The Xbox 360 Disc-read error nightmare

3 min read


Those of you who have an Xbox 360 and have ever been booted out of your game with an accompanying message about Disc Read Errors, put up your hands. Ok, that’s pretty much all of you. Yes, the disc read error is something that’s affected just about everybody who’s played anything on Microsoft’s console. It’;s been blamed on all sorts of things; faulty discs, firmware errors and mostly, faulty disc drives.

Could they, apart from the obvious ones involving scratched discs, all be caused by software errors?

Here’s a letter we received from a reader, pretty much verbatim:

I haven’t put as much time into my Xbox (New slim S model, 14 months old) as I used to, in the last few months it might have stood as long as a few weeks without even being turned on. One day while I was playing BF3 the game started to jump very badly, sometimes freezing for a second then moving on, shortly after this I started getting disc read errors on one or two of my games. The errors started coming up on all my discs, most of which don’t have a single scratch. The errors would range from game discs picking up as mixed media discs or being unrecognized.

After contacting Microsoft and Twitter for a solution everyone came back with the same answer – a faulty disc tray was to blame. I went through a few steps with one of the Microsoft support guys that involved clearing cache and plugging all cables out the unit and leaving it off for a certain amount of time, none of this helped though. Being on a tight budget at the moment I didn’t rush off to pay the R1000 for a refurbished unit or the R500 – R700 from third party repair places.

Then one day I sat and tried every disc that I owned and started picking up a few games here and there that actually played, I realized that all the games the console was playing were games I had never put in my current console and games I played on my old Xbox Pro. I played around a bit, putting a game disc in, getting an error, delete the save file and bam…game suddenly played again. I also tried some games I got from Nick that I had never had in my console including a game I lent to him, all the games I had never played worked, the game I lent to him didn’t work.

Seems that if I format the HD or just play new games from here on out the console will work just fine, wonder if this has perhaps happened to others that they ended up replacing a Disc tray when they didn’t need to.

According to his testimony, his perpetual disc-read errors are apparently the result of some sort of software glitch that broke all his previous saves. The question here is whether it’s a freaky one-off occurrence, or whether perhaps this has happened to others – who’ve happily ponied up the cash to get their drives fixed…for no real reason.

In 2011, one of Microsoft’s dashboard updates caused disc read errors. According to Microsoft, it was caused by "a change in the disc reading algorithms in a recent software update and is not specific to older or newer versions of Xbox 360." It seems to be a fairly significant error – with a quick Google search turning up countless solutions and fixes.

Have you experienced similar perpetual disc read errors – and how have you gone about resolving them?

Last Updated: October 10, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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