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Unreadable Disc Error – Xbox 360 DVD Drive

Posted on August 18, 2008 by Jared

Last Wednesday, I decided I would play some GTA IV before the wife got home. So turned on the Xbox, popped in the disc, and got to it. About 20 minutes into my session, I began to hear a horrible noise coming from the DVD drive. After a few seconds of growling, a Xbox blade came across the screen saying the disc was unreadable.

Cursing under my breath, I got up from the couch to give the Xbox and game a close look. Of course, the disc was fine. I put in another game just to be sure, and got the “unreadable disc” error once again. I inserted a movie we had watched over the weekend. No dice.

What comes next is what really frustrates me. My Xbox 360 is just over a year old so I consider it to be pretty new. Also, it’s the “Elite” version, a version I had hoped Microsoft had released with confidence. Besides all that, I have never heard of DVD drives just going out like that and, if they do, it’s because they are obviously defective. In my six years of working at Dell, you want to know how many computers I had to repair because of a bad CD or DVD drive? That’s right, none.

I called 1-800-4MY-XBOX the next evening to see what my options were, even though deep down I knew that I was going to have to pay to have it repaired. After speaking my way through the automated options (which I’ve never understood why it’s better than just “pressing 1″) I got in touch with a support guy rather quickly. He walked me through some really basic troubleshooting in his best “I’m hip and young too, bro” voice and soon agreed that my Hitachi DVD drive was toast. Then he informed me that, since my Xbox was out of warranty, I could have it fixed and my warranty extended for $99.

I’ll admit, I thought about just trying to fix it myself. I mean, it’s just a DVD drive, right? Well, I did a little research and found that I’d have to buy a particular brand/model and somehow flash it with the Xbox’s key. Looked like that was going to cost me around $60 + my time, so the $99 repair fee began to sound better and better.

I plan on making another call tonight to go through with the repair. I also plan on updating this post with all of my experiences with the repair process as they happen so that other people may know what to expect. I also hope that other people who are having this same kind of problem will leave a comment for the record. Who knows, maybe this will turn out to be the same sort of thing as the Three Red Lights.

EDIT: I recently fixed my Xbox with just a touch of glue. To find out how I did it, read this article: Fix the Unreadable Disc Error. If you’re not ready to send your Xbox in for repair or attempt to fix it yourself, read about the different ways you can use your broken xbox.

If you’re ready to just get another Xbox 360, you might want to consider getting on that’s used. There’s a great list you can use to find a good used xbox at BuyUsedGear.com

Also read: When to buy a used Xbox


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49 Responses to “Unreadable Disc Error – Xbox 360 DVD Drive”

  1. Jordan on September 6th, 2008 10:53 pm

    im sad my DVD Drive just took a dumb on me aswell.

  2. Jared Holt on September 8th, 2008 11:00 am

    I feel your pain, man. I was using my xbox as my dvd player too, so now I have to watch my movies on the tiny TV in the bedroom. Sucks.

    I know I said I was probably going to send my box in for repairs within a week of the post, but I haven’t been able to do that just yet. The wife and I have been spending all our extra cash on baby stuff! :o

    In the mean-time, here’s how you can continue to use your Xbox even though the DVD drive is broken.

  3. derek on September 11th, 2008 8:18 am

    I had the same problem and found your site and this thread: http://forums.ea.com/mboards/thread.jspa?threadID=424003&tstart=0

    You might want to look at it.

  4. Boogers McGee on October 31st, 2008 6:55 am

    There seems to be a WHOLE lot of people experiencing this problem. My main question is what is MS going to do about it? (The answer…probably nothing because they don’t have enough money to make good quality gaming systems.)

    I think that my problem may be alittle different, but not sure…Since i just experienced it a few minutes ago and am still doing some research I haven’t found the solution I’m willing to accept at this moment. Anyways my situation is this…
    I have a BRAND NEW game (as in just opened it 20 minutes ago) that my 360 refuses to recognize, while still playing some older games, some in excellent condition and some with a few scratches. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to this error. I shouldn’t have to try 3 other discs (as suggested on the xbox.com website) or rub it’s HDD counter-clockwise with strawberry scented massage oil to make it work. (Some of the “solutions” I have found so far actually sound this ridiculous lol.) For $350 it should blow me as well as play ANY disc I put in it!

    This will be the last Microsoft gaming system I spend a penny on!

  5. tiffany on November 6th, 2008 11:57 pm

    This same problem happened to me, along with probably hundreds of thousands of other people as well!! Microsoft is so STUPID; obviously, this is a major recurring problem, and it is MICROSOFT’S MISTAKE!!! So why in the hell do the paying customers have to pay for them being terrible at making a video game system!!!? It’s not our fault that they suck at making good products. They need to pay for their problems, which is causing many, many people to be angry at microsoft! I’m not forking out 100 bucks for their crappy ass hardware! It should be included in the warranty!

    Microsoft’s reputation is going down the toilet everyday!

  6. ED on November 10th, 2008 10:20 pm

    Same problem with me. My dvd drive sucks. It messed up last month and now I can’t play gears of war 2, one of my all time favorites. I’m starting to think Microsoft is doing this on purpose. My charger broke,controller and about 4 gears of war games (and I take good care of my games) and now I’m hearing that the elite is f**ing up!!! The one system they said was gonna last! I’m just going to give up on Microsoft. They are sinking to the ground… if it wasn’t for halo 3 and gears of war, they would have been dead already!!!

    **This post has been edited by an Administrator**

  7. Rhonda on November 23rd, 2008 4:43 pm

    My Xbox 360 was my DVD player…not a year old and it quit about 2months ago. I thought it was the DVD, but, it plays games and CD’s. I am going to try to call tomorrow to see if it is fixable.

  8. Tyler on December 24th, 2008 2:14 pm

    So I borrow a game from my Friend who i was just over at his house playing his game on his xbox. i put the game in my xbox it says disc unreadable. Talk about f**king bullshit . The f**king console is a total piece of shit way to go Microsoft thanks for ruining my day and making me cough up $100 to fix the fucking thing

  9. Clark Haynes on December 24th, 2008 3:59 pm

    I also have this problem. When MS siad it was going to cost me I decided they should NOT get anymore of my money for this system that has already had to be repaired once do to the red light issue. So I did some research and ordered a replacement DVD but missed the part about it needing to be flashed. So I CRACKED the case and replace the drive only to find out that now I have a very expensive DVD player that won’t play XBOX games. I went back and completed my research on the whole FLASH thing and found that MS has made a huge move in blocking the tools that a lamen needs to do this. Every sight that had the help to complete this processe has removed there download links with a statement of legality. Not only is MS not taking responsibility for this problem they do not allow us a way to fix it with out them making a few more bucks. Of course because I opened my own case up I can no longer send it to microsoft to get it fixed. ARRRRRGGGGGG

  10. Luke on January 3rd, 2009 1:20 am

    Well mine is a strange one – Gears of War 2 won’t reconize as a game but a DVD, I have played it before on my 360 now it reckons its a DVD. WTF?!?

  11. Stacy on March 3rd, 2009 8:33 am

    I live in the US. My fiance lives overseas at the moment until I can join him. He bought me an Xbox 360 so we would have something to do together during the long months and keep the relationship alive. After 3 months, the console has consistently started increasing the number of times if says “The disc is unreadable. Please clean with a soft cloth” “Restart your console”. I have been fighting with this thing all morning and it refuses to read any games now. An earlier post had it correct: there is no rhythm or rhyme to this. I inserted another game (Fable II) and it reads it everytime perfectly, regardless of when I take it out, shut off the console, etc. It refuses to play Saints Row 2 or Oblivion. I am still under Microsoft warranty but I will have to wait 2-3 weeks to get my console back :(

    I have no faith in Microsoft to be perfectly honest. My fiance has gone through 3 Xbox 360s within the past year. He was out of warranty on his first one, so he bought a second one. After a few months, whenever he would insert a game, his Xbox 360 would tell him to insert the disc into an Xbox 360… as if the console didn’t even know it was an Xbox 360. He was covered under a year warranty by the store he bought it from, due to regulations in the country he is living in, so he instantly got a replacement.

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything, but I really do think that Microsoft is trying to bleed all of us for what they can. They’re smart enough to break into the gaming market and dominate within a few years, yet they are “unable” to fix a problem as simple as reading a disc? Furthermore, with the amount of time spent on earning achievements, and the friends you make on Xbox Live, it is really hard to say to hell with it and buy a ps3. I’m tempted, except for my social networking on Xbox Live (fiance and friends). Microsoft has no soul. They know it and they do not care- and we all will continue to give them money anyway.

  12. Chris on March 5th, 2009 9:57 am

    I weep with all of you…
    I myself bought a XBOX 360 Elite, and I’ve had it for longer than the warranty, and just a couple of months ago the DVD drive just stoppped opening, well after opening it using a paper clip it finally stripped the gears and won’t open at all, well that’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands. I cracked open the case pulled out the DVD drive and took the top covering off, and removed my disc that was stuck in there, and for a couple of week after I just sat the disc in there and put the top back on and continueed on playing my games, that is untill removing the top so much actually warped the piece of metal, and the little black object was no longer holding it down, so I discovered that if I put exactly 50 plbs. of weight on top of the disc drive it hummed for a second and then played my game. Well I didn’t like the idea of carrying 50 plbs. worth of weight with me every time I took my 360 somewhere so I ordered a replacement, and discovered that I need to “FLASH” the drive that I ordered… So now I’m out $449.99, for the 360 Elite, and now $60 for the replacement drive that I can’t and don’t know how to “FLASH”. Can anyone help me??

  13. Alex on March 8th, 2009 1:06 pm

    I am in complete agreement with Stacy, who seems to be having the exact same problem I am having. Although I’m not able to send my xbox in w/out paying 99 bucks because I’ve already opened the piece of **** up to fix something else that previously went wrong. I’m feeling pretty unlucky because I’ve only owned this xbox for 4 months, and on top of that this is the second xbox. My first xbox had the freezing problem so i exchanged it. What really sucks is the fact that im only 16 and I’m not able to get a job until this summer…so I really have no source of income to go around paying for **** that is Microsoft’s fault to begin with. If anyone discovers a way to rid themselves of this problem without sending their xbox in post a link or something.

  14. Jared Holt on March 8th, 2009 9:36 pm

    After a little digging, I came across a pretty good tutorial that explains how to “spoof” your original drive. Basically, you’re going to trick your Xbox 360 into thinking the new drive is actually the old one.

    http://www.360-hq.com/xbox-tutorials-61.html

    If you want to look around for more information, I suggest doing a search for “spoofing xbox 360 dvd drive” or something similar. Also, there’s mention of some other things like “Slax” and the “cross wire trick.” I haven’t read about those very much, but I think they’re a big part of spoofing and fixing your dvd drive situation.

    If I ever decide to fix something like this on my own, I’ll be sure to write up a detailed tutorial and post it here. It’s a huge frustration and I think it would be great for people to be able to fix Microsoft’s screw-ups without paying an additional $99.

  15. Jared Holt on March 12th, 2009 3:46 pm

    Ok, I have even more info. Since my 360 was out of warranty anyway, I decided to go ahead and open it up. I found that the little magnet that sits beneath the center of the the game disc had come lose and was stuck to the top of the DVD drive enclosure (on the inside).

    I think this is actually just one of the problems my drive is having. The drive still makes some funny noises even after I put the magnet back in place (I suspect the worm motor that moves the laser is going out).

    Anyway, I’m able to get my games to work now. It’s not perfect or pretty, but it works. I’m considering replacing the DVD drive altogether at some point, which should fix all the problems I’ve been having.

    I think I’m going to create a post soon that has some pictures of my drive so people can see what I’m talking about. I may even create a full tutorial on how to replace a DVD drive and/or worm motor, depending on which I do. In either case, I’ll be sure to link to it from this page.

    Good luck, everyone!

  16. Jared Holt on March 18th, 2009 10:57 pm

    Good news, everyone! I fixed my unreadable disc error. To read more about it, check out this post:

    http://www.geekinspired.com/geek-inspired/gaming/how-to-fix-the-unreadable-disc-error-xbox-360/

  17. josh on August 29th, 2009 3:01 am

    hey guys

    i come home from work and the same thing i didnt do a goddman thing to this xbox i keep it clean elevated, wipe it down, treat it like gold and i come home and it wont read shit not one fuckin’ game! I am pisssed plus i split on it with a friend and we switch it back and forth, so im gonna have to pay for it. I am wondering if this problem is part of plan by the microsoft team to have it clock out and become obsolete, so you’d have to fix it? becuz this dosent happen out of the blue? i am so angry, Why cant a company make a good product that lasts, piece of shit

  18. Matthew Vonreiner on September 1st, 2009 1:05 pm

    Well I too am having the same issues with the drive and after doing some extensive research I believe the best course of action would be to file a class action law suit against MS for their Deceptive business practices. Since I now have TWO BROKEN xboxes one with the two red ring of death that I was able to fix, and another with a f’d up dvd drive. and wouldnt you know it the drives are not compatible with the other one is the toshiba/samsung the other is the older version hitachi which is still running strong. I will find an easy way to fix this problem I promise and when I do i will post it here, please feel free to email me if you have any questions…

    Matthew

  19. Matthew sheppard on November 1st, 2009 4:17 pm

    Yea just 2day i was playing Gears 2,and my system was working fine. i turned it of 2 go 2 church and when i got home i turned it on and started playing. it almost loaded them said he disk was dirty, so i tryed GTA IV, same shit, but now theres this fucking grinding noise. ive treated my 360 better than i wood anything else in the world and it shits the bed. WTF??!!

  20. oliver on November 10th, 2009 2:32 am

    OMFG!! just started happening to me, and guess what day it is! YES!!! MW2 DAY!! OMG!!!

  21. Darren Harvey on November 18th, 2009 10:50 am

    Grrrrr had MW2 for a day and then this happens, my console is 1 month out of warranty and even worse this is my 4th xbox in nearly 4 years!

  22. Luke on December 4th, 2009 7:39 am

    I’ve just read through the rest of the thread and only found one person with the same problem. I’m getting the ‘unreadable disc error’ but ONLY on one game – MW2. Everything else, games, cd’s, DVD’s work fine except this one. Tried 4 different discs, they all work fine in everyone elses boxes but not mine. Any idea what the hell is going on?

  23. Ace on December 8th, 2009 7:57 am

    This happened to me as well yesterday. I just got two new games tried them both it was a no go. Tried my brand new game and nope didn’t load. This is my second DVD drive.

    Things that have worked for me is to just open up the Xbox 360 since my warranty is long gone. I take out the DVD drive and replace the DVD drive with a new one. You don’t have to flash a new drive if you know what you are doing. You can take out the circuit board out of the DVD drive and put it in your new drive.

    I spend 25 bucks. On a new drive. A lot cheaper then 99 dollars.

    Don’t try this unless your really techno savvy.

  24. Bob on December 31st, 2009 2:42 pm

    I TOTALY AGREE……mine is like 11 months old and my disc is unreadible….modern warfare 2…….that kills me that i can’t play it!!!!! thats the only disc that does that….. so they sold me a faulty disc….what idoits…..y do i have to go back and exchange it for another i mean come on.

  25. Bob on December 31st, 2009 2:42 pm

    I TOTALY AGREE……mine is like 11 months old and my disc is unreadible….modern warfare 2…….that kills me that i can’t play it!!!!! thats the only disc that does that….. so they sold me a faulty disc….what idoits…..y do i have to go back and exchange it for another i mean come on because they screwed up

  26. Cory on February 27th, 2010 12:58 pm

    just found this so im a little late but…my 360 is pretty old, couple of years now. this problem has come up randomly for as long as i can remember, yet i seem to have always been able to fix it by simply ejecting the game and starting over, however in some cases (the first modern warfare – i couldnt play a few levels online, and the new one – recently ive been able only to get thru half a game online until this comes up) i simply have no idea what to do. as some of the other people here have posted, my xbox makes a REALLY terrible sound (im not too sure about any of the hardware or whatever, but the thing sounds like shit) and for perfectly good games (it happened 2 days after i got mw2) it just kills em. Its gotten to the point today that i cant play at all….i need help!!

  27. Cory on February 27th, 2010 8:12 pm

    I had this problem too in MW2 to the point where i couldnt even play 1 multiplayer match and solved it simply by installing the game to my hard drive….i’d try that?

  28. wes on March 19th, 2010 3:28 am

    same shit is happening to me right now.
    and im not paying 99$ i dont have that kinda money to throw around on entertainment right now, not after i just lost me job.

  29. Kade on March 23rd, 2010 1:06 pm

    I’m having the same problem right now! I’ve gotten the “unreadable error” about 8 times and when my 360 loads the disk it makes a “wooshing” sound, I truly hate to fork out 99$ though. Plus I’m out of warrenty as well.

  30. jason on May 10th, 2010 12:37 pm

    my xbox wont play any game at all but it will play cd’s and dvd’s. i was in the middle of mw2 online and unreadable disk pops up and i could never play a game since i aint paying no 100 bucks. its a terrable console and i will never buy another one. back to the playstation for me. sony do a much better console fuck the xbox

  31. Robbert on August 20th, 2010 7:29 am

    I just had myself replace my drive, and I still get the unreadable disc error with the game star ocean the last hope everytime I want to go to EN III >.>

  32. Rosetta Stone French on December 2nd, 2010 4:14 am

    I found just the data I already searched everywhere and just couldn’t find. What a ideal site. Like this site your web page is one of my new favs.I like this internet site shown and it has given me some sort of desire to have success for some reason, so thanks.

  33. visual pinball table on December 3rd, 2010 5:22 am

    Thanks a ton due to this infomation

  34. Daniel on December 22nd, 2010 11:29 pm

    my xbox 360 silm is getting worse its starts not playing my games and dvd.it plays sometimes and it doesnt after that a month later its satert makeing a loud stupid sound.sometimes when i put in a game its says play dvdits supid

  35. Daniel on December 22nd, 2010 11:30 pm

    and mine only 3 month old

  36. Lynn on January 1st, 2011 9:40 pm

    I am really really mad at Microsoft about this not being able to move your Xbox! I just spent money to buy my daughter an Xbox and call of duty game for Christmas.

    Today they were playing in the living room and I was vacuuming so they paused the game. Well I moved it with the game paused and now the game console ruined the game. If the console is that sensitive there should be a warning right on the console so it cannot be missed.
    How stupid that something played by KIDS and adults can be that sensitive!!! Bill Gates may have the money to go out and buy a new game but I have been out of work for over a year and replacing one game is not something I can run out and do. I now have a useless $60.00 disc and since that was the only game she got there is nothing she can do with the console. I am sure nothing can be done but I just wanted to voice my opinion. I like my WII so much better and have never had any kind of issue with it ruining anything.
    I was not going to buy the Xbox because I think WII is much better anyway but she really and Xbox for Christmas.

    THIS BULLSH*T

  37. omalley on January 20th, 2011 8:19 pm

    jesus fucking christ this shit just happened to me wtf man ima have to slap bill gates up if he dont fix it for free :D

  38. Steven Bray on February 22nd, 2011 1:22 am

    dont send it to microsoft cause you can find people like me that will fix it fo 50.

  39. mac on April 3rd, 2011 12:28 am

    Here it is April 2011 and I writing regarding the same problem. I’ve had many 360′s
    and they’ve all been defective either red light, or disc read error. None of my xbox360′s have lasted more than a year. I’ve seriously lost count, I’m on my 6th one for sure and I take good care with my equipment.

  40. bob on April 16th, 2011 1:32 pm

    my x-box 360 elite hard drive just deleted all my data due to a common glitch(according to about 5 pages of forums on google) … and microsoft cant do a thing about it!

  41. treve on June 7th, 2011 9:35 am

    I had the disc eror problem aswell so i thought i would change the disc drive so i did. I had the Benq version and i bought a brand new one and i had to cut and join the wires inside because there is only two ribbons and not three connecting to the chipboard.

    Once i completed the swap over i still have the same problem. CAN ANYONE HELP ME.

  42. Laura on September 6th, 2011 3:20 pm

    i experenced the red ring of death after 1 years worth of playing the console.i opened it up and hoovered the insides.it worked for 2 weeks then got the red ring of death again.i then bought a secondhand xbox ellite thinking it was the better option.now after 2 months it has the disk drive reading error! im convinced this is done on purpose so people will just buy another one.nothing is made to last these days.its all a money making scheme.

  43. talha iqbal on September 10th, 2011 6:27 am

    HI.i m very much puzzled for my xbox 360 cuz after an update from the disc some games are not working like COD MW2 BLACK OPS AND HALO.getting an error disc unreadable.I play pirated games.how can i fix the problem????

  44. eddie on October 4th, 2011 4:58 am

    @talha iqbal you have to reflashed your xbox 360 because the update change dvd drive back to original firmware…you can still play other pirated games accept games that have ap 2.5

  45. Matt on December 27th, 2011 10:37 pm

    So I’ve had the old 20g xbox 360 for a while, that one is down in my basement and still works but with a busted looking screen. I got the elite xbox 360 last christmas in 2010. Within 20 times of playing it, if that, it had that screen come up. I just got Forza 4 for christmas and it ended up working just fine. Just went to turn the game on a second time after earlier today, and what do you know, cannot read disc. FML on the real dude & FXBOX.

  46. Angelo on July 2nd, 2012 2:39 am

    I love playing the clasic fighting game called Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3! I was playing it one day and suddenly it says” The Disc is Unreadable” and I keep on having that everyday! So I go to http://www.xbox.com/support and answer the question and all it says is 1.Do not touch the sides or the disc itself and get a soft, damp cloth. 2.Get the cloth and wipe the disc from where it says X-box 360 with the logo. Thats it that X-Box can say to you. But, I dont want to call Microsoft or buy a new UMVC3. I cant even go to the menu of the game! If anyone can help, my gamertag is: A Marvel Weapon! Thanks and please help! P.S. My X-box is already 6 years old and it still works good but refuses to make the disc work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :( :( :( :(

  47. Lee on August 28th, 2012 11:19 pm

    Somebody please answer me so somethings wrong with my xbox 360 if i have to download it to play games

  48. tom on April 1st, 2013 4:41 pm

    you don’t have to do anything crazy!! take a blow dryer make sure its on cold and leave the disc tray open and put the blow dryer up to it and let it rip also put it up to the vents on top and sides and my xbox has worked ever since it didn’t work for a week until I tried this your lasers just have to be cleaned and I just blew the dust off of it..didn’t have to pay a penny or touch a tool

  49. Jared Holt on April 2nd, 2013 8:52 am

    That may work for dirty lenses. In my case, I had a magnet that came unseated. There was no way around replacing the drive or breaking it down to glue it back in place. It’s been four years and I’m still using this same Xbox… though, I’ve had to do a few other repairs along the way (reseating the heatsink, etc). It got to the point where I didn’t bother putting it back together. The wife hates looking at it, but it works and I can dig back in if something else breaks. Let’s just hope the next iteration of the Xbox doesn’t have so many issues!

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