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Restore NI Phar Lap and VxWorks RT Target to Factory Default Configuration

Updated Jul 26, 2023



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

Operating System

  • VxWorks
  • Phar Lap

This article explains how to restore a LabVIEW Real-Time device to the factory default configuration. This may be necessary for the following reasons:

  • To reset the password for the target.
  • To restore my CompactRIO (cRIO), sbRIO, PXI Real-Time controller, stand-alone USRP controller, or other real-time targets to factory default.
  • To format the disk and reinstall software
  • To reset my cRIO from NI Measurement and Automation Explorer (NI MAX) without having to install any software (LabVIEW, LabVIEW Real-Time, cRIO driver)

The method of restoration differs depending on the operating system of the target. Please refer to Real-Time Controllers and Real-Time Operating System Compatibility to determine which operating system each real-time target is running.

This article is focused on LabVIEW Real-Time Targets (Phar Lap and VxWorks), please consult the following if you have another device:


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

  • When you format the disk, you will lose all programs and configuration data on your controller. 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 back up 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 had 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.

    In this guide are the following sections:

    1. Preparation Steps
    2. Method 1: Restoration using NI Measurement and Automation Explorer (MAX)
    3. Method 2: Restoration for cRIO with a USB Port

    Preparation Steps:

    Before restoring the device, it may be necessary to complete some preparation steps, depending on the version of LabVIEW Real-Time being used. 

    For LabVIEW Real-Time 2009 and older

    Note: The password will be removed during this process. The IP configuration will need to be reconfigured. 

    If the RIO device has physical DIP switches, follow these instructions: 

    1. Set the IP RESET switch to ON.
    2. Reboot the controller.
    3. Set the switch to OFF

    If your RIO does not have DIP switches, follow these instructions:

    1. Hold the RESET button until the STATUS LED turns solid orange or yellow.
    2. Release the RESET button and the controller will restart. The STATUS LED will blink three times indicating that the controller is in Safe Mode.
    3. Hold the RESET button again until the STATUS LED turns solid orange or yellow.
    4. Release the RESET button and the controller will reset the password, reset the IP configuration, and restart in Safe Mode.
    5. Find the RIO in NI MAX and restart the controller into Normal Mode.

    For LabVIEW Real-Time 2010 and newer

    Note: After this process, the RIO will be usable without a password, but all files that were on the RIO will be lost in the process. 
    The security settings of the RIO now carry through an IP reset. The RIO controller will have to be reformatted in order to clear the password. 

    1. Reboot the controller into Safe Mode, by using the DIP switches or holding the RESET button as described above.

    Method 1: Restoration using 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 login 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 installation 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.

    Method 2: Restoration for cRIO with a USB Port

    Using the USB reset will leave the system in a state where it is unable to run LabVIEW Real-Time

    In this file, you will find .cfg files for all cRIO chassis which drivers you have installed.

    1. On a PC that is connected to a working cRIO, from File Explorer go in the following direction:
      • Local Disk (C:) >> Program Files (x86) >> National Instruments >> Shared >> Firmware >> cRIO
    2. Find the cRIO which you want to format and from that folder copy file which is called cRIO-90xx_x.x.x
      • See the below table for a list of devices and their associated firmware folder names.
        TargetFolder Name TargetFolder Name TargetFolder Name
        cRIO-90307755 cRIO-904878B7 cDAQ-9132773B
        cRIO-9031774B cRIO-904878E7 cDAQ-913377BD
        cRIO-90327841 cRIO-904978EA cDAQ-91347773
        cRIO-90337735 cRIO-905379DD cDAQ-913577BC
        cRIO-9034774D cRIO-905479DE cDAQ-91367833
        cRIO-903577DB cRIO-90557A2B cDAQ-91377835
        cRIO-90357875 cRIO-905679DF ELVIS III793C
        cRIO-903677DC cRIO-905779E0 ELVIS RIO CM7885
        cRIO-90377840 cRIO-90587A2A cRIO-96037A38
        cRIO-903877B9 cRIO-90637740 cRIO-96087A39
        cRIO-903977DD cRIO-90647741 cRIO-96097A41
        cRIO-90397878 cRIO-90657742 cRIO-96287A3A
        cRIO-904078E3 cRIO-90667743 cRIO-96297A43
        cRIO-904179D0 cRIO-90677744 cRIO-96387A3B
        cRIO-904278E8 cRIO-906876D6 sbRIO-960777D6
        cRIO-904378E5 myRIO-1900762F sbRIO-962777D5
        cRIO-904578E4 myRIO-195076D3 sbRIO-963777D4
        cRIO-904679CE roboRIO76F2 sbRIO-9651775E
    3. Copy the "recovery.cfg" file to the USB drive (it should be FAT16/32 and be fully formatted)
    4. Plug in the USB drive to the controller
    5. Power off the RIO by unplugging the power
    6. Hold down the RESET button
    7. Power on the cRIO by plugging the power back in (continue to hold the RESET button while powering on)
    8. Wait until the status light turns on, then release the RESET button
    9. Wait for the controller to boot. This should take less than a minute
    10. Check that the password has been reset to the default.
      • You will be prompted for a password, the default password is blank
    11. Reinstall the software on the controller.

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