The following information is specific to the Raspberry Pi Model 4, which has an entirely new boot flow relative to previous Pi models. Boot code is now located on a built in boot EEPROM - NOT on the SD card. Older models used a boot.bin file located on the SD card.

Sanity Check

This is a simple sanity check of the Pi's state.

  • Remove power.
  • Remove everything connected to Pi.
  • Remove SD card.
  • Apply power.

If the EEPROM bootloader is working correctly, you should see a repeating pattern of 4 blinks on the green LED. This is the warning code that indicates "start*.elf not found", which is expected since the SD card that contains that file has been removed.

If you see the LED blink the expected pattern, you do NOT need to attempt this recovery.

If the expected blink pattern did not appear, then it may be a corrupt EEPROM bootloader image. The following is how to attempt a recovery to re-image the EEPROM bootloader code.

Create a Recovery SD Card

To attempt a recovery repair of the EEPROM bootloader, a special recovery SD card image is used. This can be created using the rpi-imager software tool.

Install the SD card into the computer running rpi-imager.

Launch rpi-imager and click the CHOOSE OS button.

Scroll down and pick the Misc Utility images option.

Select Bootloader from the options.

Select SD Card Boot from the options.

It will return to the main window. Click CHOOSE STORAGE and select the SD card.

Then click WRITE to create the recovery SD card image.

Let it write the image.

The contents of the newly created SD card image should look something like this.

Use Recovery SD in Pi 4

Now that the recovery SD image has been created, do the following on the Pi 4 to attempt bootloader image recovery.

Put the SD card in the Pi.

Apply power to the Pi.

Now wait at least 10 seconds for the process to run.

When done, the green LED will blink continuously forever.

Next Steps

Now try booting the Pi with an SD card containing a normal OS image. If you need to reuse the same SD card, you'll need to use rpi-imager again to reimage it with an OS image.

If you already have an SD card with an OS image - make sure it's the latest OS release version.

This guide was first published on Mar 13, 2019. It was last updated on May 17, 2024.

This page (RPI4 Recovery) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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