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I applied a recommended firmware update for an AirPort Extreme base station and now it won't boot. Briefly the light goes green, then off, then stays stuck on amber.

I did several factory resets, unplugging, plugging in while holding down the reset button, and although it blinks amber rapidly, as it's supposed to, it won't go through the full boot process.

As an example, wired connections do not engage, with the little green light in the socket never turning on. The switch connection doesn't light up either.

The AirPort Utility will not detect it either.

How do recover from this sort of thing? Is there a trick to getting it to get it together?

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You probably can't recover it yourself. The times I've interrupted firmware updates halfway through, it automatically detected the corrupted firmware image and booted off of the original factory firmware version. It seems Apple keeps two copies of the firmware image in the flashROM: A recovery image that always stays as whatever version shipped from the factory, and the main image that you can upgrade. I think the bootloader must checksum the main image before booting from it, and automatically falls back to the recovery image if the checksum fails.

It sounds like in your case that checksumming or fallback isn't working, so it's just failing to boot in a way Apple didn't expect. It's probable that you've found a bug. It's possible that due to flash bit rot or cosmic rays, your recovery image became corrupted in flash at some point, and you've never needed it until now. I suppose there's a remote possibility that you happened to have a hardware failure that coincided with your firmware update, and I suppose there's an extremely remote possibility that your flash image was corrupted in just the right way that the checksum didn't catch it.

Call AppleCare or take it to a Mac Genius. Even if it's out of warranty, if you have a Mac that's under warranty, sometimes they can use your Mac's warranty to cover Apple peripherals.

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Good to know. Thanks! –  tadman Sep 21 '11 at 20:21

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