Alright so I purchased a PS3 80gb backwards compatible system around 2008. Several months ago it crapped out on me and I am finally getting around to asking why now. I dont think its the hard drive as i have tried 2 different ones a 60 and an 80gb. What usually happends is that I turn it on, a green or yellow (sorry i'm color defficient so its hard to tell) and a blue light come on in the front. Everything loads properly, it isnt slow, it doesnt sound like it is about to explode. When i put a game in and start it up it reads that there is a game in the drive, but it eventually freezes. The entire system does not lock up or anything, i can still access the menu through the ps3 button but the game just freezes on what ever screen happend to be there. Anyone run into this issue before, and if so how much did it cost to fix?
Have you tried a DVD movie? Same issue? I had to replace the BD-ROM a few months back due to my 3 year old sticking an SD card in to the drive. It was a mechanical issue which caused it to not play anything at all.
Before you spend any money, have you tried restoring the file system, or starting from scratch? Perhaps there is a system file(s) that is corrupt and causing all of this nastiness. Check this link out:
here's some more things to look at
like brandoncatz said, can you play dvd/bd movies off of it? music cds? ps1 disks? If so, then you can safely assume that your optical drive is working. try borrowing a bd movie from a friend or from redbox/blockbuster since this is the closest format similar to a ps3 game
can you play digital content such as music, movies, or downloadable games (not-dlcs) from the harddrive? If so, then you can assume your harddrive is working and the major components are ok with lighter loads. If you were unable to play digital content, maybe the harddrive is corrupted or maybe they weren't formatted correctly since you did say that you swap them back and forth.
any abnormal heat comming from your system? maybe it's overheating. try playing with an external fan blowing on it
does the crashes occur on a consistent time for each game? maybe for one game it always crashes on the save/load screen? this might indicate an hdd read/write problem. maybe it always crashes on gpu heavy animations? might indicate a gpu problem. does it crash when it tries to sign into psn? might indicate a network problem. If you can find a more consistent symptom then you should be able to more easily pinpoint the problem.
any differences between an older and a newer game? maybe newer games crash sooner than older ones? newer games tend to be more "flashy" and "high-tech" than older ones which might also indicate than newer games take up a bit more resource than older games