How to Restore Your Apple TV After It Crashes

If your Apple TV crashes after attempting to download and install an update, that means you have to restore it. Here’s how to restore your Apple TV if it ever does end up randomly crashing.

It may not have ever happened to you with your own Apple TV, but there may come a time when it finally does. An Apple TV can sometimes crash randomly, or most commonly during the installation process of a new iOS update.


If this ever happens, or if it just happened to you, there’s only one way to breathe life back into the streaming box, and that is to restore it using iTunes.

I was unfortunate enough to have my Apple TV crash on me shortly after it downloaded and installed a new update, and simply trying restart the box won’t help. You have to completely reset everything and restore it in order for it to work again.

It’s certainly something that doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s important to know what to do. Here’s how to restore your Apple TV.


What Does a Crashed Apple TV Look Like?

If you’re not sure if your Apple TV crashed, there’s an easy way to find out, and it’s hard to miss.


Simply put, you’ll see the iTunes logo appear with a USB cable connected to the Apple TV graphic on the screen (see below). Furthermore, the LED light on your Apple TV will blink rapidly.

Apple TV

You may try to hard restart the streaming box by holding volume down and the menu button down at the same time for six seconds to force a reboot, but the Apple TV will boot right back up to that iTunes screen. Unfortunately, you’ll be forced to restore the box.

How to Restore Your Apple TV

To restore your Apple TV, you’ll need your computer with iTunes installed, a microUSB cable, and an internet connection.


Follow the simple steps below to restore your Apple TV and get it back into full working condition.

  • Unplug the HDMI cable and power cord from your Apple TV.
  • Open iTunes on your computer and connect the microUSB cable to the back of your Apple TV and into a USB port on your computer.
  • If you have an Apple TV 3, reconnect the power cord. If you have an Apple TV 2, leave it unplugged.
  • In iTunes, you should see the Apple TV summary page. If you don’t see the page, click the Apple TV icon in the upper-left corner.

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  • Click Restore Apple TV. While it’s restoring, don’t unplug anything. The time it takes to restore your Apple TV depends entirely on your internet connection.
  • When your Apple TV has finished restoring, unplug the microUSB cable and power cord. Then reconnect the HDMI cable and power cord to your Apple TV and put it back into your home entertainment setup.
  • Boot it up and you should now be greeted with a working Apple TV again.

Take note that this will reset everything, so you’ll have to go back in and log into all of the streaming services that you use, like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

It’s a little weird that you have to plug your Apple TV into your computer through a microUSB connection, and I actually never knew the Apple TV had a microUSB port on the back to begin with, so that was certainly a surprise.

Nonetheless, this is how you fix a crashed Apple TV, and your computer acts as the software downloader and installer for the box. It’s actually a neat little way to update the Apple TV, but it’s certainly not ideal most of the time, considering that your Apple TV never leaves your home entertainment setup.