Technology & Science

Sony warns against using PlayStation 3

Sony says a glitch has knocked PlayStation 3 users off the game console's online network, and data loss could occur if gamers continue using the machines.

Glitch puts data in peril

Sony says a glitch has knocked PlayStation 3 users off the game console's online network, and the company warned Monday that data loss could occur if gamers continued using the machines.

Sony said in a blog post that the problem was likely caused by a bug in the clock functionality incorporated in the system, reminiscent of the Y2K bug a decade ago. The problem is affecting older PlayStation 3 units, but not the newest slim version that went on sale in September.

The company urged customers not to use the older PlayStation 3 systems until the problem is resolved, warning that doing so could cause errors and make it impossible to record gaming achievements and restore some data.

Sony would not say how many users were affected by the problem, which comes just as PlayStation 3 sales are picking up. According to the NPD Group, 276,900 units of the system were sold in January in the United States, up from 203,200 a year earlier and following Christmas-season U.S. sales of 1.4 million in December.

Errors that PS3 users started seeing Sunday included the date of the systems being reset to Jan. 1, 2000.

The problem was reminiscent of the Y2K bug, in which programming shortcuts caused some computers to malfunction in the new millennium because they interpreted "00" as the year 1900. Although fears of a mass computer meltdown weren't realized, hiccups were reported around the world.

Other problems resulting from the Sony glitch can include an error message saying the user has been logged out of the online game network. Users' game trophies — their accomplishments — can also disappear.

Sony said Monday that it hoped to resolve the glitch within 24 hours.

Sony is not the first to deal with a Y2K-like bug years after 2000. At the end of 2008, thousands of Microsoft's Zune media players unexpectedly crashed, prompting references to "Y2K for Zunes." Microsoft said the failures, which affected only 30-gigabyte Zune models, were caused by a problem with their internal clock.