Loading a New IOS Image


You want to upgrade the IOS image that your router uses.


The copy tftp command allows you to use TFTP to download a new IOS version into the router's flash memory:

Router1#copy tftp:// flash:
Destination filename [c2600-ik9o3s-mz.122-12a.bin]? 
Accessing tftp://
Erase flash: before copying? [confirm] 
Erasing the flash filesystem will remove all files! Continue? [confirm] 
Erasing device... eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ...erased
Erase of flash: complete
Loading c2600-ik9o3s-mz.122-12a.bin from (via FastEthernet0/0.1): !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[OK - 11135588 bytes]

Verifying checksum... OK (0xE643)
11135588 bytes copied in 82.236 secs (135410 bytes/sec)
Router1# reload
Proceed with reload? [confirm] 



Sooner or later you will need to upgrade your router's IOS image. Common reasons for upgrading the IOS include new features, bug fixes, and security vulnerabilities. Before you attempt to upgrade your IOS, you should save a backup copy of your current IOS to your TFTP server, as discussed in Recipe 1.9.

You should always start by analyzing how much free space is available in your router's flash to ensure that there is enough space to load the new IOS image. If there isn't enough, then you may have to erase existing image(s) from flash as we did in our example. And in some cases, you may not have enough flash to load the new image at all. You can use the show flash command to see how much flash memory is available:

Router1#show flash

System flash directory:
File Length Name/status
 1 11135588 c2600-ik9o3s-mz.122-12a.bin 
[11135652 bytes used, 5117276 available, 16252928 total]
16384K bytes of processor board System flash (Read/Write)


Some routers can support additional flash memory in the form of PCMCIA cards. The show slot0: and show slot1: commands will give you details about these additional storage locations. You can store IOS images on the flash cards, but keep in mind that the router will load the first available IOS image in the router's main flash by default. Recipe 1.7 shows how to boot the router by using IOS images located on flash cards.

Before you can load an IOS image to your router, you must, of course, download the appropriate image from Cisco or purchase it on CD media. You will then need to move the new image into the TFTP directory to ensure that the file is world readable. On Unix systems, you can use the chmod command to do this. If the file is not world readable, the TFTP process will not be able to access it, and the IOS upgrade will fail. You should also do some simple sanity checks on the file by confirming the file size is correct and that the checksum or MD5 "fingerprint" match the values provided by Cisco. We note in passing that it would be extremely unwise to use an IOS image that was not created and supported by Cisco.

The router will do several tests while loading a new IOS image to ensure that the process goes smoothly. The first test is to see whether the TFTP server has the specified file:

Router1#copy tftp:// flash:
Destination filename [c2600-ik9o3s-mz.122-14.bin]? 
Accessing tftp://
%Error opening tftp:// (No such file or directory)

Here you can see that the router tried to find the file on the TFTP server before going any further, and discovered that it was not present. If the file exists and the permissions are correct, then the router will continue with the dialogue. If your TFTP server keeps detailed logs of activity, you will see an aborted TFTP file transfer as the router checked to see if the file was available. These aborted attempts are normal and shouldn't cause concern. If the requested file is present but not world-readable, the router will show an error message and abort the upgrade process:

Router1#copy tftp:// flash:
Destination filename [c2600-ik9o3s-mz.122-12a.bin]? 
Accessing tftp://
%Error opening tftp:// (Permission denied)

Aborting the upgrade early in the process like this ensures that you don't erase the flash unless there is a suitable replacement image available for download.

In the next step in the download process, you must tell the router whether or not to erase the flash before downloading a new image. If there is enough room available in flash then you can load the new image without erasing the existing image or images. However, if you attempt to download an image and you don't have enough flash space available, then the router will protest and abort the procedure:

Router1#copy tftp:// flash:
Destination filename [c2600-ik9o3s-mz.122-12a.bin]? 
Accessing tftp://
Erase flash: before copying? [confirm]n
Loading c2600-ik9o3s-mz.122-12a.bin from (via FastEthernet0/0.1): !
%Error copying tftp:// (Not enough space on device)

The process of upgrading your router's IOS image is fairly forgiving. The router performs sanity checks throughout the process to ensure that image integrity is maintained. After downloading the image, the router does one final sanity check and verifies the image's checksum. This ensures that the IOS image was not corrupted during transmission. If the image does not pass the verification test, attempt your download again and do not reload the router.

You can manually check to see if the IOS checksum is correct by using the verify command. We show how to use the verify command in Recipe 1.10.

If the IOS upgrade goes smoothly and the checksum verifies correctly, then it is safe to reboot your router to load the new IOS image. Once the router becomes reachable again, you should verify the new IOS loaded correctly with the show version command:

Router1#show version
Cisco Internetwork Operating System Software 
IOS (tm) C2600 Software (C2600-IK9O3S-M), Version 12.2(12a), RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)
Copyright (c) 1986-2002 by cisco Systems, Inc.
Compiled Tue 24-Sep-02 02:05 by pwade
Image text-base: 0x8000808C, data-base: 0x8127FF40

ROM: System Bootstrap, Version 11.3(2)XA4, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)

Router1 uptime is 2 minutes
System returned to ROM by reload
System restarted at 11:53:26 EST Sat Jan 11 2003
System image file is "flash:c2600-ik9o3s-mz.122-12a.bin"

cisco 2621 (MPC860) processor (revision 0x102) with 45056K/4096K bytes of memory.
Processor board ID JAB04130B2Q (1293133440)
M860 processor: part number 0, mask 49
Bridging software.
X.25 software, Version 3.0.0.
2 FastEthernet/IEEE 802.3 interface(s)
2 Serial network interface(s)
32K bytes of nonvolatile configuration memory.
16384K bytes of processor board System flash (Read/Write)

Configuration register is 0x2102


In this example, you can see that the router's boot sequence completed successfully correctly and that it's running the new IOS version. Also, notice that the router's new system image file matches the name of the file we just downloaded. This indicates the IOS upgrade was completely successful.

See Also

Recipe 1.7; Recipe 1.9; Recipe 1.10

Router Configuration and File Management

Router Management

User Access and Privilege Levels


IP Routing





Frame Relay

Handling Queuing and Congestion

Tunnels and VPNs

Dial Backup

NTP and Time


Router Interfaces and Media

Simple Network Management Protocol





First Hop Redundancy Protocols

IP Multicast

IP Mobility




Appendix 1. External Software Packages

Appendix 2. IP Precedence, TOS, and DSCP Classifications


Cisco IOS Cookbook
Cisco IOS Cookbook (Cookbooks (OReilly))
ISBN: 0596527225
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 505

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