How do I update Apple TV if it's stuck?


There’s an update for the 3rd Generation Apple TV that frequently hangs waiting for the update server. Here’s how to fix that problem and update your Apple TV if it does get stuck.
While iOS 8 has garnered a lot of the headlines recently, Apple also snuck out a quick update to the Apple TV, putting the UI in line with the flattened look of iOS 7/8 and adding a few tweaks.
For most Apple TV users the update should be all but silent, as the default is to update automatically when new updates become available. The key word there is “should”.
If you’re like me, you may have one or more Apple TVs that resolutely refuse to update, instead stating that they’re “waiting for the update server”. This may well have to do with Apple’s server caching, but it’s annoying nonetheless.
So how do you bypass it? By using the iTunes update method. You’ll need a microUSB cable for this task — the Apple TV is the only Apple product that uses the otherwise standard cable — your Apple TV power supply and a PC or Mac running iTunes. Connect all three up, and launch iTunes, and it should spot your Apple TV connected.
From there, select your Apple TV from within iTunes, choose “Restore”, and it’ll contact Apple’s servers and run through the download process. That may take some time depending on your connection, but unlike the “waiting for the update server” problem, you’ll be able to see some progression in the download, however slow.
Important note #1: Restoring performs a full factory reset; You’ll have to re-enter your Apple ID and set up your Apple TV with any other modifications (screensavers, etc) to use it once restored.
Important note #2: You did read the important note above, right? In any case, this advice is offered without warranty, etc, etc, do so at your own risk, things do go wrong, don’t get trampled by elephants, but if you do it’s not my fault, and so on and so forth.
Important note #3: When the restore process is done, you do need to disconnect your Apple TV from your computer, otherwise it’ll loop back into restore mode.
This is exactly what Apple advises when Apple TV goes wrong, so I’m happy enough to say that the actual risk should be small to non-existent.
How Do I? covers the basics, because we’ve all got to start somewhere.
Image: Apple

2 thoughts on “How do I update Apple TV if it's stuck?

  1. Okay okay I finally decided to update my Apple TV and it’s been nearly30 minutes. The screen comes up with everything on it but then disappears to the black screen with the twirling circle icon. I see I’m supposed to have a ‘micro usb cable?” To heck with it – I’m ditching the box and going with Amazon Fire TV. I have one upstairs and it’s amazing.

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