Factory reset AIR-CAP3502I-E-K9

To factory reset a Cisco AIR-CAP3502I-E-K9, follow the following. I’m fairly certain this will work with most Aironet access points but I only have this model available.

  • Connect to the access point with a serial/console cable, fire up PuTTY and connect to the correct COM port.
  • Whilst holding the MODE button, connect the power cable or ethernet cable if using PoE.
  • Keep holdings the MODE button until the LED flashes red. You should see the ap: prompt.
  • Run dir flash: – You should see private-multiple-fs and env_vars
  • Run the following 2 commands

    rename flash:private-multiple-fs flash:private-multiple-fs-old

    rename flash:env_vars flash:env_vars-old

  • Run dir flash: again to confirm the files have been renamed.
  • If everything looks good, type reset and confirm with y to reboot the access point.
  • When the access points reboot, you should be able to login with username: Cisco and password: Cisco


28 thoughts on “Factory reset AIR-CAP3502I-E-K9

    1. Sorry, it should be env_vars (although it doesn’t really matter what the file is renamed too). Updated the article

  1. What gets done with the -old files? can they be deleted?
    Do they get re-created after device is configured?
    I need to make sure that these devices are thoroughly wiped and cannot be recovered.

    1. To be honest I can’t remember and I don’t have any APs to test with currently.

      You could reset as per the above then run dir flash: again to see whats listed.

  2. I know this is from 2016, but what does it mean when you do exactly as specified yet I don’t see anything come up in PuTTy. I bought a different USB to Lan Cisco cable with still no difference so it’s not the cable. I was able to see the prompt and boot up process only ONCE but have not been able to replicate that again. From memory my finger slipped off the “mode” button accidently way before the RED led flashing, but can’t remember how far into the process it was.
    I tried doing it at 5 sec, 10 sec, 20 etc but just cannot crack it. Does anyone know if It can be done without the USB serial cable, and by just useing a lane cable from a computer straight to the AP’s console port?

    1. The only thing I could think of is the AP is faulty in some way. Unfortunately you can’t just use the normal LAN port for this, its only for connectivity and management once configured.

  3. This is so good, i work with a wide variety of cisco ap’s from the 1500′ all the way to the 3000’s and industrial/military ones. And can confirm this works for pretty much all of them!

      1. When I issue dir flash at AP prompt, I have “unable to stat tftp/: permission denied”, very certain I’m connected to console.

      2. Sorry, I meant I’m getting “unable to stat flash/: permission denied” when I issue “dir flash” at the AP prompt.

  4. This seems to work and when it re-boots it says
    *Mar 1 00:00:28.823: %DHCP-6-ADDRESS_ASSIGN: Interface BVI1 assigned DHCP address, mask, hostname APd8b1.90d6.dcc8
    %Default route without gateway, if not a point-to-point interface, may impact performance
    *Mar 1 00:00:34.415: %LWAPP-3-CLIENTERRORLOG: Config load from flash failed. Initialising Cfg

    %Error opening flash:/capwap-saved-config (No such file or directory)
    Translating “CISCO-CAPWAP-CONTROLLER”…domain server ( [OK]

    What do I do next. I can see my router lists it as on that IP address but I cannot connect to the gui and cannot find any commands to run from Putty

    1. At a quick glance it looks its trying to connect to a controller. If you don’t have a controller, you’ll need to change the firmware from lightweight to autonomous.

  5. Hi dear @tom
    I have a problem please help me.
    I have a Cisco access point AIR-CAP3502I-E-K9 and I do reset factory and after reset I don’t login to GUI and didn’t work CLI comment in the putty.
    The ELD always red and green flashing.
    What is my Ap problem what I doing this
    Please help me sir!

    1. Red and green flashing lights generally is something power related. Is it being powered over PoE or via a power adapter?

  6. Bonjour, Même problème que TOM
    branché avec adaptateur secteur Cisco
    pas d’accès depuis putty après clignotement led rouge

  7. Same issue as others: dir flash: permission denied…

    Any idea ? I have to factory reset this access point :/

  8. Found something; when I plug the ethernet cable to a switch, and restart the reset procedure, the access point gets stuck at: examining image.
    And there is a : unable to create temp dir: flash:/update just before…

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