RIP Whitey: The Sad Death of My 4th Xbox 360

… But there’s some pretty spectacular silver lining to this tale of sorrow. 

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris


Another sad day has passed in the Keen household. After months of dealing with an erratic disc drive, my Xbox 360 (aka Whitey) finally gave up it’s fight for survival. Sure, the console still allowed me to play digital games, Netflix, and demos; unfortunately, it was the end of disc-based entertainment. All Xbox’s go to heaven, right?  

I swear, the problems began after the last major OS update. Prior to that time, Whitey (my fourth original console) had never had an issue reading discs. Immediately following Microsoft’s last mandatory update, discs would come up as “unrecognizable”. At first only new games had this issue. I’d have to eject the disc and replace it 10-15 times before the console recognized the thing. This worked well until a week ago the problem became more pronounced. At that point, no games or DVDs worked in the drive.

Being my fourth console since the 2005 launch, I knew my way around 1-800-4MY-XBOX quite well. I gave Microsoft an opportunity to fix their broken pile of circuitry to no avail. I’d have to chip in $99 just to replace the disc drive. No thanks. In my back pocket was a Hail Mary I’d be hanging onto for nearly seven years. You see, I bought my launch console from Costco.  Back in 2005 they offered to accept any returns without any time restrictions. With that in mind, I gave them a ring.

At first, the operator I spoke with practically laughed at me. However, once she realized I had bought the item from and not Costco stores, she transferred me to a different department. That CSR was far more understanding. She placed my issue in their Queue and indicated that I would know that they accepted my return if I was e-mailed a UPS Return Label. Two days later, that label arrived. Off Whitey went into the grand abyss.

Because Costco will only refund my purchase and not replace the console, I had to go out and pick up a new sleek black Xbox. After looking around town for the best deals, I snagged a 250 GB unit from Best Buy for $249. While I was glad to bring this bad ass home, I was concerned about my old data. You see, I used to play a lot of my games off of my Memory Unit. You know, those tiny white cards that Microsoft encouraged us to take with us to our friend’s houses. Unknown to me, Microsoft stripped the MU slot from the new consoles. Oops.

Lucky for me, CraveOnline’s illustrious Erik Norris had an extra old console in his closet. I transferred the MU files to my old hard drive and used Erik’s transfer cable to send those files to my new Xbox. After manually transferring over 600 files from the old hard drive to the new drive, I figured I was good to go. Not so fast.

You see, the 600+ files I transferred were missing some really important game saves. I’m not sure what happened or where these files went, but game saves for Kinect Sports: Season Two and Crackdown 2 were nowhere to be found.  ’m sure even more files were missing that I haven’t even discovered.

What I realized was that the file names for these games were ultra vague.  Files were named “GAME SAVE” and “GAME SAVE BACK-UP”. They had no actual path or game associated with them to know what game they were associated with. It really sucks that Microsoft, the kings of making the organization of their files clear on the PC, can’t provide a file structure to help me know what files are essential or not. Now I’m stuck with two games that I invested hours of play time into and nothing but a pile of Achievements to show for it. While Kinect Sports: Season Two should be easy to catch up with, I’ll likely never play Crackdown 2 again (that’s how labor intensive this game was).

In the end, the silver lining here is three-fold, first I get a sweet new console that is silent as a submarine.  Second, cloud saves should make my problem of losing hard disc based saves a thing of the past. Third, and finally, I’ll get a big fat refund from Costco.

The major puzzler here is what kind of life cycle should I expect from a video game console. Is it unfair to expect a piece of hardware to last seven years? I have TVs that have lasted that long. I’ve had handhelds last that long. Yet, I’ve had just as many vacuum cleaners die out on me. Is it safe to say that the Xbox 360 is the mechanical equivalent of a shitty Kmart vacuum?