The 5 stages of PS3 YLOD grief

Sections: Consoles, Developers, Exclusives, Features, Game-Companies, Nostalgia, PS3, Publishers

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80gb 4usb ps3
My PS3 YLOD-ed on me. It died. It’s dead. There’s no reason for it. I mean yes, I bought it used from GameStop at least three years ago. And true, it is one of the 80GB, backwards compatible models that has the lead-free solder that causes the PS3 YLOD condition.

Oh, I’m sorry. I’m getting all technical on you. PS3 YLOD refers to the Yellow Light of Death. Think of it as the Sony equivalent of the Xbox 360’s Red Ring of Death. It’s what happens when the lead-free solder used to integrate the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and PCB (motherboard) develops micro-cracks in it from ordinary, everyday use. Lead-free solder is better for the environment, but means your system is probably going to eventually die.

Anyways, mine got it. Last night, at 10:00pm CST exactly, my PS3 YLOD-ed. I then spent the next two hours going through the five stages of grief, and would like to share my experience with you.


At about 9:50pm, I decided to do my weekly PlayStation Plus game claiming. I needed to download The Cave, as well as Hakuoki: Warriors of the Shinsengumi for my PSP. Since my system always downloads faster if I choose to have it download, then shutdown automatically, I chose that option, turned off my TV and went to go do something else.

Then it died.

An alarm beeped and when I looked at the PS3, a red light was flashing. “That’s odd.” I thought to myself. “The Cave and Hakuoki shouldn’t be done downloading that quickly.” My router is getting old and has a habit of cutting off my PS3, 3DS, Vita and Wii U, so I figured that must be the problem. I unplugged the router, plugged it back in, then came back to the PS3. I held my finger over the power button. It stopped flashing red. I tapped it to turn it on again. It turned green, the fan tried to start up, it briefly turned yellow, and then it started flashing red and beeping. Again.

This can’t be the PS3 YLOD. It can’t. Even though my friends on Twitter were saying that was what it was, it couldn’t be it. I’ve had my PS3 for three years and it’s worked perfectly! It was the 80GB backwards compatible model that was supposed to possibly be a little more reliable than the first models.

Besides, it wasn’t even on for fifteen minutes. Maybe if I unplug it for five minutes, then plug it back in, it’ll work again. It just needs five minutes to itself.


Typically, Anger comes second in the stages of grief. When the PS3 YLOD hits, bargaining comes second. Especially when said PS3’s owner is stupid enough to have not backed up her saves to the cloud in at least two months. Maybe three. Meaning all of her Ni no Kuni, Mass Effect 3 Citadel and Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory progress are now gone. Oh man, I’ve probably lost even more progress than that. I need to sit down.

But it’s okay. God’s got my back. If I do some heavy duty praying right now, let the PS3 have another 10 minutes to itself, it will be okay. I just need to take some deep breaths, have faith and it’ll come back. It doesn’t even have to come back for good. It just has to turn on long enough for me to either copy those three, most important files to my flash drive or back-up those three saves to the cloud.

I just need five more minutes of PS3 time, God. Please come through for me!

PS3 YLOD Anger

There was swearing. Less so on Twitter, more so in real life at my new PS3 Brick™. This included a tirade in which I ranted both in instant messages and over the phone to people I knew wouldn’t have the heart to hang up on me or brush me off. My favorite segment included references to my still working, original NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, PS2, second-garage-sale PS2, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Neo Geo Pocket Color, GBA, GBA SP, Wii and, as icing on the cake, original Intellivision. All of those work perfectly despite their age, even the ones I bought used, which makes this situation with the PS3 even more frustrating.

Admittedly, I’m still in this phase. I’m really, very, incredibly mad that a current generation system isn’t made well enough to outlive a system made in the 1980’s. Moreover, what kind of company would make a system where you can’t just pop a hard drive out of a dead PS3, jam it into a working one and backup everything you own? It makes no sense! At least let me be able to eject my hard drive, stick it in my friend’s working PS3 and then backup my saves that way!

PS3 YLOD Depression

I went to bed around 1:30am. I went to sleep sometime after 3am. I kept going through the situation in my head. Could I have done something more? I always took breaks while playing, never playing for more than three, at most four, hours at a time. If I hadn’t set it to shut down automatically after downloading The Cave and Hakuoki, would it still be here?

How am I going to pay to fix it? To replace it? If I go through Sony, I’ll never get this PS3 back. I’ll just be sent some random, refurbished model. My backwards compatibility, so prized, will be forever lost.

Is it even worth fixing it? I’ve heard those aren’t permanent. Some people only get a few more days. Others only get a few more weeks. At best, a year or two. Do I really want to pay about $80 for a repair that may only last a week?

It’s just sad. It feels all wrong. I always thought it would be a firmware update that would somehow kill my PS3. It shouldn’t have gone like this.

PS3 YLOD Acceptance

I’m still pissed as hell that my PS3 died on me. I hate it. Especially since it won’t even come back for even fifteen minutes so I can at least backup my Ni no Kuni and Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory saves.

But I know sitting here and being angry and upset isn’t going to help anything. The best thing I can do now is look into other options. I need to see if one of the local game stores will reball (not reflow) my electronic baby so this won’t happen. If that isn’t possible, then I may just have to do the most difficult thing of all – keep an eye out for a PS3 sale over the next few weeks and months so I can replace it.

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  • Keith

    Get a heat gun and some thermo compound, not a blow drier, a heat gun from a hardware store. Take your PS3 completely apart taking pictures of each stage so that you know where each part and screw goes. Blast the motherboard with the heat gun in a circular motion for approx 10 minutes keeping the heat gun approximately a foot away, then concentrate the heat gun on the GPU for approx 1 minute before circulating the heat gun back on the motherboard for approximately another 2-3 minutes. Let the motherboard cool, then add the thermal compound to the top of the GPU and the CPU and put back together. There is a good youtube video that will walk you through this, just keyword “fix YLOD” and you will be see how easy it really is (I wouldn’t try the towel trick because you risk cooking other components like your hard drive and/or wire insulations).

    BTW, I was upset that my PS3 wasn’t backwards compatible, so I know how important it is (sure would have been nice to play Battlefront on my PS3), but I read that the ones that aren’t backwards compatible hold up much better then those that are. Good luck, I hope this helps.

    • Jenni Lada

      Thanks for your help and suggestion! I actually took it to a nearby game store and it’s in the process of being professionally reballed. (Not reflowed. ;D) It should be back in a few days. I figure with something this important, I want to trust professionals. I’ve never done anything like this before and I’d be too worried I’d mess something up even though you’ve provided perfect instructions.

      • Keith

        You can never go wrong with letting the pros do it. I’m just a tightwad that always figured that it’s messed up anyway, if I can fix it *way to go* if I can’t *It needed to be replaced anyway*, that’s all. I also figured that this may help many people with the same problem. See you in the game!!!

  • The Great & Glorious Runmaster

    I had the YLOD issue and decided to follow the youtube suggestions on self repair about 8 months ago and yes, also used the heat gun method and arctic silver themal compaound. Surprisingly, it worked and even more so … I lost no data what-so-ever from the HDD. Been working a treat since but I confess that I now have a 500Gb external HDD from Officeworks that I use to backup my PS3 with every weekend when I go to bed. In the morning, all done which is great since the HDD only cost me like $70. (I never really trusted the damn cloud)

  • RedSh1ft

    Shame… I’ve gone through all of these phases as well, at least there IS a way to remove the HDD. All you need to do is to pop off the lid on the left side of the PS3, and use a phillips head to unscrew the blue screw.

    • Jenni Lada

      Yes, but from what I’ve heard, you can’t just pop a hard drive out of one PS3 and put it into another if you want to keep the data on the drive. There’s some kind of transfer procedure.