How to Fix the Apple TV 5.1.1 Ethernet Update Bug

| How-To

Apple TV 5.1.1 Ethernet Update Bug

Apple last Thursday released Software Update 5.1.1 for second- and third-generation Apple TVs. In addition to stability and performance fixes, it also introduced support for the new “Up Next” feature found in iTunes 11. Unfortunately, a number of users are reporting problems with the update, resulting in aborted downloads and failures to reboot following an update attempt. Thankfully, TidBITS summarizes the solution: update over Wi-Fi.

Step 1: Unplug the Ethernet cable from your Apple TV.

Step 2: Connect to a Wi-Fi network using your Apple TV and attempt to update the device again.

Step 3: If the Apple TV is unable to boot, use a micro USB cable to connect it to a Mac or PC running iTunes (third-generation Apple TV owners also need to connect the Apple TV's power cord while it connected to the computer).

Step 4: Open iTunes and wait for the Apple TV to appear in the Devices section of your iTunes sidebar (for iTunes 10) or under your Devices button in the upper right portion of the window (for iTunes 11). Select the Apple TV from the list and choose "Restore."

Step 5: Wait for iTunes to download the restore firmware for your Apple TV and for the restore process to complete. Once completed, disconnect the Apple TV from the computer, reconnect it to your television, boot it up, and attempt to update again via a Wi-Fi connection.

The Mac Observer has followed up with several readers who performed the steps above and all reported that their device updated successfully. Thus far, it appears that only the update process is affected by the bug in the 5.1.1 software; after updating, users can reconnect their Apple TV to an Ethernet connection and content will be delivered normally.

For users who have yet to update, however, and who do not require immediate access to the “Up Next” feature, we recommend waiting to update until Apple releases a fix for the issue.

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Luckily, I did the upgrade over wi-fi and it went smoothly. Whew.

Joe Spiegel

I figured out that I needed to try a wifi update after it kept failing. That worked and all was well UNTIL I plugged back in my Ethernet cable. Then all the connection bugs came back. I went back to wifi but it’s very disheartening that Apple wants to actually build a television set.  Count me out as a customer. I can disconnect this box, I don’t want my TV taken down by rouge software.  A friend had no issues updating his wired AppleTV and says it’s me. It was all working before the previous update.

I’m thinking I should just bring back this box to the Apple Store and start again from scratch.



me too… I had unplugged ethernet to allow HuluPlus to work, so the upgrade went effortlessly, and after that plugged it back in and all is well. Lucky for a change smile

David Salomon

Actually, I had the Apple TV update stall on WiFi, then fail to boot. Status light would come on with remote but nothing happen after that. Fix came from disconnecting power, reboot, download and install update, all over WiFi, then all was OK.


seems like it’s working for me,,,, never got past the preparing update stage, now it’s rebooting looks like it’s installing.

Roy B.

I didn’t know there was a problem, I was just wanting to know what this new update was about.  I did a wired update, only took 2 hours but I figured that was my crappy dsl connection and all went ok.  Now I’m afraid to update the ATV in the bedroom.

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