Just in Case – How to softmod the Nintendo Wii, completely!

UPDATED: 3/6/2010

Ok, so back in This Post, I gave a quick rundown of how I modded a friend’s Wii up to the point I bricked it. That Wii was running firmware 4.0u and was a virgin LU64+ console.

The part of this where everything was inherently wrong was the fact that I left it on firmware 4.0. Nintendo has long since stopped any piracy efforts (on its end) by presenting a stubbed version of IOS60 on its servers, making any downloads through NUSD or other similar programs useless.

I’ve since received a new console after sending that one in for a warranty repair (“Power/Video Issues”) and have successfully softmodded the new console.

Now, this was already a weird case going in. The console was an LU62xxx serial, but the firmware decided to act as if it were a LU64+ console.

Now, I present to you all, a step-by-step guide to hacking the Nintendo Wii.

What you will be doing:
Installing the Homebrew Channel, Bootmii, and Priiloader. This will allow you to backtrack if need be, giving somewhat of a safety net against accidental bricks.

Installing a custom IOS (cIOS). This allows your system to run backups of games, as well as Wiiware and VC games installed through WAD files.

By the end, this is what your system will be able to do:
Run Wii game ISOs off an External USB Hard Drive.
Play Wiiware and Virtual Console (VC) games that have been installed through WADs.
Place any installed Wiiware and VC games onto your SD card, so as to save space on the Wii’s memory.
Run any homebrew software, such as games, emulators, media players, and other utilities.

This is a barebones, no BS guide to softmodding your Wii. No guarantee is given as to the safety of your Wii, however rest assured all precaution has been taken to make sure these steps are 100% accurate and safe. I am not responsible for any damage caused to your system.

All of these steps must be followed precisely, or else you risk bricking your system.

I’ve chosen the USB Loader method for one simple reason: for less than the price of two Wii games, you can have a small hard drive sitting near your Wii with all your games on it, rather than carrying around multiple DVD-R discs. This saves the hassle of labeling the discs, possibly scratching them, and you don’t have to worry about bad burns. It just seemed easier, and thus I chose the USB method.

For the purposes of this guide, the equipment and PC Software I am using is as follows:
Nintendo Wii running Firmware 4.2u
Western Digital 250gb External Hard Drive (WD2500ME) partitioned 50% WBS, 50% NTFS
Sandisk 2GB SD Card (The white one with the Wii logo on it)
WBFS Manager (for managing games installed to the WBS partition)

To use this guide, you will need THIS TORRENT.

Credits go out to Waninkoko, Wiigator, and all the others who programmed and developed these amazing apps. Your abilities and dedication are pricelss, and we thank you.

Step 1: Preparing the SD card.

Insert your SD card into your PC. If the card has any files on it, copy these to your computer’s hard drive. Format this card as FAT32.

From the torrent linked above, copy the contents of SD_ROOT onto your SD card (my path is I:\ , yours is likely a different letter).

Step 2: Set up your Wii.

This guide assumes you have a wireless connection in your house. Set up your Wii to use this connection. If the network test is successful, then you should be ok. You will be using Network Installations in most of these programs.

Step 3: Installing the HBC and Bootmii.

This torrent includes both the Bannerbomb exploit and the Hackmii installer. For 4.2 systems, Bannerbomb is executed by simply opening the SD card menu from the Wii System Menu (the little SD card icon when your Wii first boots, NOT in the system settings like prior versions!). This should cause the Wii to ask if you would like to load boot.dol/.elf. Say Yes to this.

What will happen now is your system will execute the .elf file that is now on the root of your SD card (which happens to be the Hackmii installer). The menu you see next will have 3 Options: Install HBC, Install DVDX, and Bootmii…

DVDX is nice to have, but not necessary for the purposes of this guide. What you want here is to install the HBC and Bootmii. If your system is a Virgin (i.e. came out of the box with 4.2u) then you likely won’t be able to install Bootmii as a boot2 installation. IF you can install as boot2, then do so. Otherwise, install it as an IOS.

Once you’ve installed both the HBC and Bootmii, exit the installer. This should bring you back to your new best friend, the Homebrew Channel!

This next step is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!!: Press your Home button, and press “Launch BootMii”. Now, on the console itself, press the Power Button until the icon with the gears is highlighted. Press reset, and you’ll see a new selection of icons. The first one should have a green arrow pointing from a microchip to an SD card. Press reset again, and this will begin the process of backing up your NAND.

This is important as, incase anything weird happens after this point, as long as you can get back to BootMii, you can restore your Wii to the way it was at the time of the backup! Nifty, no?

Step 4: Getting the Trucha Bug!
No, you don’t have to catch some weird disease. Back in the Homebrew Channel, load up “Trucha Bug Restorer”. It will ask which IOS to load.
Select IOS36, then on the next menu, select “Downgrade IOS15”.
After the downgraded IOS15 is installed, run TBR again, this time selecting IOS15 as the IOS to load.
You should see a familiar menu. This time, you’re going to enter the IOS36 Menu. Set the options here as follows:
Install IOS to slot: 36
Patch hash check (trucha): yes
Patch ES_Identify: yes
Patch nand permissions: no

Now, install the patched IOS. Once this is done, run TBR for the third time, this time selecting IOS36 as the IOS again, and this time selecting “Restore IOS15”

NOTE: While not completely necessary to restore IOS15, it makes life with the Wii easier later, so go ahead and do it.

Once IOS36 is patched, go back to the Homebrew Channel and load up Priiloader Mod.

You’ll see another black screen with white lettering. In the top left corner, it should read IOS 36 rev 3351. If this is true, press + on the Wiimote to install Priiloader. This is mostly an automated process.

To check that it has installed correctly, power your Wii off completely (red light on the Power Button), then hold down RESET as you turn the system on. You should now see a white screen with a few options in black lettering.

To double-check things are going as planned, look in the bottom left hand corner. This should read IOS v70, Systemmenu v481. The main thing we are concerned with here is if you can boot into the System Menu, the Homebrew Channel, and ESPECIALLY the BootMii IOS from this. Check BootMii IOS. If it goes back to BootMii, everything is good thus far.

NOTE: If you’ve gotten this far with no errors, this is a good place to make another NAND backup in BootMii. If you want to do this, refer to the last part of Step 3 if you don’t remember how!

Step 5: Getting some cIOS action going!

Okay, so if you’ve googled the subject of hacking the Wii, you’ve probably read tons of posts talking about cIOS. Well, we’re going to install it now! πŸ™‚

UPDATE on 3/6/2010: For those of you who are having trouble getting cIOS to install without errors, I’ve discovered that when a Wii is loaded with Firmware 4.2, it has a stubbed IOS249 installed. This prevents cIOS from installing to that slot. If your cIOS has an error when trying to install, go to AnyTitle Deleter in your HBC and use it to delete IOS249. From there, continue with the guide. WARNING: You should ONLY delete 249. Deleting any other IOS may brick your Wii.

Jump back into the HBC, and load up “cIOS38r17 installer”. Don’t worry if it takes a couple seconds to load. You’ll be greeted by a nice rock anthem.

It will ask you to “Select IOS version to use during installation:” You will want to use IOS36 to install this. Select IOS36, then press A until it asks “Select Custom IOS installation mode:” Here, you’ll want to select “Network installation”. Press A again, and it should install cIOS38 rev 17.

Pending its success, this is one of the biggest hurdles in modding the Wii. Well done! πŸ™‚

Now for the fun stuff: getting backups and VC wads to work!

Step 6: USB Loader GX

Ok, for this, you’ll need to put your SD card back in your PC for a bit. Included in the torrent I linked to above was a program named “USBLoaderGX_1.0_Installer.exe”. Once your SD card is back in your PC, run this program.

When selecting components to install, you’ll want to select everything except Cleanup. (You can go without Cheats if you like. These are just some cheat files for use with Ocarina, which is built into USB Loader GX.)

The destination folder should be “X:\apps\usbloader_gx”, where X is the drive letter for your SD Card (I:\ in my case, as I said above).

Once this installs, slide your SD card back into your Wii. Back in the HBC, load up “/apps/WAD Manager 1.5/boot.dol” (the last bit of that will likely be cut off). When selecting an IOS to use, select “IOS249”. Select NAND emulator device should be set to “Disable” and your source device is “Wii SD Slot”.

There should only be one WAD file to select, and that should be USB Loader GX. Select it, and select “Install WAD”.

If this is successful, there will now be a new channel on your Wii System Menu for USB Loader GX. This channel is called a Forwarder, that is, it looks for the USB Loader GX homebrew on your SD Card (which was installed by the installer) and executes it. The channel isn’t actually necessary, but is highly convenient (especially for people who you don’t really want messing around in the homebrew channel!).

At this point, you can now use your External USB Hard Drive to play backups of your Wii games. Simply plug the hard drive into the 2nd USB slot (If your Wii is upright, this is the slot on the left. If the Wii is flat, this is the bottom slot) and run USB Loader GX.

NOTE: USB Loader GX should ask you to format the drive to WBFS. If it doesn’t, then the drive is probably formatted as NTFS. In that case, you’ll need to use WBFS Manager (found here) to format the drive to WBFS. The reason I still suggest WBFS as opposed to NTFS (which USB Loader GX also supports) is that the game image is automatically scrubbed of the “padding data” that Nintendo uses as another Anti-Piracy measure. This means that a game will not take up as much space on the drive (Some games are less than 1GB of actual data, but the ISO image is a full 4.38GB). If you only want to use part of the External Hard Drive for Wii games, you’ll need to partition the drive so that it has one WBFS partition and one other partition (NTFS, FAT32, etc.). This is good for if you’d like to store other files on this drive as well.

At this point, your system can fully run games off of the HDD. For info and other tidbits about this particular process, check USB Loader GX’s website found here.

Step 7: Getting that pesky Wiiware to work right.

Ok, so this is the point where I bricked my system the last time. I’ve got it working right this time though! πŸ˜‰

Ok, so if you were to experiment a bit, you would find that you can install Wiiware and VC titles with WAD Manager 1.5. However, if you try to move these titles over to the SD Card (to run from the SD Menu at the System Menu) you’ll find that these games “Failed to Launch”. Also, if you try to copy them back to the Wii system memory, the data will fail to copy. The cause for this is the lack of the Trucha bug. ‘But didn’t I already install that?’ You’re probably asking, and yes, you did… to IOS36.

We’re going to fix this problem now.

What we have to do now is introduce the Trucha bug into the IOS that the System Menu itself uses. Please note that this is VERY risky, and if ANYTHING messes with this process, your system can be bricked beyond saving (as in, you turn on the system but don’t get video output, which means NO BOOTMII, which means no NAND restore.)

However, barring any sudden power outages (you’re not doing this during a thunderstorm anyways…are you?), you should be perfectly fine.

So, let’s hop back into the HBC and load up “DOP-IOS MOD (v11.1)”. You’ll get a pretty black screen with a red title bar and white letters (is there a subliminal theme amongst Wii programmers?). Press A, and it will ask you “Which IOS would you like to use to install other IOSes?” You want to use IOS36 here, as it already has the Trucha bug patched in (remember using the Trucha Bug Restorer?).

Ignore the option to Install IOS36 (r3351) w/FakeSign. This is what we did earlier.

Selecting IOS36 will give you a menu with several options. To double-check, go ahead and select “Scan the Wii’s internals (SysCheck)” IOS70 should have “Disabled” across the board, while IOS36 should have FakeSign and ES_Identify “Enabled” with Flash, Boot2, and USB 2.0 “Disabled”. If this is the case, press A twice to get back to the main Dop-IOS MOD menu.

Now, you’ll want to select “IOSs” from this menu. Press right until you have IOS70 selected. Press A to install the latest v6687 of IOS70.

When it asks “Are you sure you want to continue?” press A for Yes.

When it asks “Apply FakeSign patch to IOS70?” press A once again for Yes.

When it asks whether to do a WAD installation or Download from NUS, you’ll want to Download from NUS. The program will get the IOS files, patch them, and install them. Once this is done sucessfully, DO NOT UNINSTALL IOS70 UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!! This WILL brick your system!

Once you do this, power cycle your system. If it boots back to the system menu, congrats, you didn’t screw up like I did before. πŸ™‚

To test this, go find a Wiiware or VC WAD file (I hear torrent sites are good for that!) and place the .wad file into the WAD folder on your SD card. Then, using WAD Manager 1.5, install the WAD and move the channel it creates to the SD card. Don’t just copy it, or else it’ll just load it off the system. Once it’s moved, try to run it from the SD Menu.

Did it run? Then congrats, your Wii is fully, completely Softmodded! Play your backups and injected VC titles to your heart’s content!!!


END OF GUIDE

NOTE: Included in the Suite of software I’ve torrented is another program not used in the guide, called AnyTitle Deleter. You shouldn’t have any reason to use this program if you follow my guide precisely. I’ve included it for one reason: Sometimes, the cIOS installation doesn’t work correctly, and it can “stub” itself. If it does this, no amount of reinstalling seems to correct it. So if cIOS just doesn’t seem to install correctly, you can use AnyTitle Deleter to remove IOS249 and attempt a clean install of the cIOS. BIG WARNING HERE THOUGH! It is very easy to brick your system with this program, so BE CAREFUL. If you have kids, nieces, nephews, etc. it would probably be a good idea to DELETE the AnyTitle Deleter from the Homebrew Channel (just select it and hit Delete). Again, this was included as a “Just in Case” factor.

Comments? Suggestions? Thanks? Flames? Post a comment, I promise I’ll read them all! (and even respond to some!)

Till next time,
C.P.

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~ by chadanthony07 on January 30, 2010.

36 Responses to “Just in Case – How to softmod the Nintendo Wii, completely!”

  1. After we done all this, could we just lets see, Get a torrented game on a CD? Instead of using a USB?

    • From what I can tell, you’ll be able to play backup DVD-Rs with other homebrew, such as Neogamma, as easily as USB Loader GX plays off the HDD. Why would you want to burn the discs though when the USB Method is WAY easier, and less vulnerable to errors such as bad burns?

  2. Ok so I followed your guide on to hack my wii I got to step 5 and started having problems I chose the right ios and i chose network install and it said downloads were successful content added successfully then “installing custom ios, please wait… install error! (ret = -1035)” then “finishing installation, please wait… ok!” i guess i thought things went smoothly. Ok from there I probably made some bad choices, I continued following your guide up until step 7 but the usb loader wasn’t working and I went back and said its probably the custom ios installer from step 4. I figured from there that I probably needed to restore to that first backup so I tried to use miirestore and it said error or something if you are sure you want to continue with restore press a+b+x+y and I did and it started restoring after three hours of nothing I shut it off, now, my wii is fine I guess the home brew channel boots my wii runs games and everything fine but bootmii ios says error booting bootmii ios! now so I can’t run it. Please, please help I have no idea what to do.

    • Hmmm….odd. Is your Wii running Firmware 4.2u? I haven’t tested these steps on a non-US console, so if you’re using a European console things might be different.

      Try running the Hackmii installer again and reinstalling Bootmii. If that works, then restore your NAND backup. Make sure you’re pressing the right buttons when you do the restore, it can be kind of finicky (also, you’re using a Gamecube controller when restoring the backup, correct?).

      Let me know what works for you. You have to make sure cIOS is installed perfectly before the USB loader will work, as it uses cIOS to run.

  3. Its 4.2u and I’m pretty sure its a US console. I’ll try running Hackmii again and yes I’m using a Gamecube controller.

  4. Ok so I reinstalled bootmii, it runs now I went to run bootmii recovery and it says, “checking boot2…
    Bootmii not found, too dangerous to continue! If your SD is corrupt or the restore is interrupted, you will be unable to boot to fix it. If you are sure you want to do thins, press a+b+x+y otherwise, press any key to exit.” is that normal and should I continue if not what do I do?
    Thanks

    • Unfortunately, it is normal. The unfortunate part is that, yeah, if the power goes out or anything funky happens while the backup is getting restored, then it will irreparably brick your system. However, Bootmii is a solid program, and only user error or a power flux should upset the restore. Just make sure you’re doing this on a sunny day πŸ˜›

      If you’re not comfortable with restoring right now, then you can maybe use AnyTitle Deleter (included with my torrent) to uninstall IOS249. Whatever you do, DO NOT delete any other IOSes, especially IOS70! After it is removed, try to reinstall cIOS.

      If you have preloader working, things are a bit safer, but still be careful!

  5. I got the cIOS to install without the restore. I don’t think my backup is there anymore so I couldn’t restore it. Anyway it said cIOS was successful then I installed the USB Loader GX. I tried loading it and it said “exception (dsi) occurred! gpr00″(to 31) and then it said “stackdump: #######–>######–>######–>######
    Code Dump: ######: ########
    ######: ########
    ######: ########
    Reloading in 5 seconds
    reload”(the #’s stand for numbers and letters) after that there was no more action. I waited ten minutes for it to do something but nothing happened. I’m really only trying to get this to work so I can play back-ups of my wii games on my external hard drive, so I was trying to get this to work.
    Thank you very much

  6. Sounds like your Wii is just being whiney. Is your console an LU64+?

    It may just be the forwarder as well. Sometimes USB Loader GX’s forwarder doesn’t like to work. Try running it from the homebrew channel.

  7. Same here I have a 4.2 u us console and followed your guide and everything went as planned upto step 5 when loading cIOS38R17 from network install the cIOS is downloaded but the install fails (ret= – 1035). What do I do from here

  8. By far the best guide I’ve seen online for this. But I have a dumb question.

    Step 7 concerning WiiWare – does this have to be done? Could I still go on the Shop Channel and buy these and play them normally or no? I was just reading over the part where it could possibly brick and I’m a little concerned about it.

  9. step 4: downgrade IOS15… its asks if i want to (load IOS from sd card) or (load IOS from usb storage) or (download IOS from NUS)??? all seem to fail. any ideas?

    • I’m now past step 4. I’ve just completed step five, but i too had this message: >>Title downloaded successfully!, [+] Adding contents, please wait… >>content #21 #22 #23 added successfully! then: [+] Installing custom IOS, please wait… >>install ERROR! (ret = -1035), then: [+] β€œfinishing installation, please wait… ok!” then; press any button to restart… what now?

  10. @kwhite1988 – Step 7 doesnt have to be done. Just make sure you use DOP-IOS MOD to update the Wii shop channel. I promise you though, I went through that step very thouroughly. Done or not, you can still purchase and play Wiiware normally. Just update the IOSes in DOP IOS that say the Shop Channel uses them.

    @bob – As I said at the bottom of the guide, cIOS can be finicky to install. If it gets part way through the install, but fails, try using AnyTitle Deleter to remove IOS249. Then attempt to install again, making sure that you select IOS36 and that it is Trucha signed.

  11. Thank you very much for the help!

  12. Cheers! its all good =)

  13. Sorry to trouble you again with what I’m sure is dumb questions, but I seem to be in a snag at step 4.

    I can’t really tell when the IOS is done doing what it needs to be doing. For example, when I try to install patched IOS36, it says “Getting IOS36 revision 3351…” forever and I don’t know when it’s done. Same for restoring IOS15. Yet when I tried to start Priiloader, it does say IOS36 rev 3351 in the upper left hand corner, but when I try to install it, it just asks if IOS36 is trucha signed, and then it just aborts.

    Am I screwed? I’m sorry if this seems confusing, but that’s what it says and I’m at a loss.

  14. Hey bro i just wanted to say this is the best guide so far.i’ve run thought about five different guides and none worked.yours did!!!thanks again

    • Thanks, that was ultimately my goal, because I was like you, the information was there it was just scattered. I just wanted to compile it. Happy homebrewing!

  15. when I try to run USBLoaderGX_1.0_Installer.exe it starts the install and then says “download failed: resolving hostname”

    internet connection works on this xp sp3 machine

    • It could just be that their server went down for a bit. Try it again, maybe from a different machine or network. USBLoaderGX doesn’t require an internet connection once installed, so if you can at least get the files onto your card you should be fine. Let me know what works for you via Direct Message on Twitter or on my Facebook Fan Page!

  16. ok im stuck at step one put in sd card and clicked sd card its says loading then nothing . did i do something wrong ?

    • No! If you bought the SD card brand new, there won’t be anything on it.

      Simply open it from My Computer (or the Mac or Linux equivalent) and copy the files in the torrent I provided onto it.

      If this doesn’t answer your question, then I need a little more detailed information. Just let me know!

  17. I have a problem once i get to step 7. Everytime i get toe the select IOS Version screen my WII remote turns off and i cant get it to connect to i can press A to download. Whats going on?

    • Which IOS are you trying to use? It will freeze and crash if you try using an IOS that isn’t there, is stubbed, or doesn’t have the trucha bug.

      You should have CIOS installed before using WAD Manager. After it is successfully installed, make sure you use IOS 249 for WAD Manager.

  18. My WAD Manager is not working. My controller turns off everytime i try to install it.

  19. Slight problem – I can’t boot into bootMii from priiLoader at the end of step 4.
    I’ve followed everything, and it all worked successfully…up until this point.

  20. To my above comment: never mind.
    The problem was, I installed bootMii to boot2 as recommended, which for whatever reason prevents priiLoader from loading into it.
    To fix this issue, I completely uninstalled bootMii, and then install it as IOS only. After doing this, priiLoader loads it perfectly.

    • Actually, boot2 is the recommended way of installing BootMii, as this allows recovery from (almost) all bricks. If you’re able to install BootMii as boot2, then your SD card should now hold a BootMii folder. If it does, your wii will boot into Bootmii automatically. To disable this, simply rename the folder (ex. BootMiiBAK).

      I’m planning another update to this guide, as some newer games are starting to cause problems. Also, a WAD manager update.

  21. Alright, so even if installing BootMii to boot2 doesn’t let me boot through priiLoader, I should still install it that way?

    Also, thanks for the guide, but as you said an update is needed.
    This guide got me about 4/5 of the way to playing games off my USB drive, but I also had to delete some IOS stubs and install a custom IOS(cIOS222 v4 I believe).

    • Yes, boot2 is definitely the preferred way to install BootMii, as it can even prevent bricks that come about like when I was modding my friend’s 4.0 console (luckily still under warranty!).

      I’m planning some changes to the blog, so as I begin to put those into effect I will update the guide as well.

      For now, just know that it is recommended you remove all stubbed IOSes as well as install Hermes’ cIOS222/223 as IOS37 merged with IOS38.

  22. i’m also stuck at step 1.
    i formatted a new sd card for fat 32.
    copied the sd-root files onto the card.
    the wii doesn’t read any files when i put the card in and try to read it. either from the main wii menu or the system menu.
    pease help

    • Did you use Bannerbomb to install the homebrew channel? That is the first step after putting the files on your SD card. Read ahead a little, maybe you’ll understand πŸ™‚

  23. Ok.. so i was performing an NAND backup after completing step 4. The SD card was removed from the Wii and the backup froze on the sccreen. Is my Wii bricked now? What can I do to resolve this?

    • It shouldn’t be bricked, although you might possibly have to reformat your SD card. My advice is set everything back to factory, reformat the SD card, and try again.

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