I almost killed my new Edge 500

Quick summary:  If the new Edge 500 firmware update (3.0) bricked your device press and hold the Page/Menu button as you plug the USB cable into your computer.  This will start the Edge in mass storage mode and you’ll be able to explore the file system and delete the firmware update file.  Now on to the whole nerdy story!

I bought a Garmin Edge 500 so that I could track my bike rides and get some GPS data to throw into PostGIS and play with.  I’ll be doing most of that stuff in Linux which I’ll go over in later posts but for now here’s how I almost bricked a brand new Edge 500 before I was able to ride a single inch with it.

Since it was new out of the box I figured it might need a firmware update, and sure enough, a new version, 3.0, was released just two days before.  Garmin updates some (most?) of their devices (maybe just consumer devices, I can’t imagine they’d treat their professional grade hardware like this) through their website.  You have to use a browser plugin and load the My Garmin website.  From there you can click an Update button and it automatically uploads the latest firmware version to your device.  There’s no direct way to download the firmware manually and load it yourself.  I did find some instructions for how to do this with older versions of the firmware from a few years ago, but apparently Garmin moved the servers or changed their directory structure and this method doesn’t work anymore.

While there is a linux version of the browser plugin it has been reversed engineered by someone outside of Garmin and is not officially supported.  I tried it and the My Garmin site gave me several javascript errors, unhandled exceptions mostly.  This scared me off, I get nervous updating firmware for devices under ideal circumstances.   I went ahead and booted into Windows and tried to update the firmware from there.

The upload was a two file process and the 2nd file, a time zone map file, did not upload.  I don’t know if this is what caused further problems down the line, or if the other file was corrupt but I was about to have a heart attack.  I unplugged the Edge and it immediately began to verify the update file.  It somehow passed the check and the Edge tried to load it.  The screen went dead the buttons stopped working.  It did not turn on when I plugged it into my laptop.  It was too late in the day to call Garmin support, I thought I was boned.  I posted about my problem on a bike forum and luckily someone else had the same problem.  The solution, as mentioned above, was to hold the Page/Menu button as you plug in the USB cable.  This starts the Edge in mass storage mode.  From there you explore to the Garmin directory and manually delete the bad firmware files.  They said it would be in the \Garmin\NewFiles directory, but I found my copies at \Garmin.  They stood out since they were the only files with a 2012 file date.  Now my device is running fine with the 2.8 firmware.

In later posts I’ll go over how I’m getting the collected GPS data into GPX files and uploading them into PostGIS for analysis.

    • DirtyVFR
    • May 20th, 2013

    Although this is an older post it helped me out with a problem with my Edge 500. I also had a problem when upgrading the firmware, but via a Mac. I went from 3.0 to 3.2. The result was my age set to 0 and trying to reset it would lock or blank the screen. I tried holding all 4 buttons as an intuitive fix. It rebooted the device but I could never fix the age setting. I tried configuring initial setup on restart, which put me into a loop of reboot and crash on age selection.

    Finally, based on this site’s advice, I started in mass storage mode. Then I went into the Settings folder and deleted the “Settings.fit” file (after making a copy to my Mac.) That did the trick. I was able to reset all the initial parameters and it still remembered my screen customizations, courses and previous ride data.

    • I’m glad it was able to help you get back up and working. Edge 500 firmware upgrades are always an adventure.

      • Xylinx
      • May 27th, 2013

      Thank you for posting!!

      This happened to me as well.

    • Adriano Burgues
    • May 27th, 2013

    My problem isn’t indeed in the set. The point is: the device is not working properly. After the update of 3.O-3.2, it shows the wrong speed for the time and ride during the actvity and the precision of the GPS is never less than 10 meters . I can’t come back to 3.0 following the steps of this post. Any other sugestion?

  1. Thanks for your post!!! It saved my live … ok … it only saved my Garmin 500 … and saved me some money and hassle !!

    Thanks a lot! Can’t believe that Garmin is shipping such unreliable firmware!

    => it was a Garmin 500 and updating to firmware 3.3 on Mac OSx

    I deleted most of the ini files .. and after a master reset it started working again.

    I am off for a ride now!!

    • Evan Shaw
    • April 15th, 2015

    Thanks so much for this! I had the same exact problem – first the screen would die as soon as it would turn on, and then after I tried to reset, it would’t let me enter my age.

    What I found was that my settings, activites, workouts, and basically every other folder on my garmin were showing up as .exe files. I copied them (to ensure nothing catastrophic was in them) and then deleted them from my garmin through my desktop. I then did a simple reset and everything works like a charm!

    I lost my history – but it’s a new season and I needed to delete it anyway – and a garmin with no history is much better than a garmin that doesn’t work at all!

    Thanks again!

    • Glad it helped! In the future if you want to maintain your history you can upload your rides to Garmin’s site, or a third party like Strava.com or RideWithGPS.com. I prefer Ride With GPS, but they all have free tiers of service that are pretty good in their own ways.

      • Yeah, I’m a Strava premium member – but what was happening when the 500 died was I couldn’t access any rides whatsoever. It had changed all of the folders to .exe files, so it was impossible to get any info from them.

        Went on a ride with it last night and it’s back to working perfectly!

        Thanks again!

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