How to Hard Reset Your NETGEAR WNR3500L

One question that I have seen come up frequently on the forums, and also needed myself, is how to "properly" reset my NETGEAR open source router in the event of a lockup of some kind.  This happened to me on an experimental install of DD-WRT, and I thought that there was no hope short of debricking the router using a special cable.  However, after speaking with some experts, I discovered there are other methods to try first.

"Simple" Hard Reset

The very first step to try in the event of a failure is this simple reset.  Essentially, this duplicates the "nvram erase" CFE command to clear out the NVRAM of your router and get the firmware back to its original condition.

  1. Power off the router.  It's useful to have it attached to a power strip, which enables you to easily and quickly power it back on.
  2. Press the small reset button in the back of the unit with a pin and hold it in.
  3. Power the router back on and continue to hold the reset button in for 30 seconds. 

"30-30-30" Reset

This is a popular method, outlined on the DD-WRT wiki, to reset pretty much any commercial router on the market.  It's been recommended for the WNR3500L by many forum members here as well.  This method is a bit more involved, but tried and true.

  1. With the router powered on, hold the reset button in for 30 seconds.
  2. Continue to hold the reset button in and unplug the router, holding it in for another 30 seconds.
  3. Plug the router back in, with the reset button still held, and continue to hold it in for another 30 seconds. 

Erase the NVRAM Manually

If both of these methods fail, you may be able to erase the NVRAM manually via the CFE prompt.  This requires the use of a USB-TTL cable and is a bit more advanced.  You can see this tutorial for more information on how to access the CFE prompt.

Basically, all you do once you reach the CFE prompt is execute the "nvram erase" command, which should (in theory) accomplish the same as either of the two reset methods above.

If all else fails...

At this point, if you have tried the above methods, it's pretty safe to say that you will need to do a full "de-bricking" to bring your WNR3500L back to life.  You can find a full tutorial below!

Debricking your WNR3500L on Windows

Debricking your WNR3500L on Mac

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