Opinion// Saga: Fixing a Firmware "Down-dated" PS3

Posted 10 Sep 2009 14:59 by
UPDATE: The problems described in this article have been fixed. Read the forum posts below to find out how.

OK, before I start, this is not a bash or rant at Sony, I've had nothing but good times with my PS3 until this incident and everybody I have spoken to about the problem has been understanding and professional. I'm not trying to start a flame war about reliability or which console is best. What I'm doing here is putting down what happened to me so that if someone else has the same problem, they might be able to use my experiences to help themselves.

As you probably know if you follow these things, Tuesday September 1st saw the release of PS3 firmware 3.00 with all sorts of wizzy (and not so wizzy) features. Since I had heard nothing to indicate I shouldn't do so, I set my UK launch 60GB upgrading on the evening of the 1st. Since I was late home that evening, I left it running, expecting to take a look at the changes the next day.

The next evening, I took a look at my PS3 to find that all I could get out of it was a black screen and that my controllers wouldn't connect. I tried my original Sixaxis and my official UK DualShock 3 both wirelessly and with the USB cable. All I got was all four controller lights flashing for a couple of seconds and then going out. I couldn't even get that out of them twice without restarting the PS3. Again, it was late and I resolved to try and fix things later.

On Thursday I had to go on a trip to London that saw me get back at half ten and I was too knackered to start and do anything. Similarly, Friday saw nothing done. So it was Saturday before I could try and do anything to fix the situation. I tried restarting, resetting (hold down power for two bleeps) from standby. I tried HDMI and composite. Nothing worked.

I found out about "safe mode" on the PlayStation FAQs. Safe mode involves, from standby, holding the power button for three bleeps (approx 10 seconds) which turns the console on and then off again, then holding the power button for two widely spaced bleeps and two closely spaced bleeps (approx 7 seconds). This should bring up a menu where you can perform some system-related operations such as restoring the file system, rebuilding the database, etc. Even this low-level menu wouldn't appear for me.

I spent most of Saturday trying various combinations of things, even removing the HDD to see if that would help. All to no avail. I posted a message on the PlayStation Technical Help forum and gave up for the weekend. I resolved that if I got no reply by Monday, I'd give Sony a bell to see what my chances of getting a repair were.

Monday came around with no reply to my posting, although it had 20 or so reads by then, so I called the PlayStation Careline. The guy I spoke to was obviously reading from a script to start with, but after I went through what I had tried, he loosened up and started chatting, suggesting things and getting advice from other people there.

Since I was ringing from work, I didn't have my PS3 in front of me to run through his suggestions, but I'd already tried them all in any case. I found out that Sony didn't offer a repair service for the issue I was seeing and that a replacement PS3 would be a refurbishment, cost me 128 and that I would lose my save files. I opened a support ticket and said I'd ring back when I was in front of my PS3 and make a decision about a replacement then.

That evening, I resolved to try a couple of other things to see if I could figure out if it was my hardware at fault or something on the hard drive. Since I'd previously tried starting up without the HDD installed, I wasn't hopeful, but I took the office retail PS3 and a USB stick with firmware 3.00 on it home on the off chance that I could get something sorted out.

The first thing I tried was to restart my PS3 with the USB stick attached, hoping that it would be re-installed and everything would be nice. However, predictably, this didn't happen.
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Crack attack 10 Sep 2009 19:13
Strange considering ps3 are identical based on components and just cannot figure out why a few seem to brick even though they are identical?
Troopa 11 Sep 2009 00:28
Wow what a nightmare. I've just a discussion on a podcast asking if sony even beta test these updates because of the uncharted issues. Uncharted is one of the foremost exclusive titles on the PS3 so you'd think they'd check that it still works after the update? Right?

I'm no fanboy, I own a PS3 and an X360 too, and frankly they're differant machines so i don't really see either as better than the other. But I do stop and look at sony occasionally and wonder just what they were thinking when they made that decision. This is one of those times.

Well good luck getting your PS3 back up and running again. Here's hoping the problem gets solved smoothly.
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Joji 11 Sep 2009 15:46
God damn! That's one hell of a PS3 nightmare tale. I still want a PS3 for my collection, but this is scary. And loosing all your saves too, that's really got to hurt. If it were me I'd probably cry for a few days.

This is a good example, for all those fools who moan about 360 RRoD. At least MS fix and ship our 360s, for us for free (not to be sniffed at since they are going to Germany). Sony in the same boat, never provides anywhere near the same satisfactory customer service. We've seen this lack of customer care even back on PS2 (Oh your, PS2 died? Then buy another, bitch), and I feel for any gamer that would have to go through this bs with PS3, then have Sony turn up their nose, and not fix/replace it for you. That's shocking.

Sony also push these updates too frequently for my liking, and perhaps its looking like someone didn't do their homework. Let's hope they get on to sorting it out, pronto. Bricked PS3's? Who'd have thought. Sony must learn, that if a problem arises, its how they respond to it that counts more, than the problem itself, especially in the customers eyes. You must always try to see with those eyes, but i guess Sony don't have any or care to see the customers point of view.

Wow, I hear the sound of consumer tv shows calling.
tyrion 11 Sep 2009 17:43
Troopa wrote:
Well good luck getting your PS3 back up and running again. Here's hoping the problem gets solved smoothly.

Thanks. It is pretty much sorted now, only Wi-fi is missing, so no PSN/Home/Store, etc. However, I know my trophies are safe and I can re-download any content from the store when I get it back online, so I'm not that annoyed. At least I saved myself the 128! :-)
tyrion 11 Sep 2009 17:52
Joji wrote:
At least MS fix and ship our 360s, for us for free (not to be sniffed at since they are going to Germany). Sony in the same boat, never provides anywhere near the same satisfactory customer service.

Within warranty, Sony replace for free; within the week apparently. However, mine is a launch PS3 and is well past it's 1 year warranty.

Joji wrote:
I feel for any gamer that would have to go through this bs with PS3, then have Sony turn up their nose, and not fix/replace it for you. That's shocking.

There's no mention of Sony refusing to replace a PS3, they'll do it happily, but if it's out of warranty, you have to pay for the replacement. Just like everybody else.

The fact that Microsoft was forced to extend its 360 warranty to three years due to poor and sub-standard hardware (even conservative estimates put it way over industry norms for failure rates) shouldn't impact on Sony or Nintendo, who both have much more reliable hardware.

Joji wrote:
You must always try to see with those eyes, but i guess Sony don't have any or care to see the customers point of view.

They are no better or worse than anybody else. It's not as if I bought a console yesterday and was refused a fix or repair today.

I'm pretty happy with the service I got from Sony, I didn't have to wait at all to get through to the Careline and I rang twice in the middle of the day. I was treat with respect and listened to. Obviously, the guys I spoke to were constrained in what they could say, but they were very helpful and didn't make me feel like a number.

Like I said in the article, this wasn't intended as a dig at Sony or the start of a flamewar. It's just an account of what happened.
tyrion 16 Sep 2009 12:44
Well, as you might expect, I tried firmware 3.01 last night and got the same result - black screen, no controller connecting and no access to safe mode.

I'm beginning to think that the firmware loader in 2.80 is corrupt on my machine and I'll need to re-try re-applying that firmware before I can upgrade any further.

As ever, I'll keep you all up to date with what's happening.
miacid 16 Sep 2009 15:07
Just thought I'd add my past experience to this thread, about a year ago my PS3 just hung in the middle of a Blu-ray of all things, so I did the usual turn it off back on again, tried the same Blu-Ray it hung, tried a previous Blu-Ray which I knew worked, then tried games which I knew worked and all hung after roughly a few minutes.

Phoned the Sony Careline and had a very similar experience as tyrion, my system was just over a month out of warranty and the guy checked with his manager and they said they'd replace it as a show of faith, big sigh of relief from me and a few brownie points for Sony!

As I've got the 60Gb version I was offered a brand new 80Gb PS3 of a refurbished 60Gb, which is the option I went for. Had to wait a week for it to turn up and everything worked fine for a few weeks, then it started having power issues!

Back on the phone to Sony, a week later another (refurb) 60Gb PS3 turned up and too this day it's working without a problem, even with the new firmware. It had one issue a few months back when the controllers won't connect wirelessly, however this was only for a couple of days and cleared up on it's own! Can't remember if this was after a previous firmware update of not.

Hope everyone else manages to get theirs sorted.
George 17 Sep 2009 11:50
If you want your network back without the cable get a homeplug AV setup going, much better than wireless any day.
tyrion 22 Sep 2009 07:51
Well, I had another crack at it last night. I tried to re-apply 2.80 through the safe mode menu's system update option, but I kept getting an error (8002f281) which might indicate an HDD error.

I tried a full format from the format utility off the XMB, which took aver 3 hours to run, but that didn't help at all. I now get the error if I try to upgrade to 2.80 or 3.01 from the safe mode menu, and I get the black screen if I try to upgrade to 3.01 from the XMB.

I've seen reports that a file system restore can solve 8002f281 errors. I'm sure I tried that last night, but it may have been before the full format. I'll give it a go again tonight, but after that it may be time to try another hard drive.
tyrion 23 Sep 2009 08:46
Success! I've now got a working PS3 again, firmware 3.01 and wireless networking to boot!

All I needed was a new hard drive. I borrowed the office PS3 again and used its drive. We didn't have much on there and we didn't mind it being wiped.

I popped the office's HDD into my machine and turned it on. My PS3 recognised the new drive and said I'd have to re-format it. This I expected because each HDD has an encrypted file system keyed to the PS3 it was formatted on and can't be read on any other machine - PS3 or PC.

After the format, my PS3 came up normally, going through the initial install procedure like I'd just brought it home from the shop. I still couldn't set up a wireless connection, but I hoped that a firmware update (I was still on 2.80 at this point) would help.

I started the firmware upgrade to 3.01 from a USB stick, the files copied to the new HDD and my PS3 restarted ... to a black screen that wouldn't go anywhere! I was gutted, this was my last chance and it didn't seem to have worked.

I've never been able to get from that black screen to the safe mode menu before, but I gave it a another go. And the firmware started installing! I've never been so happy to see that message or progress bar; I watched it go the entire time.

After the restart, 3.01 came up perfectly, rebuilt my database and restarted again. I was quite happy at this point, but I still couldn't set up a wireless network connection. Let me be clear here; there was no option to set up wireless, it's as if the firmware believed there wasn't a wireless adapter in my PS3. This has been the case since the first time I "recovered" back to 2.80.

After some hunting on the official forums and other gaming sites, I found a guy who said he had experienced the same problem and a system restore had helped. What had I got to lose? I did the system restore from the XMB, restarted my PS3 and went through the initial install again, but this time I could set up a wireless internet connection!

I'm so happy I didn't send my PS3 off to Sony. I've still got my original launch PS3 with Other OS and PS2 BC capabilities if I ever need to use them. I've also got a new 500GB drive on order that should arrive tomorrow, the office has to get its HDD back after all and there's no use sticking with a small drive.

Thanks for reading through this saga, if indeed you did read it as it happened, I hope it'll help someone else if they get into a similar situation.

Now for some Arkham Asylum! :-)
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