RouterOS Upgrade Process

The process of upgrading RouterOS is very simple and, yet, is still somewhat confusing for some folks.  I will attempt to detail some of the methods as well as some of the finer nuances here.

In this article, we will discuss manual upgrade methods for upgrading a RouterOS Device.  I will also discuss the BIOS firmware upgrade process.  The overall process for upgrading your RouterBoard is to FIRST upgrade the BIOS to whatever is available in the currently installed RouterOS and THEN upgrade RouterOS.  Finally, you want to upgrade the BIOS again (if there is a newer version available in the upgraded RouterOS).  I’ll detail a bit more of this process at the end of this article.

The BIOS firmware for the routerboard product line ( is included with the RouterOS software or it can be manually downloaded from the website.  I won’t cover the upgrade methods for updating the firmware that you download from the RouterBoard website.  For every routerboard product you have that is running RouterOS, you can issue the console command: “/system routerboard print” to see the BIOS firmware version that was included with your current version of RouterOS.  To reach the console, you can use ssh, telnet or click “New Terminal” in Winbox.  Enter the above command in that terminal to see the current BIOS firmware status as follows:

[admin@Mikrotik] > /system routerboard print
routerboard: yes
model: "433"
serial-number: "xxxxxxxxxxxxx"
current-firmware: "2.23"
upgrade-firmware: "2.23"

As you can see, there are several pieces of information available here.  It shows that this IS a routerboard product and that it is model number 433.  The board’s serial number is included as well.  The last 2 lines are the ones that are of interest to us here.  It shows the currently installed BIOS firmware version AND the available firmware version that is included in your currently installed RouterOS software.  The upgrade process is very easy as well.  If there is an upgrade available (the upgrade-firmware is newer than the current-firmware), you simply type “/system routerboard upgrade”.  The system will recommend that you reboot to complete the upgrade.  To reboot, simply type “/system reboot” and answer “Y” to the prompt.

The basic process of upgrading RouterOS involves transferring the software to your router and rebooting the router.  You can head over to Mikrotik’s download page to grab the latest files for your hardware platform.  One method to transfer these files is simple ftp.  Just ensure that the ftp service is enabled under IP->Services (Winbox) and then use your favorite ftp client to connect to your router.  Transfer the file you downloaded (routeros software) to the ROOT DIRECTORY of the “ftp server”.  You can also transfer the file from your PC to the router in Winbox by clicking on File (on the left menu) and simply “dragging” the file from your desktop and “dropping” it on the file list.  Again, be certain that you drop it into the ROOT DIRECTORY of the file list.  One final method of transferring a file to the router is using the fetch command.  I won’t cover ALL the functionality of the fetch command since it is documented HERE, but I will show you 2 example usages.  The first assumes you have uploaded the upgrade files to your ftp server.  First, the command:

/tool fetch mode=ftp address= user=loginname password=mypassword src-path=/MT_Software/4.x/mipsbe/routeros-mipsbe-4.11.npk

The above command will download the file located at “/MT_Software/4.x/mipsbe/routeros-mipsbe-4.11.npk” from the ftp server at using username “loginname” and password “mypassword”.   The above parameters are all required for the ftp mode with the fetch command.  Another example:

/tool fetch address= src-path=/MT_Software/4.x/mipsbe/routeros-mipsbe-4.11.npk

This command will use the http protocol to download “” to the router.  SO, using ONE of the above methods to transfer the file TO your router, you are left with the need to reboot the router and it will automatically upgrade.

This is, perhaps, a little out of order, but you must ensure that you have the proper license permissions to upgrade to the version you want to install.  Additionally, Mikrotik has made it possible to upgrade from a very long time ago to upgrade all the way to the Version 5 betas if you do things in the right order.  Some time back, Mikrotik’s licensing was based on a certain amount of time.  In other words, you purchased a license, for instance,  that permitted you to upgrade to the latest available version for a period of 1 year (more time for the more expensive licenses).  More recently, Mikrotik has changed this policy such that your license purchase is not based on time, but is based on a MAJOR version change.  What this means is that you purchase a license for the version 3 series and you are able to install RouterOS version 3.ANYTHING.  When version 4 comes out, you will have to purchase another license to install that version.  At least that’s how it’s documented. Read on…

Before I continue, I want to explain exactly how you can determine what your upgrade options are.  In a terminal, you can type “/system license print” to get the details of your license.  It will either tell you that your version of RouterOS is upgradable until a certain date (if you have version 2.9.27 or older) or it will tell you it is upgradable to a certain version number (2.9.28 or newer).  You can see the same information in Winbox by clicking on SYSTEM->License.  Either way, once you know what your license will allow, the only thing you need is the current version of RouterOS you are running.  You can find this in several ways.  It is displayed as part of the title bar for Winbox when you are connected to a router.  If you are connected via a terminal, SSH or Telnet, it is displayed when you first login.  You can also see the current version with the “/system package print” command.

If you have the right versions of RouterOS, you can upgrade nearly every router you own all the way to version 5 (when it is released) regardless of what the license tells you.  This is not some “hack” or theft of service, but is documented by Mikrotik themselves.  The first change in the licensing scheme took place between version 2.9.27 and 2.9.28.  If you are running version 2.9.27 (or newer), you can locate a version 2.9.28 of RouterOS and upgrade to that version.  Then, you’ll want to upgrade the BIOS (if needed).  The next step in the upgrade path is from 2.9.28 to 2.9.51 (the latest in the 2.9 series).  Again, upgrade the BIOS.  It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that failure to be running the BIOS version 2.12 or higher (available in 2.9.51) WILL BRICK a 532 board when upgraded to 3.x.  At least it’s very likely to do so.  After running the upgrades to 2.9.51, you will note that “/system license print” shows that you are upgradable to version 3.x.  You can download and install 3.30 and upgrade direct to this version from 2.9.51.  Following the RouterOS upgrade, you MUST upgrade the BIOS again before you upgrade further.  At this point, you can connect by winbox to your router.  Click SYSTEM->License.  There is a button on the bottom right side of the window that pops up that says “Update License”.  This updated license will (following the required reboot) change your license to one that permits you to upgrade to version 4.x (no extra cost here).  This step MUST be performed BEFORE you upgrade to version 4.x.  If you do decide to upgrade to 4.11 (currently, the latest in the 4.x series), your license changes once again to indicate that you are upgradable to version 5.x.

Well, that’s about as much as there is to upgrading.  It’s quite simple.  Feel free to add comments or questions.

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