Let’s face it, a bricked PlayBook can truly be an inconvenience, and cause you anxiety.

Although there are a number of reasons that could cause your PlayBook to be bricked (i.e. unable to boot), one solution you can consider and that you can perform yourself, is an OS repair using BlackBerry Desktop Software.

Here’s how you can perform this DIY repair (call it a last ditch effort before sending it to RIM for repair/replacement).

What you’ll need:

Must Haves:

  • Latest BlackBerry Desktop Software
  • PlayBook USB Cable
  • Fast, Stable WiFi Internet Connection
  • *Patience and Presence of Mind*

Optional but very handy/useful:

  • Full Backup of your PlayBook saved on your Computer
  • BlackBerry PlayBook Rapid Charger
  • Uninterrupted Power Source
  • Pen and Paper to document your steps

Before performing the procedure outlined below, we’re assuming that your PlayBook refuses to boot even after:

  • You’ve tried plugging in (charging) your PlayBook for hours, thus eliminating an empty batt as the problem
  • You’ve tried restarting your PlayBook several times already by pressing the Power Button on for 10 full seconds (this will either bring up the restart/standby/turn off options, or turn off/shut down your PlayBook if there’s really a problem with your OS).
  • You’ve also tried performing a hard reset by pressing the Power + Vol Down + Vol Up buttons all the same time for 10 full seconds

The Procedure:

Before you proceed with these steps, know that this will totally wipe your PlayBook clean (i.e. OS, Settings, Mail/Calendar/Contacts Data, Apps Installed, and Saved Files). You may want to ask yourself again:

  • Are you sure you’ve exhausted all other efforts to get it to start/boot but have not succeeded?
  • Are you sure you want to do this?
  • Can you spare time (possibly 2-6 hours) to do this?  Actual time may vary depending on your situation (i.e. internet speed, backup file size, success rate)

If you’re sure you want to proceed, then follow the steps below:

  1. Close all unnecessary programs (including those running in the background) on your computer to ensure that your computer will have all the resources Processor, Memory, and Internet bandwith all available for de-bricking your PlayBook.
  2. Make sure your PlayBook is fully charged. If you need to, plug it in (despite refusing to boot, and/or the absence of the flashing green led light) for an hour or two. The repair/update process takes a while and the USB cable does little in charging your PlayBook even when attached to the computer. If your PlayBook’s battery is depleted in the middle of the process, you may have to repeat the process and in effect spend more time than initially estimated.
    [If you have a PlayBook Rapid Charger, you can possibly skip this step, because you can simultaneously connect the Rapid Charger and the USB cable at the same time.]
  3. Open up BlackBerry Desktop Manager on your Computer and plug in the bricked PlayBook using the USB Cable. It will bring up a window that says “BlackBerry Desktop Software cannot communicate with the connected device.” and present you with options to “Retry“, “Update“, or “Cancel“.[If it doesnt bring up this window when you plugged in your PlayBook via USB, consider unplugging and reconnecting, possibly to a different USB port, until you hear that familiar sound your computer uses to indicate a newly connected device.]
  4. On the popup window, click “Retry” first, to allow it to attempt to reboot your PlayBook for you. Be patient as it will take a while.
    [Note: There have been some cases wherein clicking on “Retry” actually gets your PlayBook to boot. We suggest you give this a shot.]
  5. If after 10 mins and your PlayBook still won’t boot, unplug and reconnect it again until it opens up the same window described and shown in Step 3.
  6. When presented with the choices to Retry, Update, Cancel, click on “Update” this time. BlackBerry Desktop Software will open up a new popup window “Confirm device repair“, and forewarn you of what you’re about to do.
  7. Click on “Repair”. This will then open up a popup window that says “Checking for BlackBerry Tablet OS Updates“. Duration will depend on computer resources and internet connection, but it should take only about a minute.
  8. In some cases, you may be prompted/asked to “Reset your device.” before BlackBerry Desktop Software can proceed in checking for the OS Updates. Just follow the instruction provided [as shown in the picture below].
  9. Once BlackBerry Desktop Software completes the OS Update check, it will report the latest officially available OS for your PlayBook, and prompt you to either “Get update” or “Update later“.
  10. Click on “Get update.”  This will bring up another confirmation popup window forewarning you of the duration, and giving you the option to “Install update” or “Cancel“.
  11. Click on “Install update” if you are totally sure. BlackBerry Desktop Software will begin the download process, which can take up to hours depending on your internet connection speed/quality. This is also where your patience will be tested. Seconds will feel like minutes, and minutes like hours. Be patient, but be alert and observant.
    While downloading, you may want to write your observations/notes, so that in the event that you (hopefully not) need to contact RIM and describe what you’ve already tried, it will all be accurately captured/documented.
    [You may also want to be ready to take pictures of any unusual error messages, especially those not shown in this article]
  12. Once it’s done downloading, BlackBerry Desktop Software will then automatically extract and install the OS onto your PlayBook, and then connect to the PlayBook to reboot it.

  13. If everything proceeded well, your PlayBook should boot up and present you with the same setup options as when you first got your BlackBerry PlayBook (i.e. Language/Country, Date/Time, WiFi Connection, Legal Notice, BlackBerry ID, Tutorials, etc.). Set these up.
  14. Once you’re done setting up, your PlayBook will then automatically check for partial OS updates for your Region and download the update via WiFi. Duration will depend on the size of the update and your WiFi internet connection quality/speed. Again, be patient — after all, you’re almost done!
  15. After downloading the OS updates for your Region, your PlayBook will reboot. This should take about 3-5 minutes. After that, you should have your working BlackBerry PlayBook. Enjoy!

Additional Notes:

  • Assuming that the reason for your PlayBook getting bricked was a corrupted OS (which can result from a number of reasons, like apps installed/uninstalled over the period of time you’ve used it, or the number of documents and media files you’ve copied/deleted, etc.), then the clean install of the OS should fix your bricked PlayBook.
  • There are other possible causes as well, like hardware failure based on normal wear-and-tear from usage, or if you’ve dropped your PlayBook, etc. IF the reason for your PlayBook getting bricked was caused by a hardware problem, then this procedure will almost certainly not fix it. If after following these steps, your PlayBook remains bricked, contact RIM, or the Carrier/Retailer where you got your PlayBook, and ask for Support. This is where your personal documentation (i.e. personal account of what happened and steps taken) will come in handy.
  • You probably noticed that we were very particular with charging your PlayBook prior to (and if you have the Rapid Charger, even during…) the Repair Process. The reason behind this is that you’ll never really know if/when you’ll need to repeat the process outlined above several times. The OS Repair/Update procedure seems to eat up more power than your average, day-to-day PlayBook use, and can thus drain your battery faster. If your battery drains in the middle of the process, like it did with one of our Web Editors*, this can affect the OS Repair/Update Process, and necessitate another attempt, after charging the unit.


In case you’re wondering what one of our Web Editors experienced, we decided to include the details for your reference.

  • Two unsuccessful repair/update attempts on a slow/intermittent wifi internet connection eventually drained the PlayBook battery on the third attempt (which was already on a much better/stable wifi internet connection).
  • The third attempt might have worked, if not for the totally drained battery.
  • He realized something went wrong when the BlackBerry Desktop Software was connecting to the PlayBook, and returned the following error message:
  • He then realized that the battery had been drained when the PlayBook prompted him with the Battery Charge symbol (shown below) as he attempted to manually reboot the device.
  • Because of that, he had to keep the PlayBook plugged in to the PlayBook Rapid Charger while connected via USB to the computer for a fourth (and eventually successful) attempt.
  • The drained battery in effect took up 4 more hours in total for the process, because the PlayBook apparently refuses to “Check for OS Updates for your Region” (described in Step 14) unless the battery is above 20% (see image below).

Although we sincerely hope you’ll never have to “use” these steps, we figured it would help reduce the anxiety and additional stress it may cause you as you look for the solution among the bits and pieces of tips and comments spread all across the internet for fixing a bricked PlayBook.  If you need further assistance, leave a comment on this article, or post a note on the BlackBerry Empire Forum.  We’re here for you.