How To Fix A Bricked Buffalo / Any Router

In this post, I’ll share information on how to fix a bricked Buffalo router.

Whilst this is meant for Buffalo make, the principle applies to all types of routers.


What Does A Bricked Router Mean?

How To Fix A Bricked Buffalo Router

A bricked router is simply the new state of your device which means, it can no longer work as it should.

This usually happens when a user installs an incorrect firmware and/or the router loses power while and firmware upgrade is in progress.


How To Determine If My Router Is Bricked?

The easiest way to determine if your router is actually bricked is to perform a hard reset.

  1. At the back of your router, there should a be a tiny reset button. Get a paperclip, press the reset button and hold it for 30 seconds. Once this is done, let the lights on your router.
  2. Get an Ethernet cable and connect one of the ends into one of the Local/LAN ports and the other end into your computer.
  3. Open Command prompt on Windows or Terminal on macOS, type in ping followed by your router’s IP address.

e:g: ping 192.168.1.1

4. Your response should be something

Pinging 192.168.1.1 with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 192.168.1.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=64

Reply from 192.168.1.1: bytes=32 time<1ms TTL=64

Reply from 192.168.1.1: bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=64

Reply from 192.168.1.1: bytes=32 time=1ms TTL=64

Ping statistics for 192.168.1.1:

Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),

If you get this kind of response, your router is not bricked. You can type your router’s IP address into a web browser and you should be able to access your router’s admin panel.

However, if you don’t get any response (or timed out), most likely your router is bricked.


Understanding The Unbricking Router process

The Buffalo has a built-in fail-safe, in that for a few seconds after it is switched on, if it is sent a firmware file via TFTP, it will read it and apply it.

Fortunately, this happens before the current firmware is loaded and so can be used even if the current firmware is corrupt (ie bricked).

Many modern systems including Windows, Linux and OSX auto-detect network states, and this makes the following process quite difficult as if your computer is plugged directly into the router.

When you switch the router on, the OS tries to configure the network adapter, this takes a while and by the time it has finished, you have probably missed the short TFTP window and the router will be back in its bricked state.

To get around this, connect an Ethernet hub or dumb switch in between the computer and the target router. I say dumb as you do not want anything interfering with the IP address assignment, so the dumber the better!


How To Unbrick/Fix Buffalo Bricked Router?

Downloading Firmware

Download the correct firmware file from DD-WRT or Buffalo and save it on your computer. It is very important to have the correct file for the EXACT model of router you are using, some routers also vary between hardware revisions, so take your time and make sure you have the correct file.

Configuring Your Computer

Disconnect the computer from the Internet, switch off the wireless and any other networks and plug it into the bricked router, preferably with a dumb switch or hub in between. Make sure that the bricked router is switched off at this point.

Manually set the IP address on your computers Ethernet adapter to 192.168.1.2 with a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0

Getting Router’s MAC Address

You now need to create an ARP (address resolution protocol) entry for the router. Find the MAC address of the router, it should be on the label, for Buffalo devices they call it SSID, but it is actually the Ethernet MAC address.

It will be in the form of six hexadecimal numbers, Example: 002513126A6D, this number is the unique physical address hardcoded on to the Ethernet adapter of the router.

Linking Your Computer & Router

We want to tell the computer that our chosen IP address links to this physical Ethernet port and to do this we use the arp command.

On OSX and Linux the command would be:

arp -s 192.168.1.1 00:25:13:12:6A:6D  (Your router Mac Address)

On Windows the MAC address is separated by hyphens, i.e.:

arp -s 192.168.1.1 00-25-13-12-6A-6D (Your router Mac Address)

Once we have done that, we linked the IP address 192.168.1.1 to the physical device

00:25:13:12:6A:6D

Flashing Your Router

Make sure you have a TFTP client installed on your computer, it comes as standard on OSX but will need to be installed on Window and probably on Linux.

The TFTP client syntax will vary across the different versions, but the principles are the same, start TFTP and connect it to 192.168.1.1, make sure it in binary mode, switch on the router and at the same time, issue the put command to send the firmware, i.e.

put buffalo-to-dd-wrt_webflash-MULTI.bin

(the filename will vary and can be anything, it’s the contents that count!

After 10-30 seconds, your TFTP client should report back saying something like:

Sent XXXXXX bytes in XXXX seconds

Once you get this message, you know that the file has successfully been sent to the router.

Sit Back and Relax

Go and have a cup of tea and take a least 10 minutes. Once you come back, the lights should have changed. They will vary by model but on a Buffalo WHR-G300 V2, this meant that the red diag light was off and not flashing and the green wireless light was on.

Final Steps

Once you see that you can power cycle the router, I would also advise setting the Ethernet adapter on the computer back to DHCP and then reboot the computer. This is just to remove the arp entry, so if you like you can manually delete it with the arp command.

Once the computer comes back up, you should be able to go to the router admin page. That’s it! You’ve unbricked your router.


Having Problems?

If TFTP reports any type of error, the process has failed, so try again.

The most common ones are:

Timeout – TFTP cannot connect to the router, something is wrong in your arp settings or in your physical network configuration, go through everything again and try and find the fault.

It could also be that you missed the TFTP window, you have to issue the put command at the same time you switch on the router, the window is literally a few seconds, so try again.

INCORRECT MODEL – indicating you are using the wrong firmware file for this router, if this happens get the correct file and try again.

If all goes well, ie TFTP reports success but the lights never change (in the case or the WHR-HPG300N this meant diag was just flashing) something has gone wrong with the firmware load.

Double-check that TFTP is in binary mode, you have to set this and it varies by system type, but if you have not explicitly set binary mode, it will not work. If that is correct, then try some different firmware files (for the correct router of course).


Conclusion

Unbricking router can be difficult but if you followed the steps correctly, you should be able to recover your router.

How was your experience? did you managed to unbrick your Buffalo router?


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