Digital Cable Box Won't Reset

By Eoghan McCloskey

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Anyone who has used a cable box has likely had to reset it more than once. A reset is the first thing any tech support representative will have you do to troubleshoot any problems your box is experiencing, and for good reason -- a reset can often solve many of the most common technical issues associated with cable boxes. If a box is experiencing serious malfunctions, however, you may encounter difficulty in getting it to reset. In this case, attempt several other troubleshooting steps.

Manual Power Down

If you are attempting to reset your cable box using the power button on your remote control, try powering down the cable box using the power button on the front panel of the box. This may seem like an obvious step, but a loss of communication between your remote and your box is a more common technical error than you might assume, and many customers falsely conclude that their box will not reset when the problem is actually that the power down command is not communicating from the remote to the box. If the front panel button still does not power down the box, however, some further troubleshooting is required.

Front Panel Reset

Depending on the make and model of cable box you use, a front panel reset using a combination of buttons may be an alternative option to reset the box. Scientific Atlanta brand cable boxes, for example, can be reset by holding down the "volume up," "volume down" and "info" buttons simultaneously until the box shuts down. Other kinds of boxes can be reset using different button combinations; consult the box's documentation if you are not sure of the exact button sequence to use for your box.


If you are unable to determine the button sequence used to reset your cable box or if the front panel box does not succeed in resetting the box, a powercycle is the next logical step. A powercycle involves removing the power cord from either the back of the cable box or the electrical outlet into which it is plugged for a full 30 seconds. Plug the power cord back in after 30 seconds and check the box to see if it has fully reset.

Contacting Your Provider

If the box still does not reset at this point, something is seriously wrong with it. The box will in all likelihood need to be replaced. It is useful to first contact the technical support department of your cable provider, however. Tech support reps can send "hard reset" or "cold reboot" signals to your box that force the box into a reset. If the box does need to be replaced, the tech support rep can setup a work order to have a technician replace the box or can go through your other options for having the box replaced.