Monday, 8 October 2012

Have You Updated Your VoIP Device Firmware Lately?

We all know that it is good policy to keep our computers updated by regularly downloading the latest updates for Microsoft Windows, Office, Adobe Reader, Flash, Java, AntiVirus  etc. software.  Microsoft now issues regularly scheduled security updates on a monthly schedule (mostly security updates).  Many of these software updates are automatically implemented without user interaction (unless the user has disabled them, or in some cases malware has disabled auto updates).  Not only do regular updates help improve PC security, they often include fixes to software and firmware bugs and functionality.

When was the last time you updated the firmware in your routers, VoIP ATA's, or IP-Phones?
Your routers, ATA's and IP-Phones have built-in firmware that may be of an early version generation.  And as we all know, software and firmware can always be improved upon.  Thus, manufactures of network and VoIP hardware generally provide periodic firmware updates that either improves the performance of the device, or merely fixes errors and bugs that pre-existed in the product's early versions.

Recently, I was having some problems while attempting to reconfigure some settings in my Cisco SPA504G IP-Phone.  I wasn't quite sure what the issues were. (I was starting to suspect corrupted configuration settings due to intermittent Ethernet cable connections while performing configuration changes.)   I then started thinking that I should re-flash the device firmware to eliminate corrupt firmware as a possible cause.

I proceeded to check Cisco's web site to see if there were any firmware updates before attempting to re-flash the device firmware.  Sure enough there were new updates.  And, I was surprised to see just how many updates had been issued since the last time I updated the firmware in my SPA504G.  So, I proceeded to download and and re-flash the phone with these updates.

While, updating the firmware didn't solve the specific issue I was trying to troubleshoot, I was at least satisfied that by re-flashing the firmware I was able to discount corrupt firmware as an issue.  And, I was also now satisfied in knowing that I was currently running the latest firmware version available.

While, I can't possibly provide step-by-step instructions for the myriad of home routers, IP-Phones and ATA's out there, I have previously written a few articles on the procedure I used to update my SPA504G, SPA2102, PAP2T, and Linksys WRT54G (my old router; but now I'm using the Linksys E3000) devices: