How to Restore LabVIEW RT Target to Factory Default Configuration

Updated Sep 30, 2022



  • PXI Controller
  • CompactRIO Single-Board Controller
  • CompactRIO Controller
  • USRP Software Defined Radio Stand-Alone Device
  • Controller for FlexRIO
  • myRIO-1900

These are possible scenarios where the process can be performed: 
  • I need to restore my CompactRIO (cRIO), sbRIO, PXI Real-Time controller, stand-alone USRP controller, or other real-time targets to factory default. How do I format the disk and reinstall the software?
  • Can I reset my cRIO from NI Measurement and Automation Explorer (NI MAX) without having to install any software (LabVIEW, LabVIEW Real-Time, cRIO driver)?

Please see below a list of important considerations before restoring your RT target to factory default configuration:

  • You will lose all programs and configuration data on your controller when you format the disk. Make sure you have a backup copy of any files you may need from your controller and make a note of your IP configuration.  There is no need to backup any of the driver or run-time files as they will be reinstalled after the format.
  • Prior to NI MAX 5.0, network settings could not be preserved and you have to manually put the Real-Time target into Safe Mode. Refer to your device's documentation on how to do this.
  • In order for NI MAX to recognize your remote hardware, make sure that both the device and the Host PC are on the same subnet and that you have the minimum software required installed on your Host PC as well. Otherwise you may not be able to see the device, or have the option to reinstall the software/reset the device.

There are two methods:
  1. Through NI MAX 
  2. cRIO with USB Port

1. Through NI MAX

The following steps are for NI MAX 5.0 and newer:
  1. Open NI MAX and expand Remote Systems from the Configuration tree. 
  2. Right-click on the device and select Format Disk.
  3. If a Log In window appears, select OK.        
  4. Select Attempt to restart into safe mode to restart the controller in Safe Mode.
  5. Select Preserve the settings for all network adapters
  6. Phar Lap ETS targets have the additional option of selecting a file system. We recommend the Reliance file system. For more information on the Reliance File system read this article: Format Real-Time PC or Real-Time PXI Target to the Reliance File System
  7. Click Format to format the controller and Yes to restart the controller once it has been formatted. 
  8. If you choose to not preserve the network settings, after the controller restarts navigate to the Network Settings tab in NI MAX and configure the network settings.
  9. Right-click on Software and select Add/Remove Software - the Software folder will not be visible in the configuration tree in NI MAX if the controller does not have a valid IP address.
  1. Some controllers install using Recommended Software Set's (RSS)'s. If your controller does not have an RSS option, proceed to Step 11. 
RSS's simplify the install process by automatically selecting the required base software components. Select the RSS for the version of LabVIEW Real-Time you wish to install. 

The RSS selection will select to install the base requirements for that Real-Time and driver version. Next, another window will open allowing the selection of other optional install components.

  1. If the controller does not have a RSS option then the specific software must be selected manually. 

  1. Select Next. Review the software to be installed.
  2. Select Next to begin the install process.
  3. After the software is installed the controller will restart. If you manually put the controller into Safe Mode, return the setting/dip switch back to off to allow the controller to restart normally.

Additional Information

If you are unable to format the disk, ensure that the Real-Time target is in Safe Mode. Refer to the device's documentation on how to do this.

If you are receiving an error stating:
Error while reading a file from the local disk.
The file may be corrupt or not present. The disk space on the Real-Time target is full. The following link will address this issue: Error While Reading From the Local Disk When Formatting Real-Time Target

2. cRIO with USB Port

The other method for the cRIO which has a USB port can be the following:

On a PC that is connected to a working cRIO, from File Explorer go in the following direction: 


In this file, you will find .cfg files for all cRIO chassis which drivers you have installed. In this pallet please find cRIO which you want to format and from that folder copy file which is called :


(instead of cRIO-9030 should be cRIO which you want to format).

This file needs to be copied to the formatted FAT 16/32 USB Driver. After this please follow the steps described upper.

1. Copy the "recovery.cfg" file to the USB drive (it should be FAT16/32 and be fully formatted)
2. Plug in the USB drive to the controller
3. Power off the RIO by unplugging the power
4. Hold down the reset button
5. Power on the RIO by plugging the power back in (continue to hold the reset button while powering on)
6. Wait until the status light turns on, then release the reset button
7. Wait for the controller to boot. This should take less than a minute
8. Check that the password has been reset to the default. (customer will still be prompted for a password even if the default is blank)
9. Reinstall the software on the controller. Using the USB reset will leave the system in a state where it is unable to run LVRT.

NOTE: This procedure not working for Target devices with Real_time OS ARM-based, please contact NI Support to receive the proper recovery.cfg file. Checking your OS version in Real-Time Controllers and Real-Time Operating System Compatibility