Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TFTP client for Router firmware upgrade

Last week, I spent some hours trying to reload the firmware on an old Linksys router. Normally you can update a router's firmware via its console (, but the console sometimes doesn't work on failing routers, such as the one I was troubleshooting.

An alternative method for firmware updates involves using TFTP (Trivial File Transfer Protocol). TFTP is a simplified version of FTP that most routers can support.

Like FTP, TFTP requires you to use a client program to talk to the receiving device. Operating systems like Windows have a command line utility called 'tftp' that functions as the client. Linksys provides a free TFTP client with a graphic interface (GUI) that you may prefer using instead of the command line.

The Linksys TFTP client offers similar functionality to the command line. Through their utility you specify the location of the firmware .bin file, the router's administrative password, and its IP address. The client displays status and error messages as would appear on the command line, and the GUI can be set to automatically retry a firmware download if it fails on the initial attempt. The client also works with other TFTP capable routers, not just Linksys ones.

Unfortunately, even though I could ping the router I was troubleshooting at its default address (, the router's TFTP server was not functional and I was unable to establish a TFTP connection through either the Linksys GUI or Windows command line. It happens. For download


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