder connections.

        Also opening the system would have voided your warranty and you would be screwed after it did RROD.

        • With the slim units, there is a sticker over one of the screws. A hair-dryer can get that off in a matter of seconds. I assume the same kind of sophisticated security is probably on the older models.

    • I’m actually going to do that right now. I have never backed up at all yet so I’m quite scared now that it can happy at any time.

      • Do it. My 2007 vintage PS3 died in 2010 (power supply failure rather than an overheating issue). I discovered too late that you can’t just pull the HDD out of your old console and plug it into the new one – they’re encrypted and the first thing the new console does when you plug the drive in is format it. So yeah, I lost everything 🙁 Ever since then I take a backup once a week to an external USB HDD and have also taken up a PS+ subscription which gives me the cloud backup too.

        • One good thing with RROD is your HDD can just be thrown into the new console and bam, everything is running fine. Mind you I’m still using my original old school 20gb pro 360 (upgraded with a 250gb hdd) which has going strong for 5+ years now.

  • I have fixed a few YLOD PS3’s, fairly easy to do (especially with respect to getting it running to recover save game data). In any event, I hope they learn from their mistakes and make the next gen consoles a bit more bullet (ie. heat) proof.

  • Tried to do the general backup once but it wouldn’t let me…possibly because I was using an 80gb HDD to backup a 120gb console…?

    Ended up manually doing it game by game, fun >..

  • My 80gb PS3 phat is still chugging along there nicely, it doesnt like to stood up vertically.

    I hope it doesnt die between now and when GTA V comes out.

    • This reminds me of my PS1 days, when we started having to turn the PS1 upside down for it to play read the discs.

  • “(except for the save games that can only be backed up via the PlayStation Plus service… Goddammit, Sony.)”

    Saved game data that can’t be copied to USB is NOT Sony’s fault, it is the choice of the publisher. Sony’s PS+ service is the only way to get around this, and even then with those selected games, you have to wait 24hrs from uploading to be able to download. Again, not Sony’s fault, publishers decision.

    Fact checking, a basic part of every journalists role.

  • Still rocking my 40GB launch model. It’s lasted two house moves and more hours of gaming than I’d want to count – pretty sure it’s going to keep going right through til the PS5 launch

  • Wow… same for me.
    For the last 2years, my ‘fat’ 40gb has been in it’s original box in my wardrobe.
    YLOD and all.
    Can’t bring myself to toss it…

  • Had my 40 gig get the YLOD a few years ago. Happened when I was watching a TV show on it and it just decided to shut down and not come back on.

    Replaced it with a 120 gig slim PS3 which I got with a new TV and still ticking along (knock on wood).

  • best tip I heard to save your 60g is always lay it flat with lots of room around it. The theory is that if it get hot the chips won’t slide down the motherboard. There’s lots of places to fix a ylod usually around $100.

    • Damn. I always keep mine vertical, because I figured hot air rises, and the vent’s are on the side, so by keeping it vertical, it gives the hot air a place to go?

      Still ticking over nicely, had it for about 5 years i think. Only problem I’ve had was the drive screwing up. Opened her up and found my son had stuck a leaf in there. Cleared it out and *touch wood* she’s been good ever since.

      But I live in fear this will happen to me too. Then I’ll have to buy a blu-ray player. No way woudl I buy another sony product. I’ll just kiss all my downloaded games goodbye.

  • After loosing my old fat to YLOD, and a bunch of game saves along with it, I subscribed to PS plus so all my game saves would be backed up nightly.

  • I had a launch XBox 360 which got RROD in about 2010. I also had a PS3 but barely ever played it so probably never gave it a chance to get YLOD 😛

    My mate has had two PS3s get YLOD but he plays PS3 a lot but he kept them and learned how to fix them so they are working once again.

  • The exact same happened to my launch day “Fat Boy” PS3 recently, was gutted mainly because of the backwards compatibility. Cant play all my fav PS2/PS1 games anymore, without re-purchasing them on PSN if there available.

  • When my PS3 finally dies I’ll replace it with a cheap blu-ray player as that’s the only function it has served for well over 2 years.

  • If you run a heat gun over the motherboard solder or turn it in somewhere to have this done a little more professionally / with proper equipment, you should be able to get it working -temporarily-. That way you can boost all of your saves or make a new backup before you send it packing. It’s what I did.

    • Oops, that’ll teach me to finish reading the article before I get too excited with a reply. :-/
      Good that you got your data back though. 🙂

  • I would be the exception to the rule – launch PS3 which died 2 years ago and appears to be unsalvagable while an Xbox360 bought the week before is still going strong (and gets more use consistently).
    Have 2 friends with fat PS3 s that have died but I am the only person with a 360 not to have at least one die – last counts was more than 20 people with dead 360s.
    Having said that – Sony come up with a way to retrieve our data from a dead PS3 ASAP!

  • My 80gb PS3 fat didn’t last very long, maybe 2 yrs, then I got YLOD. Surprisingly everything was fine until I updated Gran Turismo . Now all it does is crash every time it sees Captain Price’s face on MW3. I still use it to watch Blu-rays in my bedroom, because that’s all it does now.

  • My second generation PS3 has been kicking since 2008, I always make sure to keep it laying flat with plenty of ventilation in hope of prolonging its life.
    I am fairly handy with a soldering iron though, so if the solder points break up like the article suggests, hopefully it would be as easy as just touching up the points with fresh solder.

  • My phat 40gb console YLOD a few years back. And did it half a dozen times after I did the “reflow” fix. Finally I got sick of fixing it, and installed a small circuit patched between the PSU and fan, hooked up to a small potentiometer, which I cut a small hole for. Manual fan control.
    That PS3 has been running for 2 years now without issue. Easy fix.

  • Congratulations for getting your data off of the console.
    Now I have had some personal experience in fixing both RROD and YLOD and from what my experience has told me is that dust and a poor design is a major contributor that affects the consoles, Xbox being the most common that I come across.
    Now unfortunately taking the heat gun to the console is the generic fix, and if not careful can damage other components on the motherboard.
    The reason as to why it is only a temporary fix is that the reflow is still using the original solder, which in electronics is something to avoid, and is why it becomes expensive to get someone to fix it properly as they have to remove chips to clean and replace the soldered connections to apply a stronger bond to the motherboard, but this takes time and the proper equipment to do properly. This is called reballing for those who are curious.
    So for anyone that wishes to try this themselves I recommend that whilst you are taking the console apart to spend a bit of time to get rid of as much dust whilst their at it.

  • The hairdryer fix is a workaround, it doesn’t really fix it. First time it’ll probably last a month, second time a week to a fortnight, after that lucky to last a couple of days.

    What is is perfect for however is getting your device back on to copy your save files off. Downside? You have to have Playstation Plus to copy the copy protected saves over the internet.

  • I experienced the dreaded YLOD on my first gen 60GB console six months ago, and found it to be more a YLOTD – Yellow Light of Temporary Death. Having read all these dodgy work-arounds, I happened upon a Gumtree ad for a local guy offering all sorts of electronics repairs. Three days later it was fixed, and hasn’t had a problem since. While acknowledging that there was a chance of the soldering breaking again, he said that it was simply a matter of doing the same simple operation. He offers a 6-month guarantee on any repairs he does, and the charge was a mere $70 anyway (compared to $500+ for a replacement backwards compatible model). He also said that the best thing you can do in this situation is DO NOT TOUCH IT before getting someone who knows what they’re doing to have a look at it. He’s seen far too many consoles irreparably broken by hairdryers and other jury-rigged fixes.

  • I love how people think they have to stand up for their consoles.

    I’m a little confused as to why people are about all this shit any more. Has a new generation that missed the consoles wars sprung up or something?

  • You could also just go and buy a reflow gun, its what they are designed to do. Like that awesome one lady adafruit has, (they fetch a pretty penny though) can get similar ones about as cheap as $150 aud.

  • My slim model PS3 hasn’t had any issues, but I got it back in Christmas of 2010, plus it has plenty of room for optimal airflow.

    Is it just me or does today’s generation of consoles, or more broadly, any technology, seem to last less (lower MTBF rates)? The fat model PS2 I got back in 2001 still works to this day. The last time I used it was in 2009, and I discovered it under the TV cabinet earlier this year, then opened it up and gave it a good clean. It still boots up into the system configuration fine. I haven’t tested a game on it yet but it should work still. I also had a PS1, that I had working too, but then my Dad threw it out in 2008, presumably because it wasn’t being used any more.

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