A PlayStation 3 receives system updates from Sony. The console is vulnerable to bricking during the update process, meaning it is rendered completely unusable, especially if you lose power while the system is adding the update to its operating system. After the PlayStation 3 bricks, you can identify whether it is completely nonfunctional or whether you are dealing with a hardware issue at the same time.
Bricking in a PlayStation 3 is caused by an issue with the system's firmware. The PlayStation's bricking scenario occurs during system and firmware updates. If the power goes out, the user removes power from the system or another situation occurs where the PlayStation 3 loses power, the update is not applied completely. If the firmware is only partially written to the console, it may not work correctly. Firmware controls the hardware's function, so if the firmware is corrupted, the console does not have instructions to operate its hardware -- and thus bricks.
A bricked PlayStation 3 displays several different characteristics. The device may power on but does not output any video or audio data. Some bricked PS3s are unable to power on at all and flash the green power light once before turning off. The user is unable to pair wireless peripherals, such as controllers or headsets, to the console unit. If the device powers on, the PlayStation cannot read any discs that you insert in the drive. If the console is bricked, it exhibits these symptoms even if you remove all peripherals and the hard drive from the PlayStation.
If your PlayStation 3 does not power on and a power loss has not occurred during a firmware update, then the console has a different error The PlayStation may be overheating, indicated by a brief yellow flash before a flashing red light during startup. Hardware components such as the hard drive may have failed, or the PlayStation 3 isn't completely connected to the power adapter. If the console boots up and it is partially usable, the problem is with another part of the PlayStation and not with the firmware.
Sony repairs bricked PlayStation 3s under warranty coverage or for $150 dollars if the console's warranty has expired. If your PlayStation 3 is still capable of booting into recovery mode, you may be able to flash the firmware manually to overwrite the problems caused by the power loss. This fix is not possible if the console refuses to boot up at all, however.
Tiffany Garden has been a freelance writer since 2002, working in the commercial copywriting field. She has been published in a number of technical and gaming magazines, as well as on numerous websites. She also runs her own websites on a number of subjects, runs a handcrafted jewelry business and is a CompTIA A+ Certified computer technician.