Restore AppleTV OS – Ridiculously easy
You have to follow 3 basic steps and have a little bit of patience … and really, it couldn’t get any easier.
This method is based on you downloading the entire image first and write it to a USB stick, which will use to boot and restore you AppleTV with.
This trick worked for my AppleTV even after I had replaced the harddrive with an SSD, but you milage may vary.
This guide is only to be used to restore AppleTV OS with a FIRST GENERATION AppleTV – i.e. the silver one, not the black one!
The 1st Generation AppleTV
Step 1 – Download the AppleTV Restore Image
You can download either AppleTV OS v2.3.1 or v3.0.2, depending on your needs. I usually restore v3.
You can download the files from Tweaking4All or from the OpenElec Wiki.
After downloading the desired file, you should have a ZIP file.
DOWNLOAD - AppleTV OS Restore IMG (v3)
Direct reference link: https://www.tweaking4all.com/downloads/factoryrestore-3.0.2.img.zip
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DOWNLOAD - AppleTV OS Restore IMG (v2)
Direct reference link: https://www.tweaking4all.com/downloads/factoryrestore-2.3.1.img.zip
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Step 2 – Writing the Image to an USB Stick
In this step we will write a Restore Image for your AppleTV OS to an USB Stick.
For this purpose you should have at least a 1 Gb USB Stick, but any size larger than that will work just fine.
Windows users will first have to decompress the .ZIP file to get the .IMG file.
A tool like 7Zip, WinRar or WinZip can do this for you.
After decompression you should have either a 536,870,912 bytes IMG file (for both versions!).
Once unzipped, use a tool like Win32 Disk Imager to restore the IMG file to your USB stick.
Download it from the SourceForge Page (recommended) or directly from Tweaking4All.
DOWNLOAD - Win32diskimager
Direct reference link: https://www.tweaking4all.com/downloads/win32diskimager-v0.9-binary.zip
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After downloading Win32 Disk Imager, start it and click the folder icon to select the .IMG file (Image File).
Next select the proper drive (Device) and when you’re very sure about your choices, click “Write“.
CAUTION: Make sure you selected the correct drive, since it will be completely overwritten!!
This process will take a little bit, and once complete proceed to Step 3.
Win32 Disk Imager – Writing an IMG file
Linux users will have to decompress the .ZIP file to get to the .IMG file first.
The following command-line statement does just that (using “factoryrestore3.img.zip” as an example):
After decompression you should have a 536,870,912 bytes IMG file (for both versions!).
Next step is to identify your USB Stick under Linux, which I always found rather cumbersome. There are several methods, including the
mount statement, the
lsusb -v statement and the
dmesg statement. More info can be found on the Internet, for example at SuperUser.com and Known-issues.net.
None of those I really liked, and under my Ubuntu setup the following worked better and easier:
On my (virtual) machine this produces something like this (the output and the device name can be different on your machine):
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 9 Apr 4 16:57 ata-Ubuntu_13__32bit_-0_SSD_ZASYTHJXX3YMXAFMGRSB -> ../../sda
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Apr 4 16:57 ata-Ubuntu_13__32bit_-0_SSD_ZASYTHJXX3YMXAFMGRSB-part1 -> ../../sda1
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Apr 4 16:57 ata-Ubuntu_13__32bit_-0_SSD_ZASYTHJXX3YMXAFMGRSB-part2 -> ../../sda2
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Apr 4 16:57 ata-Ubuntu_13__32bit_-0_SSD_ZASYTHJXX3YMXAFMGRSB-part5 -> ../../sda5
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 9 Apr 4 16:57 ata-Virtual_DVD-ROM__1__-_31415B265 -> ../../sr0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 9 May 25 08:08 usb-Lexar_USB_Flash_Drive_AAJHWTC45P2TPINQ-0:0 -> ../../sdb
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 May 25 08:08 usb-Lexar_USB_Flash_Drive_AAJHWTC45P2TPINQ-0:0-part1 -> ../../sdb1
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 May 25 08:08 usb-Lexar_USB_Flash_Drive_AAJHWTC45P2TPINQ-0:0-part2 -> ../../sdb2
Since I know that my USB Stick is a Lexar, you will see right that the main device is called “sdb” (line 6 – highlighted). This is the device we need – do not pick one of the partitions (sbd1, sdb2, etc). We need the root device!
The proper name (path) for this device would be “/dev/sdb” (add “/dev/” in front of the device you found).
Tip: Once you determine which is the USB drive, remove it and run the same statement again to see if the drive actually disappeared from the list.
Once determined which one is your USB Stick, we will need to use
dd to restore the IMG file to the USB Stick.
CAUTION : This will wipe the entire device, so make absolutely sure you’ve chosen the right device!
dd bs=4m if=factoryrestore3.img of=/dev/usbdrive
Where you will need to replace the “factoryrestore3.img” with the filename of the IMG file you’re using, and “/dev/usbdrive” with the device of the USB drive you wanted. In some cases you might need to run this with
dd in front of the example code. Your Admin password will be asked before proceeding.
To make the process faster: use the raw device of the USB Stick.
This is done by adding an “r” (R) in front of the USB Device name.
– “/dev/usbdrive” becomes “/dev/rusbdrive”
– “/dev/sdb” becomes “/dev/rsdb“.
The process will take a little bit. Once done, eject the USB drive properly and continue with Step 3 …
Apple users will have it much easier – no decompression needed.
A small application I created for Raspberry Pi users, called ApplePi-Baker, can be used for this purpose (as pointed out by Jan).
You can find more details on ApplePi-Baker in this article if interested.
You can download it for free from Tweaking4All.
DOWNLOAD - ApplePi-Baker (32 bit)
Direct reference link: https://www.tweaking4all.com/downloads/ApplePi-Baker.zip
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After downloading and unzipping the application, start it and your Admin (sudo) password will be asked.
Enter you Admin password and select the USB Drive from the drive list.
CAUTION: Make sure to select the right drive, since it will be completely overwritten!
Next step is to click on the “Restore Backup” button, which allows you to select the .ZIP file you just downloaded.
On a decent computer and a good USB Stick this should only take a minute.
After completion your Mac may display a message that the USB drive is not initialized, just click “Ignore“.
Eject the USB Drive properly (use the eject button in ApplePi-Baker, next to the drive list) and continue with Step 3 …
MacOS X ApplePi-Baker – User Interface
Step 3: Boot your AppleTV and Restore AppleTV OS
Power down your AppleTV (i.e. jank the cord).
Insert the USB pendrive into your AppleTV and power the AppleTV up.
Press and hold the “MENU” and the “+” buttons on the remote as soon as you see the orange light, on the front of your AppleTV, light up. When you see activity on your USB Stick (if it has a light for that): let go of the remote buttons.
After a while, you’ll see the OpenElec logo and after a short wait, the “OpenELEC AppleTV Factory Restore” message, which gives you 30 seconds to bail. After the 30 seconds, a few information messages will appear and finally your AppleTV will reboot.
Once rebooted, the AppleTV will ask for your preferred language.
At that first boot a “Apple TV Recovery” message will appear.
Select “Factory Restore” and in the next screen confirm that you want to “Restore” …
Restore might take a minute or so … and after that your AppleTV boots as if it was new …