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Troubleshoot Xbox 360 Controller Connection Problems

Updated on January 8, 2016
Max Dalton profile image

Max holds a BS in Mass Communications from SIU and an MA in Communication from U of I, and is pursuing an MBA from Webster University.

Introduction

Various connection problems can make it difficult or impossible to use your Xbox 360 controller. You can experience problems with the lights around the Xbox button flashing because the controller refuses to sync with the Xbox 360 console when you turn it on, the controller may refuse to charge, the controller may not turn on or the controller may turn on but refuse to work properly. Try using troubleshooting to resolve your problem before trashing your Xbox 360 controller and buying a new one.

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The Microsoft Xbox 360 controller.The USB cable connects to the top center of the Xbox 360 controller.The light on the USB cable will be red when you're using a rechargeable battery and that battery is charging.The light on the USB cable will be green when you're using a rechargeable battery and that battery is charging.Uncheck the box that says Enable Vibration to turn that feature off and conserve battery power.On the original Xbox 360, there are two USB ports to the right of Power button and one on the back left side of the console.
The Microsoft Xbox 360 controller.
The Microsoft Xbox 360 controller. | Source
The USB cable connects to the top center of the Xbox 360 controller.
The USB cable connects to the top center of the Xbox 360 controller. | Source
The light on the USB cable will be red when you're using a rechargeable battery and that battery is charging.
The light on the USB cable will be red when you're using a rechargeable battery and that battery is charging. | Source
The light on the USB cable will be green when you're using a rechargeable battery and that battery is charging.
The light on the USB cable will be green when you're using a rechargeable battery and that battery is charging. | Source
Uncheck the box that says Enable Vibration to turn that feature off and conserve battery power.
Uncheck the box that says Enable Vibration to turn that feature off and conserve battery power. | Source
On the original Xbox 360, there are two USB ports to the right of Power button and one on the back left side of the console.
On the original Xbox 360, there are two USB ports to the right of Power button and one on the back left side of the console. | Source

Disconnect USB Devices and Restart Xbox 360

Shut down your Xbox 360 console and disconnect any non-essential devices that are attached, such as cooling fans or wireless receivers. Wait for five minutes and then restart the device. This resets the device, shutting down any other functions that may be running and interfering with your ability to use your controller, and can also put an end to any temporary software hiccup that may have been causing your remote problems. If you turn the Xbox 360 back on and the controller works, connect each of the non-essential devices one by one and continue navigating through the Xbox 360 menu using the remote control just to make sure the controller still works with that device connected. If you connect one of the devices and the controller suddenly stops working, the problems is with that device. However, if after reconnecting all of the non-essential equipment the controller is still, the problem was likely just a system hiccup. If the problem keep occurring, try some of the other troubleshooting methods listed in this article.

Replace Batteries or Charge a Rechargeable Controller Battery

  • Both rechargeable and non-chargeable batteries give your roughly 24 hours of playing time before you need to either replace or recharge them. If you never purchased a rechargeable battery for your controller, the odds are that you're using battery power and that those batteries need to be replaced with two AA batteries. However, if you're using a rechargeable battery, you must plug the battery in to an available USB port on the Xbox 360 for charging using the USB cable that came with the rechargeable battery pack. When the battery is charging, the light on the connector that plugs in to the Xbox 360 controller will be red; when the battery is done charging, the light will be green. Be careful to look at the light after connecting the USB cable to the Xbox 360 controller to make sure it either comes on or turns red if you know the battery is dead. If the light doesn't respond the way it should, try connecting the USB cable in to a different USB port on the Xbox 360 console; there are two USB ports on the front right side of the device and one on the back left of the console. If none of the USB ports seem to be working, try using a different charging cable, if you have one, to charge the controller; it's possible the charging cable you're using is defective and needs to be replaced. However, if it's evident that one USB port has stopped working and the others are working, consider contacting Microsoft for further support, as your problem extends further than your Xbox 360 controller.
  • Enabling the vibration feature on your Xbox 360 controller can drain the battery life much faster than when the feature is disabled. If the feature is enabled and you're playing a game where the vibration feature is frequently used and you're also charging your battery, it's possible that the controller may stop working because it can't charge faster than the battery is being drained. You can turn off the vibration feature by doing the following:
  1. Press the green and gray "X" button in the center of your Xbox 360 controller.
  2. Move the right analog over until the Settings menu appears.
  3. Highlight "Preferences" and press "A."
  4. Highlight "Vibration" and press "A."
  5. Highlight "Enable Vibration" and press "A" until the check box is empty to disable the vibration feature.

External Objects and Your Xbox 360 Controller

Because your Xbox 360 controller communicates with your console through sending and receiving signals over the airwaves, other devices that send and receive signals can interfere with your controller's ability to communicate with your console. For example, cordless phones, cell phones, wireless routers and baby monitors in close proximity of your wireless controller can prevent your controller from communicating with the console. Also, devices that traditionally block or reduce wireless signals, such as thick walls and large metal objects can also prevent your controller from communicating with the Xbox 360 console. Additionally, be certain that you're using the controller within 33 feet of the Xbox 360 console, as the controller signal becomes less strong or non-existent if you're more than 33 feet away from the console. Also, make sure there are no people or objects between the controller and the console, as these can also block communication between the two devices.

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