Putting the Sansa into Recovery Mode

25 03 2008
While updating mp3 tags with Linux (mp3info), I think I disconnected the device prematurely and it screwed the mp3 ID3 tags and possibly the file system. The player keeps rebooting while refreshing database.
While googling around found this useful (but unsafe) tip.
From time to time there may be a reason to put your Sansa into Recovery Mode. This is one of the four USB modes that the Sansa has, which is used for fixing most problems with the Sansa.
SANSA Sandisk
  • Turn the hold switch so that the orange is showing.
  • Hold the REC button on the side of the Sansa.
  • While holding the REC button, press the power button.
  • After the SanDisk logo appears, it should say “Welcome to Recovery Mode”.
  • After this appears, you may release the REC button. If the Sansa goes to the firmware, it is most likely because the REC button wasn’t held in far enough, and you must repeat these steps.

File Descriptions

  • Firmware file
    • Often called PP5022.MI4, this is the file that controls most of the Sansa, with the exception of when it turns on.
    • When using the Hebrew firmware, this file must be (re)named to firmware.mi4, which is case sensitive.
    • The latest firmware may be downloaded from the Manual Firmware Download thread
  • Bootloader File
    • Often called BL_SD_BOARDSUPPORTSD.ROM, this is the file that tells the Sansa to load the firmware file. The bootloader file also contains the Recovery Mode.
    • When using the Hebrew firmware, this file must be (re)named to pribootLoader.rom, which is also case sensitive.
    • The bootloader almost never needs to be replaced, and a bad or corrupt bootloader may result in the need to use e200tool, a very low level tool.
  • sansa.fmt
    • This file, though normally not used, can be placed on the Recovery Mode drive to format the main partition, which stores all of the music.
    • This file is often used to fix most problems that aren’t fixed by replacing the firmware, such as a music file that is corrupt, which occasionally causes the Refresh Database ‘window’ to freeze.
    • This file’s extension must be fmt. The full filename can not be sansa.fmt.txt or similar, and must only be sansa.fmt
  • Other files
    • Unless it is noted in the Manual Firmware Download thread that another file must be included for the firmware to work, do not add any other files to the Recovery Mode drive
    • Do not, under any circumstances, place a file ending in ‘.bin’ on the Recovery Mode drive.
    • If in doubt about placing any other files besides the firmware (and possibly bootloader) onto the Recovery Mode drive, PM a Sansa moderator, who should be able to help you.

“Load main image failed, switch to recovery mode” error
This error, the most common reason for using Recovery Mode, happens when the firmware is corrupt. Corrupt firmware can not harm your Sansa. In addition, it is fairly easy to fix:

  • Download a copy of the latest firmware, such as from theManual Firmware Download thread.
  • With the Sansa in Recovery Mode, save the mi4 file to the 16MB-FORMAT drive. Rename the mi4 file to PP5022.mi4, if it is not already.
  • Do not copy any other files over. The 16MB-FORMAT is not for storing music and other files. The only files that can be copied over are the bootloader, firmware, and sansa.fmt files
  • If you are using the Hebrew firmware, you may need to rename the firmware file to firmware.mi4 (case sensitive).
  • Disconnect your Sansa.

Sansa Freezes on Database Refresh
This problem is also fairly common, and usually occurs when an MP3 file is corrupt, and causes the database refresh to freeze. It also is fairly easy to fix:

  • Turn off your Sansa, if you haven’t already. If needed, hold the power button for 20 seconds to force it off.
  • Place your Sansa in recovery mode by following the steps above.
  • Place the sansa.fmt file in Recovery Mode. Please note placing this file in Recovery Mode will format your Sansa. That means it will delete all your music that is stored on it.
  • Remove your Sansa, and wait for it to format.
  • Turn off hold, restart Sansa (if needed) and
  • Done

Latest Sansa e200 firmware: http://chrisjs.com/downloads/PP5022.mi4My (Sansa) Rockbox Build:
Site | Download | Old Builds | Thread
My PM box fills up too fast it seems – feel free to email me if you have any questions.