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Troubleshoot Xbox 360 Problems Reading Game Discs

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

A variety of factors can prevent your Xbox 360 from reading the inserted disc. The problem can stem from a dirty or damaged disc, old system files on your machine, a defective hard drive, connected memory devices or a non-supported region code. Use troubleshooting to pin down your exact problem so you can best determine how to resolve your problem without having to send the console back to Microsoft for repairs.

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You can clear your Xbox 360's system cache from any of the devices listed in the Storage Devices screen.The region code icon is often on the front cover of games. For example, in this image from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the NTSC logo is in the upper-right corner.The region code is listed on most discs. For example, in this picture of the COD: Modern Warfare 3 discs, the NTSC region code appears beneath the ESRB rating.The button you press to release the hard drive is located between the hard drive and a vent.Ensure your game disc is as clean as possible. The Xbox 360 disc reader won't play a damaged or defective disc.Make sure no devices are connected to the Xbox 360's USB ports. Devices connected to the USB ports can occasionally prevent the console from playing your disc.
You can clear your Xbox 360's system cache from any of the devices listed in the Storage Devices screen.
You can clear your Xbox 360's system cache from any of the devices listed in the Storage Devices screen. | Source
The region code icon is often on the front cover of games. For example, in this image from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the NTSC logo is in the upper-right corner.
The region code icon is often on the front cover of games. For example, in this image from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the NTSC logo is in the upper-right corner. | Source
The region code is listed on most discs. For example, in this picture of the COD: Modern Warfare 3 discs, the NTSC region code appears beneath the ESRB rating.
The region code is listed on most discs. For example, in this picture of the COD: Modern Warfare 3 discs, the NTSC region code appears beneath the ESRB rating. | Source
The button you press to release the hard drive is located between the hard drive and a vent.
The button you press to release the hard drive is located between the hard drive and a vent. | Source
Ensure your game disc is as clean as possible. The Xbox 360 disc reader won't play a damaged or defective disc.
Ensure your game disc is as clean as possible. The Xbox 360 disc reader won't play a damaged or defective disc. | Source
Make sure no devices are connected to the Xbox 360's USB ports. Devices connected to the USB ports can occasionally prevent the console from playing your disc.
Make sure no devices are connected to the Xbox 360's USB ports. Devices connected to the USB ports can occasionally prevent the console from playing your disc. | Source

Clean the Game Disc

The disc you're attempting to play may be dirty or damaged. You can clean a dirty disc using a soft damp material. Do not try to rub off dirt that is difficult to remove using a rough towel or any type of material that could damage the disc further and also don't use any type of cleaning solution, as the contents of some cleaning solutions can also damage the disc. Instead, work to rub the dirt off using the soft damp cloth. If the disc is physically damaged, such as being cracked or warped by extreme sunlight, there is nothing you can do and the disc will likely never be playable.

Clear Xbox 360 Cache

Clearing your Xbox 360 cache gets rid of old system files that may be preventing your system from reading the disc you're currently trying to play. You can clear your cache through the console's system menu by doing the following:

  1. Press the green and gray "X" button in the center of your Xbox 360 remote control
  2. Move the right analog stick right to select the "Settings" tab.
  3. Move the left analog stick down to select "System Settings."
  4. Select "Storage" and then press "A."
  5. Press "Y" on any of the storage devices that appear. You can select any storage device because clearing the system cache on one device clears the system cache for the rest of the devices.
  6. Highlight "Clear System Cache" and then press "A."
  7. Highlight "Yes" and press "A" again to verify that you want to clear the system cache.
  8. Re-insert the same disc the console wouldn't recognize before to see if it will read it now.

Remove Xbox 360 Hard Drive

The Xbox 360's issues playing the game disc might be related to the hard drive that is attached to the console -- if you have a hard drive. Briefly detach the hard drive from the console and then try playing your game without the hard drive attached. If the game works, you may want to consider replacing the hard drive. You can remove the hard drive from the Xbox 360 console by doing the following:

  1. Power down the Xbox 360 console. The hard drive is located along the left edge of your Xbox 360 and protrudes slightly from your console.
  2. Press the small gray button located between the hard drive and a vent to eject the hard drive from your Xbox 360 console.
  3. Carefully grab the edges of the hard drive and then lift and remove it from the Xbox 360 console.
  4. Try playing the game disc you previously couldn't play.

Disconnect Memory and USB Devices

Connected memory and USB devices could be preventing your Xbox 360 from playing a game. Power down your Xbox 360 and disconnect any of those types of devices. Reboot your Xbox 360 and then try playing the game you've had issues playing.

Region Code

The game you're trying to play may be an Xbox 360 game, but it may not be compatible with the region code associated with where your Xbox 360 game console was purchased. For example, Xbox 360 game consoles purchased in the United States can play National Television System Committee (NTSC) marked games. If you try playing an Xbox 360 game that's not approved for play in the United States, your console won't be able to play that specific game.

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    • ddsurfsca profile image

      ddsurfsca 4 years ago from ventura., california

      we have two 360 consoles, and today when one of them failed to work right we hooked up the other to find that the power cord did not fit right because of some sort of tab that says BIZ on it. Are there different cords for the seemingly same game consoles? I never noticed this diff. before...

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