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Netgear Router Won’t Update Firmware/Update Problem

Back of a router with antennas up

It’s easy to overlook that routers get firmware updates. These updates are not brought to people’s attention, but are important and should be checked on periodically. Firmware updates can be done through Netgear’s Nighthawk app, but sometimes the router simply refuses to do it. What should you do in this instance?

If your Netgear router is connected to the Internet, but won’t update its firmware, factory reset the router and turn off auto-updates. In same cases, the auto-update feature is the culprit, and can soft-brick the router, causing it to not function as it should.

This is an odd issue, but one that some people encounter. There are several other issues related to a Netgear router not updated and this article will go over some troubleshooting tips.

Netgear Router Stopped Working After Firmware Update

Router on a wooden table

Sometimes a firmware update can “break” a router. The most common issue resulting from this is a WiFi signal failing to broadcast. Considering most folks rely on the Internet in their daily lives, this is a very serious problem.

The first thing to doing is to reset the router to its factory settings. Doing this is very simple. Here are the official Netgear router factory reset instructions:

  1. Verify that your router’s power light is on.
  2. On the back of your router, locate the Restore Factory Settings or Reset button.
  3. Use a paper clip or similar object to press and hold the Restore Factory Settings or Reset button for seven seconds.
  4. Release the Restore Factory Settings or Reset button.
  5. Your router resets.

From there, follow the setup process that you did when you first got the router.

After the router has been reset to factory default settings, follow the setup process you went through when you first got the device.

Why do a factory reset? New firmware can introduce changes that are not compatible with an old configuration. By doing a factory reset, you wipe out user-enabled settings that might be in conflict with the new firmware.

You can also power cycle the router by shutting off all devices connected to it. Unplug both the router (remove the backup battery if it has one) and modem. Then wait 2 minutes for all the power to discharge before plugging everything back in. Restart all your devices and wait for the modem to establish a connection to your ISP.

Netgear Router Won’t Update Firmware

A man plugging in an Ethernet cable into the back port of a router

Normally, you should be able to update your router’s firmware from either the Nighthawk app or a Web browser. However, some people experience an issue where their router fails to update its firmware during the process.

It’s entirely possible that Netgear released a bad firmware that some routers can’t get past. We’ve ventured through the official community forums, and this indeed does happen to some people.

But before jumping to conclusions and requesting a replacement, try to downgrade your router’s firmware. To do this:

  1. Visit the support page and navigate to the corresponding section that your router falls in.
  2. If you have a standard router, click on “WiFi Routers.”
  3. If it’s an Orbi mesh system, click “Orbi WiFi System“; if it’s a Nighthawk WiFi System, click “Nighthawk WiFi System.”

From there, navigate to your specific model and click on downloads. How do you find what your model is? Underneath or behind the router, you’ll find Model: model number. It’s on the same side where the default password is printed.

Click on DOWNLOADS, then Previous Versions, select an older firmware version and download. The install instructions will be in the release notes, which are different for each router model.

Netgear Router Firmware Upgrade No Internet Connection

A man with a laptop trying to configure a router that is beside him

If your router isn’t connecting to the Internet after a firmware upgrade, similar problems and solutions apply to an earlier section in this article.

You may need to factory reset the router if you aren’t getting a connection. The reason being that new firmware can clash with settings that the user used.

here are the official instructions to factory reset the router from Netgear themselves:

  1. Verify that your router’s Power light is on.
  2. On the back of your router, locate the Restore Factory Settings or Reset button.
  3. Use a paper clip or similar object to press and hold the Restore Factory Settings or Reset button for seven seconds.
  4. Release the Restore Factory Settings or Reset button.
  5. Your router resets.

How To Fix Corrupted Firmware on Netgear Router

A man plugging in a Ethernet cable into a port in the back of a router

If you have what is essentially a bricked router, don’t panic, this can be solved easily in most cases.

  1. Refer to above, where we discussed how to found your router’s firmware version. This time you’ll want to download the latest version.
  2. Next, download the TFTP client software. That’s the Windows link; here is the link for Mac. If you are reading this on your smartphone’s cell tower data, you will need to plug your computer into the router directly with a LAN cable.
  3. Assign a static IP of the router’s default range, which is either 192.168.1.x or 192.168.0.x.
  4. Ping your router’s IP.
  5. Run the tftp2.exe.
  6. In the server field, punch in the default IP of the router.
  7. Shut off the router for 10 seconds and turn it back on.
  8. While the router is booting, click Upgrade and allow the process to complete.
  9. The power light should be a steady green now; in that case, the fresh firmware is successfully installed!

How Do I Reinstall Firmware on My Netgear Router?

Man configuring a router using a smartphone app

Refer to the section where we instructed on how to download the correct firmware for your router. If you were already on the latest firmware but just need to reinstall it, you can do it via the browser, provided the router isn’t corrupted. From Netgear’s website:

  1. Unzip the downloaded file if needed.
  2. Enter routerlogin.net into a web browser.
  3. Enter the router admin username and password.
  4. The default user name is admin. The password is the one you specified the first time you logged in. The user name and password are case-sensitive.
  5. Select ADVANCED > Administration or Settings > Administration.
  6. Select Firmware Update or Router Update.

What if My Router Is Hard Bricked?

The back ports of a router

Hard bricking refers to a rendered completely useless device and cannot be restored via conventional methods. This may happen if there is a power outage while the router is updating its firmware, and this scenario can happen to almost any device where you would update the firmware, such as a smartphone or game console.

Your router comes with a one-year warranty that needs to be registered with 90 days of purchase, but unfortunately, a hard-bricked device due to a power outage or disconnection isn’t covered.

From the official warranty page:

“This warranty does not apply if the NETGEAR product fails due to damage from shipment, handling, storage, accident, abuse or misuse, or if it has been used or maintained in a manner not conforming to product manual instructions, has been modified in any way, or has had any serial number removed or defaced.”

There is hope, however. Some retail stores have a very pro-consumer refund policy, and you may be able to get a refund or replacement if you got your router there. Amazon is also quite forgiving most of the time.

If you had an old router and were considering upgrading anyway, you might be wondering what your best options are. It depends, but generally, you don’t need a crazy $300+ model. We recommend looking for a model that supports WiFi 6 since more and more devices are beginning to utilize it, and it does make a big difference.

The Netgear 4-Steam strikes a good balance between performance and price and should be suitable for most homes. Alternatively, a mesh WiFi system such as the Netgear Nighthawk Mesh System might be better if your home is large. We’ve linked a video below for even more suggestions:

Final Thoughts

Having any problems with a router can be frustrating since it allows people to connect to the vast world of the internet. Many people don’t use ethernet, and thus it is quite a big deal when your router is rendered useless due to broken firmware. However, with some troubleshooting and fixing, you should be able to get it up and running again!