Fixing a locked up SanDisk Sansa e250 audio player

Note (May 2010): Since this was written, the firmware link to died, and you may be better served using their new updater application. However, if you have a “version 1” e250 and you want to give this a try (at your own risk of course), I’ve placed the firmware that I used at the bottom of the article.

sansa_e250 SanDisk doesn’t publish the steps to accessing the recovery mode on the e250 flash player. So when mine had some filesystem corruption, I eventually ended up with a device that would not boot. It went into database refresh mode, and stopped partway through, frozen.

Initially SanDisk suggested I format the drive from Windows, but since it wouldn’t boot, I could not mount it. (Good to know, though, that the drive can simply be formatted without ill effects.)

Please hold down the power button for 20 seconds in order to soft reset the player.

If that fails to resolve the issue then we may need to format your device. Please connect the unit to your computer, go to my computer, right click on the removable drive associated to your player and select format. This will erase all data off the unit and correct errors from it; making the unit usable again. Before clicking on start make sure that the file system is on “FAT32” and that the format options are all unchecked.

Please know that you need to back up your important files first by transfering them from your device to your computer as formating will permanently erase all the data from your device.

Anyway, that didn’t help me with my problem, because mine would not even boot to be mounted.

The second suggestion was much more interesting!

Let us try to put the player in recovery mode. Please turn the player off (hold the power button down for 20 seconds if you have to), then put the hold switch ON. Now hold the record button while you connect it to the computer, keep holding it until it finishes installing the new device. Now attempt to do the firmware update again.

The firmware update he mentioned is here. [Note: dead link. See below]
This did the trick for me, although I actually had to do it twice.

So I’m posting this for anyone else who may be having a similar problem, and wants to reset their player to factory defaults. It’s worth noting that I was pleased with SanDisk support. There was a decent turnaround by their support system, each response was less than eight hours in coming after my request message went off.

One last note: This is the only Sansa player I have, but it’s possible that the above procedures will work with an e230, e240, e260, or e270. Of course, please try it at your own risk. :)

Below is the firmware I downloaded for this article. Please, don’t use this unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing. I highly recommend you use Sandisk’s normal updater instead.


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There are 52 replies to “Fixing a locked up SanDisk Sansa e250 audio player

  1. Ken Gingras

    THANK You a million times over.

    My 15 yo daughter was having a fit when her mp3 player flipped out. You saved the day!



  2. Daniel

    Thanks a bunch man. mine froze up and i was gonna freakin throw it, but i found this page on google. thanks SOOO much

  3. Anonymous


    i thought i was going to have to trash mine or spend alot more money to get it repaired!!!!


  4. Zenu

    DUDE i could NOT find out how to delete all the crappy songs my frined had when he gave it to me. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! FINGER ELEVEN NOW!

  5. Hayleymay

    Hey, my sandisk locked up and I thought I would have to reformat, but I found something else that worked: flick the hold button on, then press the center button and the play button for 30 seconds, then still holding the center button, push the fast fwd button for 30 seconds. I don’t know why, but it worked- the player turned back on and my music was there like nothing had happened. This works both when the player locks with the power off or on.

  6. Anonymous

    Thanks for the tip, but it didn’t work for me. Nothing happened after I plugged it in. Blue light came on, but the PC did not recognize the player. Any other tips?

  7. Junque

    hi- i did all the steps… the updater launched and is scrolling in the sys tray actively.

    its been 20 minutes? i don’t see a status, should it take this long?

    I have an e250 2 gb.


  8. Junque21

    Try this:

    Please copy and paste the following link into your web browser address bar, and then click Go or press the Enter key. When prompted, choose the option to save the file to your Desktop.

    Once you have downloaded the file, please follow these instructions.

    1) Double click on My Computer so that you can see it on your screen.

    2) Turn the player off.

    3) On the top of the player is a Hold switch, move it to the right (toward the headphone jack) so you see Orange.

    4) On the left hand side of the player is a Record button, press and hold while connecting the player to the computer. Continue holding the Record button until you see a new icon under My Computer called 16MB FORMAT. Once you see that icon you may release the Record button.

    5) Double click the file you downloaded earlier and run it. Follow all of the on-screen instructions, and when you get to the prompt where it asks you whether you would like to Format it, choose Yes. Once it is done, click Finish.

    6) Disconnect the player and look at the screen. Several things will be displayed, and when you see Key Lock, System Shutdown, move the Hold switch on the top back to the left.

    7) Turn the player on and watch the screen. If you see a Refresh Database Fail error, you will need to follow steps 1-7 again until you do not get the error. If it does not work the first time, it could take up to 3 times for it to work.

  9. DEE

    Hello! Thank you all for your great advice. I tried the easiest first, which was to open back and take out battery then re-insert. This fixed my issue and the SANSA is up and running. I have the 4G.

    Thanks again! Dee

  10. Shannon

    Thank you soooo much, I thought my poor mp3 player would never come back to life! D= I’m so glad to have it back to normal. Thank you sooo much!!!!!

  11. Ankit

    Hey I don’t know how many people would have benefited from your post and not mentioned it in the comments. But i made sure to thank you :) since you relieved me of any tension since my mp3 player wasn’t working…

    Now its up and running just fine. As much credit goes to you as to google :)

  12. Anonymous

    I agree completely with Hayleymay! with the player OFF, I held the centre button and the play button pressed together for about 10 seconds, then without releasing those 2, I presses play and it was back to life !

  13. Anonymous

    i cant seem to get mine unfrozen i loaded some music a while bach and it froze while refreshing its data base. i tried reseting it but it continous to try to refresh. its been this way for a while . is there a manual way to reset the data completely?

  14. Patty

    Unless you micro sd card is in it. I have checked it for malicious files and viruses. What is the best way to get it to work? Should I put everything on a disc and format it and then put everything back on it or buy a new card?

  15. Drew

    My Sandisk Sansa e250 locked up for the first time in over a year and a half. Thanks to your directions I got it unlocked right away and its already charging again. Thank you for posting this in the garage.

    BTW, I had to reset my sister’s Sandisk e250 when we bought it and these are the same directions tech support gave me back then (but after a year I had forgotten them). It worked then and it works now.

  16. Anonymous

    Thanks you – Thank you – I don’t get why Sandisk makes it so hard to find that file that you have linked.


  17. Jesse

    i can’t connect it in anyway it won’t format threw windows it won’t do anything but show it as a removable drive

  18. Jesse

    it worked this time but now its just worse it shows up as a removable drive again and nothing on it and it won’t let me put in the firmware or anything

  19. Jesse

    i got it half there im stuck at the e200 program it did the new firmware but if i eject it and start it up its back to how it was what do i do next ive been trying to fix this thing for months

  20. Jesse

    i figured out why note to all others with my computer i had to unplug the drive from the usb to computer side or the relaunch wouldn’t start

  21. Ken

    I wanted to say thanks a million I had tried everything and was getting ready to throw it away been trying to fix for 6 months and you hit it on the head couldn’t have done it without you I am back on the road adain

  22. Anonymous


  23. Rusty Shackleford

    My sansa e250 2.0 gb is frozen on the Refresh Database screen and my pc wont even recognize it as anything! The given frimware link wont work. I can shut the device off but when I turn it on, it is still frozen! Ive tried the center button and play button method with no success and ive taken the battery out as well. HELP!!

  24. Anonymous

    The firmware link at the top is broken, then again this post is 4 years old. I found this site via google because this issue is still rearing it’s ugly head. My daughters sansa is doing the “Refreshing database” thing and then freezes at 75%. ARRRGGGG!!!!!!!

  25. Anonymous

    I reformatted from scratch. What did i do? With player off:
    1. Turn on “HOLD”
    2. Press and hold “RECORD” and “Power” buttons (about 5 seconds… look for black screen that will say it is formatting)
    3. Instructions on device say plug in… so plug in cable and connect to computer.
    4. down load the following:
    5. Run the file above.
    6. When complete, your device will tell you to unplug… so unplug.
    7. Device will reformat your ENTIRE device from scratch.

    Best of wishes!

  26. Anonymous

    I had no idea it could be so simple!!! All I had to do was go into format and set back to default settings! I’ve been trying to figure this out on my own for over a month thank goodness I got over my incompetence!

  27. Angie

    Thanks Hayleymay,
    I want to say thank you very for the tip I did not have to reformat this is much easier and I am thrilled.

  28. King James

    I would just like to say that its going on 5 years since you posted this and it’s still 1000 times more effective than the official guide. Thanks for keeping this page up and helping me unbrick my player.

  29. Bob Snelgrove

    That makes no sense… How can you press play the second time when you say to not release it from the first pres?? !!

  30. Anonymous

    please help me..
    i tried all of the above steps but it didnt worked.
    itz rebooting again and again till it battery goes down..
    what should i do???????????

  31. Slytherin's princess

    Yes, if you re-format you do lose all your music, so make sure you have it backed up to a memory stick, a playlist, SOMETHING before you do this. My MP3 is a pain in the ass and won’t let me delete individual songs so I have to re-format every time I want to add or delete songs. A pain, but I don’t have the money for a new one right now so this will have to do.

    On the plus side, THANK YOU soooo much for your helpful tips. I was honestly getting ready to chuck this one out and just say screw it (I have two MP3s, one that stays in my room and one that stays in my purse for when I’m out and about.) Wish I knew where you lived…I would make you a cheescake AND some peanut butter fudge! :)


  32. stix

    thanks so much. i have tried and tried every e200 firmware that is out there. this is the only one that worked for me. this is the one method that worked for me.
    thanks so much.


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