TP-Link Archer C7 bricked... is it recoverable?

Hi, all. Hopefully this hasn't been asked before. My apologies if it has.

I have a TP-Link Archer C7 Ver:2.0. I previously had OpenWRT running on it, and in trying to apply an update last fall, something went wrong, and I bricked it. It's been sitting in a box since, but now I'd like to put it into use as a repeater/access point, so I thought I'd try once again to recover it. Unfortunately, I'm having no luck.

Video of the startup light sequence

It still boots up, but I think the factory bootloader might be gone. I've followed the "un-bricking" instructions in detail: I have my MacBook Pro connected to it via Ethernet, with its IP manually set to, and have tested the TFTP server and verified that it's working. The correct version of the firmware is there in the directory, and named ArcherC7v3_tp_recovery.bin

It seems that the router isn't going into recovery mode and reaching out for the file. Unfortunately, I do not have a hardware console, and have no way of seeing what's going on at the router side of the connection.

Is this still recoverable? Would there be anyone in the Toronto area who'd be willing to give me a hand in doing so?

Thanks for any assistance.

It can't boot up with the bootloader gone.

This is a good sign! :+1:

It seems so.

Thanks for your quick reply!

Just to clarify... it powers up, and seems to be doing something while doing so. (see video linked in original post)

But it does not seem to have any kind of firmware on it, and I cannot seem to connect to it or log into it.

The TFTP server is running on my laptop, and I was able to use a TFTP client to connect to it and download a file locally. But when I start up the router while holding down the WPS button, it does not seem to enter "recovery" mode and try to connect to the TFTP server.

Any suggestions as to what to try next? Is there an SSH command I can try to access the router in some way to see what (if anything) is running on it?

Try running wireshark on your Mac to see what, if anything, the router is sending our over the wire when it boots into what you hope is TFTP mode. It might make things clearer in wireshark if you filter out MDNS packets in the "view"

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Holy crap! That was super-helpful. Thank you, Jeff.

It looks like it IS seeking the firmware, but my Mac is responding with an "access violation" error.

52	4.539635	TFTP	87	Read Request, File: ArcherC7v2_tp_recovery.bin, Transfer type: octet, timeout=3
53	4.551800	TFTP	63	Error Code, Code: Access violation, Message: Access violation

One thing I have noticed and tried unsuccessfully to fix is that tftpd is running under my user name instead of root. Attempts to change ownership to root:wheel have been denied. Should that matter?

What can I try next?

sudo launchctl load -F /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/tftp.plist

Files in /private/tftpboot/

Then sudo launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/tftp.plist to disable it again, as I recall.

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It's back!

Thank you so much @jeff for the suggestion of using Wireshark. That gave me the clues I needed to investigate further.

  • I verified permissions on the /private/tftpboot/ directory were set to 777.
  • I also saw that my router's bootloader was asking for ArcherC7v2_tp_recovery.bin, and the instructions said that even v2 hardware would look for a v3 firmware recovery file.
  • I changed the recovery file name to v2, and boom! Back in business.

I'm happy. Thank you so much for your help. Now to set it up as an access point/repeater!

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