How to unbrick a Linksys Router.

Over the weekend, I was at my girlfriends place, and she was having issues with one of her computers with it’s wireless connection. The computer would lose it’s connection at random times. So I thought it’s either with the DHCP leasing times or maybe the firmware of the router needs an update because of the usb wireless device she’s using with the computer in question. I noticed she had an older firmware, so I figured, let me update that. Well, someone it got bricked in the process. The router was unresponsive, and had a blinking power light, and could not be pinged. Man I was pissed.

I did some reading online, and came across various solutions, some included voiding the warranty by shorting the circuit. Yeah, not going to void the warranty on this. I did try the other tricks, about holding reset for 30 seconds.

There was even one that said I should hook up the router to a switch, and connect my computer to the switch to try and use the tftp method to upload the firmware. Something about this I later figured out didn’t make sense. The article stated that you can’t connect directly to the router because by the time it turns on it’s internal switch, it will be on the firmware you are trying to replace. Yeah makes sense, but I realized that going through the step of using a switch to connect my router and computer made no sense because the router was connected to the switch with it’s own ports, so that was useless.

Long story short, I stumbled upon (not referring to the stumblupon website) a trick to get it into some Firmware Management Recovery Mode. I’ve never heard of this before, and all the links I say for “debricking routers” had nothing about this anywhere. Most had some tricks of using this custom JTAG cable. Well, I managed to get into this special mode, uploaded the firmware, which it said upgraded successfully. I unplugged the router, and plugged it back in, and guess what, it worked! It even kept the admin password I had set before it got bricked.

The trick to make this work is

  • hold down the reset button for about 30 seconds, then unplug the device, while you are still holding down the reset button.
  • leave unplugged for about 5 seconds, while you are still holding down the reset button.
  • plug the unit back in, while you are still holding down the reset button.
  • after about 5 seconds, let go off the reset button.
  • go to the webpage of the router.
  • you should see the special mode.

2 thoughts on “How to unbrick a Linksys Router.

  1. Some more steps where necessary for me. I bricked the device with update from dd-wrt to openwrt (blinking power). De-brick with debian linux (my Notebook.-) with console
    copy the firmware from dd-wrt to ~ (/root:-) {cp filename /root/firmware.bin} then
    1.) ifconfig eth0 down 2.) ifconfig eth0 192.168.1.2 netmask 255.255.255.0
    3.)ifconfig eth0 up 4.) tftp (now you are in tftp console all /R means return button!) verbose/R mode binary/R timeout/R 30/R connect 192.168.1.1 69/R put/R {on console: file:} firmware.bin {now power plug the wrt}/R {now you should see: Send … bytes}. {power down and now
    * hold down the reset button for about 30 seconds, then unplug the device, while you are still holding down the reset button.
    * leave unplugged for about 5 seconds, while you are still holding down the reset button.
    * plug the unit back in, while you are still holding down the reset button.
    * after about 5 seconds, let go off the reset button.
    * go to the webpage of the router.
    * you should see the special mode. (for me it was the stat web page from dd-wrt POWER WAS STILL BLINKING!!! after setting user passwort blinking was gone !

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