What if you bricked your RT-N16 with a firmware upgrade?

Sometimes it happens that you flash your RT-N16 with corrupted firmware and you have a feeling that it is bricked :). Don’t worry, you can still try a few tricks to recover it.

In theory you should do the following:

1. Visit support page and download RT-N16 utilities and latest RT-N16 firmware. You can download them from my site: utilities and latest firmware

2. Install RT-N16 utilities and locate Firmware Restoration utility on your computer

3. Configure your network adapter to use a static IP address 192.168.1.1 and mask 255.255.255.0

4. Disable windows firewall by entering firewall.cpl in command line (this will show firewall applet and you have to disable fw there)

5. Turn off router

6. Leave only one cable in router: which connects port 1 of router with your PC.

7. Hold Reset button using some sharp tool (don’t release button!) and turn on router by plugging in power cable while holding Reset button. Notice power led is slowly blinking. Release Reset button.

8. Now run Asus Firmware Restoration Utility, specify path to Asus firmware (you can use firmware 1.0.2.3 from my blog) and click Upload

9. Firmware Restoration utility should find router and upload firmware.

This is theory. In practice, however, it did not work for me. I was doing these steps and Firmware Restoration Utility failed to detect my router, giving the message “device is not in rescue mode”. After fighting several hours I decided to do two desperate things:

1. Switch off router for 15 minutes and let it rest ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Set adapter IP to 192.168.0.1 instead of 192.168.1.1

After this everything worked like a charm. I hope these observations will be useful for someone.

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72 Comments

    • Hello.

      Trying my PC at 0.1 and 1.1 I can get my RT-16n into recovery mode and use the firmware restoration utility. It executes successfully using standard Asus firmware. I get nothing after that, I cannot connect to the router.

      I was absolutely giddy when the firmware update progress bar was moving along!

      Any ideas? I cannot get the discovery app to actually see the router.

      I’d love to get this going again. It is a nice router.

      thanks all, Bj

      • hi, Yes the router can be brought back to life. first you need to disassemble and pull out the card, on the reverse side of the Board will be a microcontroller with a pin 56. connected router to PC via LAN1, turn on the power to the router and closable 14 output circuits to earth, he is responsible for the reset of the microcontroller. after that, the router immediately switches to the recovery mode and you can flash a standard recovery. success!

  1. If you get the “Device is not in rescue mode” error, another option is to unplug the router, and then hold down the WPS button while plugging it back in. After a few seconds, unplug the router, and then hold down “Restore” while plugging it back in. This puts the device in recovery mode, and then I was able to avoid the “device is not in rescue mode” error.

      • You are both are correct. 192.168.0.1 trick and (and others) weren’t working for me. Couldn’t ping router as other suggested.

        So I change PC IP 192.168.1.2 and was able to ping the router at the 192.168.1.1 but kept getting ‘not in recovery mode’ message.

        So I change PC’s network adapter to 192.168.1.1 and I got the generic IP address conflict message in Win 7… but when I used the recovery tool it finally worked. Not sure if this factored, but I did do the WPS, then Reset button suggestion.

        +1 to the tally and thanks much Volodymyr for starting this conversation.

  2. Thanks for this, it was helpful, however like other people my method was different as well. I did a 30-30-30 but kept holding the reset button (so it was more like 30-30-100 lol) until the file was uploaded.

    • Oh, and I also used the latest version of their firmware. It is very stable and I will not be switching to DD-WRT… been using DD-WRT for years! The nice thing is that Asus has stuck with this and continued to update the firmware even though DD-WRT was a better option for a long time. They’ve fixed a lot of bugs based on their changelogs.

  3. I flashed my RT-n16 which was running Tomato with a DD-WRT firmware. Bad idea… apparently you should always revert to the stock ASUS FW before switching.

    Needless to say the flash from tomato to DD-WRT did not take. The device was bricked…

    I spent a few hours trying every configuration… plugging/unplugging the power to the router while holding the recovery button and attempting to recover with the asus rescue utility… I even tried different firmwares etc.

    Luckily I found your post, set static ip to 192.1.168.0.10 instead of 192.168.1.10 (as in the asus documentation) and boom, the restore fired right up.

    Thank you sir! You saved my day.

  4. After flashing TomatoUSB and ending with a brick, nothing works, just flashing power light when router plugged back in. Trying your method here to flash RT-N16_3.0.0.4_260.trx Finds router, goes through loading, then says “Auto system recovery is in progress…”, gets to 99% and hangs, then after a few minutes says “Failed to contact wireless device! Please check the light signals to see if the system recovery is still in”, only light on router is the LAN cable from my PC. Any ideas what to do next? Thx.

    • Exact same problem here. Tried the different suggestions on this page, but nothing works. I can ping the router at 192.168.1.1 while the power light is flashing, but after uploading the firmware (any, even the stock from asus) the pinging stops at 2%, the upload continues though, makes it to 100%, then when waiting for the recovery progress, it crashes and gives the same error.

      Guess i’ll be rma’ing this… sigh.

  5. I kept trying to put TomatoUSB on 2 Asus RT-N16 units. Every time it would fail. I was able to get one, but not the other. The fix? I hit the WPS button while inserting the power. I can confirm that I had to do this before it would accept a firmware update…even stock Asus firmware.

  6. After attempting to upload Tomato firmware to my Asus RT-N16 it became unresponsive. I tried all of the methods on this page with no success. Finally out of desperation I tried a 30-30-30 reset using the WPS button instead of the Restore button and voila I could access the tomato firmware. Hope this helps someone.

  7. Add one more saved RT-N16 to the list. As far as I can decipher, it was a combination of:
    IP: 192.168.1.10
    Poweroff for 30 sec, keep holding Restore while new firmware is flashed
    Press the Upload button quite early in the boot sequence of the router

    A huge thank you to the post and all comments, was able to piece together the solution with your help!

  8. Did not work for me. I have an RT-AC66U and the firmware restoration tool says “Failed to recover the system.” after it uploads the firmware 100%. I tried stock firmware and merlin (which is a modified stock version). IP is set to 192.168.0.10.

    When holding WPS down, power light flashes fast and it seems to not boot while the button is pressed. Once relesed, it boots into restore mode (slow power flash). Holding reset/restore down does not make a difference.

  9. Make that 9 recovered?
    I had to do the power off, power up while holding WPS ( 10 seconds), power off, power on while holding reset until slow blink, then upload file.
    Took short time to upload, then about 5 minutes for that to “process”.. which I think means to flash the firmware file.

    Thanks!

  10. The file provided here uploads but when system recovery completes it says it can’t detect the router as it appears to be in rescue mode. It is as it is blinking slowly.

    I don’t know how to change the adapter IP in windows 8 to try that recommended step.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

  11. Finally found some directions….

    Is the IP address supposed to be changed prior to recovery?

    Use the following IP:
    IP address 192.168.0.15
    Subnet mask 255.255.255.0
    Default gateway 192.168.0.1

    Use the following DNS server addresses 192.168.0.150

    Thoughts?

  12. make that one more the ip made the difference i was using 192.168.1.10 as oppose to 192.168.1.1 (the router ip)
    and finely could see the router, next for the failing to start the recovery i held the reset button in-till the recovery was 3% read that in the dd-wrt site.
    Thank you for the help and info

  13. Thanks for your guide.. though I’m still struggling to get my old N16 rolling again

    I can load the firmware onto the router just fine, and the restoration program says it has successfully restored the router. However, the blue power light on the router just continues blinking fast after the recovery, and it never stops blinking even overnight. I can’t get into the web GUI, nor do any of the regular functions of the router work

    Did I do something wrong? Or is mine really busted?

    I got an Asus N66u to replace it with a long time ago, but I still think the N16 is one of the best-performing wireless routers on the market, and it’d be a nice range extender for me.

  14. I tried the above named steps. I always get the message ‘router not in rescue mode’, when the powerlight is clearly indicating that the router is in rescue mode. Any further ideas?

    • I had the same problem initially when attempting to use 192.168.0.1 on my computer. For some that seems to work, but for me, the trick was using 192.168.1.1 for my PC’s IP and then using the recovery tool.

      Hope that helps.

  15. I have upload the firmware and it give me the ip 192.168.1.2.
    But when I try to log on 192.168.1.2 on web page, keep me asking user and password. I have try
    user: admin
    password: admin

    and many others usernames and passowrds without success ๐Ÿ™

    please, anyone help me…

  16. Chalk another one up.

    Originally had no problems following instructions to upload the firmware, but after the progress bar finally reached 99% of the “automated system recovery”, it showed message “failed to contact wireless device! please check the light signals to see if device is still in recovery mode”. (Which it was – the power LED was doing the slow blink of recovery mode).

    Did both WPS button and the extra voodoo of keeping Restore button pressed throughout the upload which was mentioned in another comment ( Ellen, August 5, 2013 at 01:27 ), and this time during the recovery part the power LED stopped blinking and turned steady, and the tomato came up good.

    Thanks!

  17. RT-N16 bricked w dd-wrt. I tried much of the above. What worked:

    PC set to 192.168.1.2, default GW 192.168.1.1, no DNS

    Hold down WPS while plugging in power. continue holding WPS (power light should be rapidly flashing), unplug power
    Hold down restore, plug in power. Continue holding until eth1 lights, release
    Hit Upload button on the utility. Wait for restore to complete
    Put 192.168.1.1 in your browser and you should get the initial setup wizard

    Thanks all above. YMMV but this worked for me!

  18. Another successful restore (PC on 192.168.1.10, router on 192.168.1.1; first WPS boot, then Restore boot and starting the restore using the utility). It took a couple of attempts but eventually the restore exited successfully.

  19. Hi,

    Well, i have to say that i’ve tried several hours too and i couldn’t get ping from the router…
    After I’ve gathered all informations from all websites I’ve put them together and i’ve succeeded in the following way:
    Download and install the tftp2.exe program to your desktop.

    1. Configure the PC’s ethernet adapter to IP addr = 192.168.1.2 and Net Mask = 255.255.255.0 and leave the other fields blank.
    2. Disconnect power from the router. Wait 5 seconds. Press and hold the WPS button and restore power. After 5 seconds release the button.
    3. Execute the tftp2.exe program. Type 192.168.1.1 in the Server field. Leave the Password field blank. Put the location of the DD-WRT firmware in the File field. Set the Retry counter to 20.
    4. Click on Upgrade.
    5. Disconnect power from the router. Wait 5 seconds. Press and hold the Reset button and restore power. After 5 seconds release the button.
    6. After the tftp2 program indicates a successful upload, WAIT 4 MINUTES for the router to write the firmware to flash memory
    7. Disconnect power from the router and after 5 seconds reconnect.

    And you are done!

    • Thanks Florin, your answer helped. I tried all the stuff mentioned above (different IPs, WPS button, etc). What finally worked was using the tftp2 app which I’ve used for flashing Netgear routers in the past. I set it to 20 retries, chose my img, and kept restarting the router until it worked. I’m not sure what’s going on with my router, it’s brand new – right outta the box. I’ve flashed several routers before (many times from recovery mode) and this one is the first one that doesn’t seem to give me any time to do it. It slow flashes for about 3 or 4 flashes then seems to boot up like normal. Once I had tftp2 retrying over and over, I just pulled out the power, held down Restore, and powered up again and did that a couple times til it worked.

      The other thing that is worth mentioning: my limited time in recovery mode seemed to be true when it was flashing too (once I got your method to work). I originally tried doing Tomato AIO (all in one) and its about 20 megs. It would constantly fail around 80-90%. Once I changed it to the smaller VPN version – around 7.5 megs – it worked right away.

  20. Thanks a lot for the instructions! Here are my remarks on how I managed to revive my ASUS RT-16N router.

    I read a lot and was really frustrated, because after trying to flash the newest ASUS stock firmware (quite large image) with the stock tool. Most probaby I did not wait long enough to flash correctly. After reapplying power the device just started directly into recovery mode (slowly blinking power led) and did not accept any firmware with the stock tool. If your router does not directly go into recovery, use the tips from the other posts to force it to do so. I let a day pass by after many frustrating tries with different vodoo with the buttons.

    Today I reconnected it to power, it went into recovery and I used a switch to connect the router to a pc, set the pc to the static ip 192.168.1.2 (any from this subnet >1 will probably do), Netmask 255.255.255.0. This all took time, which does not seem to be a problem. The router patiently waits for the image to be transferred.

    In recovery mode the router awaits a tftp-transmission unter ip 192.168.1.1. Use the small tftp2.exe (40k), set server to above ip, no password and point it to the firmware. I used easy tomato 0.8. The transfer is really quick and succeded on the first attempt. After a short while the blinking power light goes out. Now do not forget to let it sit and wait, since the image was just transferred to the 128mb of ram. It needs to be flashed, that takes time and interrupting the power during the process provokes havoc. I disconnected the ethernet cable and the powered router sat on my desk without any lights and I waited for 25 Minutes to be sure. After that I power cycled and all the lights came up, even WiFi afer a while. Done.

    Thanks a lot again to all people who described what they did to revive their routers.

  21. One addition to florins post:

    Make sure you wait for a long time (like my 25 Minutes) between steps 4 (Upgrade) + 5 (Disconnect power) in his post .

    The router needs some time to flash the image! Mine did not show the power led during that time.

  22. I had another go at trying to recover my old N16, and I just can’t get my POS to work.

    I can get into recovery mode, I can get into the CFE menu via serial, I can clear the nvram, I can load in new firmwares, even the asus utility tool works just fine. However, I always get the same error message after a firmware upgrade. This is the serial log of the firmware upgrade loading in RT-N16_1.0.2.3.trx:

    Reading :: TFTP Server.
    TFTP_BLKLEN!!
    Done. 8634368 bytes read
    Download of 0x83c000 bytes completed
    Write kernel and filesystem binary to FLASH (0xbfc20000)
    Programming…
    copysize=8634368, amtcopy=8634368
    done. 8634368 bytes written

    BCM47XX SYSTEM RESET!!!
    โ–’

    CFE version 1.0.37 for BCM947XX (32bit,SP,LE)
    Build Date: โ–’T 5โ–’โ–’ 27 16:47:24 CST 2009 (root@localhost.localdomain)
    Copyright (C) 2000-2008 Broadcom Corporation.

    Init Arena
    Init Devs.
    Boot partition size = 262144(0x40000)
    et0: Broadcom BCM47XX 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet Controller 5.10.56.3
    CPU type 0x19740: 480MHz
    Tot mem: 131072 KBytes

    CFE mem: 0x80700000 – 0x8079B310 (635664)
    Data: 0x80731B30 – 0x80734880 (11600)
    BSS: 0x80734880 – 0x80735310 (2704)
    Heap: 0x80735310 – 0x80799310 (409600)
    Stack: 0x80799310 – 0x8079B310 (8192)
    Text: 0x80700000 – 0x80731B30 (203568)

    Device eth0: hwaddr 20-CF-30-C6-32-A3, ipaddr 192.168.1.1, mask 255.255.255.0
    gateway not set, nameserver not set
    Null Rescue Flag.
    Wait until reset button released…
    _________________________________

    AND THEN NOTHING. Just fast-blinking power light. I suspect it’s just a hardware fault. The error message “Wait until reset button released” does not give any google results at all apart from one Russian guy with the exact same problem. Anyone has any clues?

    • Okay I am happy to say I fixed my own problem.

      “Wait until reset button released” means the router is waiting for the WPS button to be released. The system pauses until the button is released. This makes no sense if you’re not pressing the button. I measured the resistance across the reset button, which is approximately 50k ohm when not pressed and 0 ohm when pressed. My WPS button measured 10 ohm when not pressed and 0 ohm when pressed. That does not seem right. I physically desoldered the WPS button, measured the resistance between the terminals on the PCB, and it read 50k ohm.. so.. MY WPS BUTTON WAS BROKEN, WHICH BRICKED MY ROUTER. After removal of the wps button, the system was able to start up successfully and it’s running dd-wrt right now.

      Never in my life would I have suspected a wps microswitch to be the culprit of a bricked Asus N16. Also, never in my life would I consider a microswitch to fail. Capacitors go bad, but microswitches??

      • Just wanted to chime in to thank you for reporting your solution to the “Wait until reset button released” issue, as this is exactly what happened to my RT-N16 too. Turned out desoldering the otherwise seemingly fine WPS switch did unbrick the router indeed. I too would’ve never thought that this was the culprit, haha.

  23. hi i cant go to tomato browser page ..before restore i can go by 192.168.1.1 this add…but after 30/30/30 reset cant go to the page and cant use also my RT-n16 router ..Please somebody help me.Thanks

  24. Hey thanks for the wonderful info. Was able to unbrick my router and install earlier version of firmware. In the newest firmware Download Manager was not working. Made my life such a bad mess; until I found this post.

    Cheers

  25. Thanks a bunch! I had to do the WPS button too, and it worked with IP adress 192.168.0.10 for me, maybe because I use 192.168.0.1 as the router’s IP. My RT-N16 bricked because I installed the latest beta firmware. I still could use it but I wasn’t able to change any settings as the web interface was like in a buggy state… Thanks again!

  26. Hi, i try to install last update to my asus rt n16 , everything look ok , but went I restart I lost
    Almost all interface ,I don’t see all option on the side, what I can do ?
    Thank you

  27. Disclamer: use it at your own risk. If your router becomes broken you will not receive any support.

    Install this ASUS Firmware Restoration version 2.0.0.0 http://[link removed] and flash the older official firmware here http://[link removed] using the same method used in this guide… I think. I’Va had the same problem too, but it’s been a while so I’m not a 100% sure but I’m pretty sure it’s pretty much the same. I remember I had to play with the IP adress becaue I had change the default 192.168.1.0 to 192.168.0.1. And remember to never install the latest version (3.0.0.4.378.4850), wich is BETA by the way, on this router… it bricks it!

    Administration comment: Please note that I do not grantee that links which are published here by other users are safe. Use it at your own risk and do not blame the administration of this blog is your router became broken.

    I personally think that the best way to get a firmware is from a reputable web-site and you should never trust any users from a less popular sites (including my blog).

  28. Disclamer: use it at your own risk. If your router becomes broken you will not receive any support.

    Oops, my mistake, the first link is NOT THE GOOD PROGRAM! Here’s the one you need :

    http://[link removed]

    Sorry!

    Administration comment: Please note that I do not grantee that links which are published here by other users are safe. Use it at your own risk and do not blame the administration of this blog is your router became broken.

    I personally think that the best way to get a firmware is from a reputable web-site and you should never trust any users from a less popular sites (including my blog).

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