Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Why i can't download IOS => "Service contract required" ???!!!

Elrick Landon


I try to update IOS for my router (Cisco 2821 ).

When i click to download button, i receive this message : Service contract required

What can i do for upgrade IOS on my hardware ? Is it needed to pay for this ? WTF ?

Thks for your advise in advance.

Best Regards.

30 Replies 30

Phillip Remaker
Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

This is true.   You can read more at:

Cisco software updates do require a service contract.  A service contract also provides phone support, hardware replacement and access to advanced tooling on

You can get software updates without a service contract to fix security problems. 

You can find platform-relevant security issues and related mitigation instructions at

I know this is old, but this is an idiotic policy. Network vendors who's low-end devices are sold online by NewEgg and CDW really have to provide easy access to firmware updates without the runaround. When the next massive IOS based exploit is released, and the internet is falling to its knees, I'll be the first to sign up for the class action suite blaming Cisco for negligence. Really. We just want to secure our devices.

I agree with Andrew. 

A company trading in network security appliances shouldn't restrict users from downloading updates. 



Most low-end devices that offer "free" software updates get updated only a few times before the vendor stops providing fixes at all. The fix for any future problems is to buy new hardware.  Many bugs are never fixed on such devices, only very critical problems.

Cisco has a very serious commitment to hardware longevity and providing ongoing software updates and maintenance.  Any device that is subject to a known exploit is eligible for a complimentary software upgrade through the PSIRT program.  (

For ordinary ongoing maintenance and access to the constant stream of software improvements, Cisco requires that a device be under a service contract. 



"Most low-end devices..."

"Many bugs are never fixed..."

I'm not interested in your anecdotal evidence. My experience has been the opposite. My Asus consumer wireless router had 5 firmware updates in the last year. The updates are checked for automatically from the dashboard panel, and the user is alerted whenever there's a new release. Installation is as easy as a click of a button.  So don't give me some BS about "low end" devices not providing firmware updates.

If Cisco was so serious about providing timely updates and making them convenient for users to install, they wouldn't require them to jump through hoops just to get a security update. Nobody's looking for a free ride, or extra features. We paid a lot for the features we require. We just don't like to be nickel and dimed, and/or forced to subscribe to meaningless marketing/data harvesting programs just so we can be assured that our appliances are secure. I'm busy, and so are my many colleagues out there, and frankly we're sick of being treated like second class citizens because we don't have million dollar contracts.

Hello, this problem become really sarcastic, i can believe my eyes when i see that for just grab the last NBAR2 version, we need a valid service contract... serious Cisco, this is not fair at all... so people need to stay your customer for live -:( ? This policy need to be improve... can you imagine, we are in a far region in Africa, a company deploy our network as turnkey project, and now we can't even make a basic upgrade to improve our network stability...
I suggest you to do not allow reseller to sell your device and sell it directly to end users.
As i understood if you purchase a used Cisco Router, you will never access on IOS Upgrade... sorry but for me it's too commercial aggressive politic... Cheers

This is exactly what cisco wants and is actually doing.. They just dont say it clearly cause they will get canceled immediately. But its now a known fact that cisco gives a **bleep** about its costumers. 

Mr Remaker,

Do you consider HP to be "low-end" ?

About longevity. Their procurve 2500 series was released in 2000. And they made firmware updates until nov 2015.


"just updated a few times". There has been 80 updates so far for the aruba 2530 series.

And with HP, you type the reference of the switch, you download the firmware. Period. No contract needed. You don't even have to sign in !
And that works for their Aruba/Procurve and FlexFabric (ex 3COM) product lines. And probably others (haven't tested the others though).

The reason I'm here is because I wanted to download a firmware for an Aironet 702i access point which no longer boots due to the file being corrupted.
I know how to fix it. I just need the file. The original file, I don't even want an update.
But even for that the website yells at me "Service Contract Required".

I need a service contract for that ? Seriously ?

Bingo. This service contract BS and nickel-and-diming is exactly why I have moved my entire county off of Cisco products and onto HP/HPE stuff.  Firmware is free, wildly easier to manage/update than Cisco, and even the CLI syntax is easier to use than Cisco.

Leo Laohoo
VIP Community Legend VIP Community Legend
VIP Community Legend
What can i do for upgrade IOS on my hardware ? Is it needed to pay for this ? WTF ?

A few years ago, Cisco had put a "gentleman's agreement" when it comes to downloading IOS.  This means that you are FREE to download any IOS as long as you have a valid Service Contract.  Cisco has stopped this from happening after they discovered people were abusing this goodwill when they download, for example, Advanced IP Services IOS when they never bought license-to-use this feature set in the first place.

Now, if you bought an appliance from a valid Cisco dealer, you can get the dealer to furnish you with the service contract which associates to the serial number of the Cisco product(s) you now own.  However, this also means you need to pay for the "right" to download software.  It's like buying a computer.  You still need to purchase additional software.

Just for the record, let me clarify some terminology.

An update is when you get software of a newer version but the mostly same capbility.

An upgrade is when you get software of substantially improved capability or new features in a feature family.

A feature set upgrade is when you move up to a different licensed set of features.

In general, service contracts will get you updates and ugrades, but feature set upgrades will require a purchase (just like going from Windows Home to Windows Ultimate, for example)

The issue that Leo refers to was the January 2011 change where software center started a more rigourous enforcement of access based on covered products, which prevented users from downloading software for devices and device families for which they had no service contract.  Customers have always needed a service contract to download Cisco IOS; the change merely disabled the ability to inadventently download software for which no active service contract existed.

For more details on the Software Download center, please see

I'm willing to buy the a service contract for a 2921 router the EOL was yesterday. Where to buy it? At least we can buy it

OK, I know this thread is an old one, but I made the effort to register, log in and post here. 


First off I really am not intending any of this to seem as a flame or the like, seriously I am not. If at any point it starts to sound that way, stop reading as its not coming across as intended. 


Like a good few out there (oh and there are a good number if you look), I had some issues with my home based wifi and decided to splash out and get some higher end equipment. I had a look at Cisco and another enterprise competitor, and decided that whilst as a home user I really couldn't justify the cost of the equipment new I saw Cisco at work, and in various places, and it was seen as one of the more solid companies out there. I could have bought a consumer unit new, but I bought a second hand Cisco AP thinking that this would probably do me for a very very long time. I obtained the unit from everyones favourite auction house after a good bit of thinking on what would suit my needs, and a lovely Cisco box arrived at my door. It wasn't working as intended and I was told by some of the networking chaps I know that Cisco would have a newer firmware on the website and that would sort out what I wanted. 


Again, I'm a _home_ user. Fully understand that I'm more than 2 standard deviations from what Cisco would consider its customer base, but thought that I would have a look on the website. Like so many here I found exactly what I was after for the hardware I bought, but its paywalled. No option for home users to have a discounted one time purchase, or cheaper access like some other companies offer. I asked about on the cost of what a service contract would be (note I _only_ wanted the firmware .... no telephone support .... no tools). I'm at the point where I am a little more than dismayed at this attitude towards a single firmware download. 


I get that keeping things up to date costs cash, time and effort. I really do, and like others here, I'm not looking for a free lunch, I'm just trying to stop older corporate equipment from headed to landfill. It is overkill for my current needs, and I would have got a kick out of using it on my network here at home. 


I kind of feel the "its like a computer you need to pay for the software" line is a little bit of a tough pill to swallow given that I can get any manner of different operating system updates for free. Microsoft do it, as do Apple. Yes you buy the program, but as a home user I don't pay for patches or updates. Upgrades on the other hand I will happily pay for. This unit already has a firmware on it and an old one at that, so it already has the "software", I just wanted the newer one to patch some of the snags in getting it to work at home.


Anyhoo, as I am getting slightly off topic. I just find it a bit disappointing that a company like Cisco would paywall an update to a firmware. I'm not looking to pick a fight, not looking to ruffle someones feathers, not looking even for a reply. Just felt the need to post my comment. I would have paid for the firmware at the moment, but not a full service contract. I don't need it, I just needed the firmware. 


As for my AP, it doesn't work properly at the moment, as I appreciate that I bought it second hand I have no way of returning it. Just the fact that a firmware paywall is all that's stopping me from using this device. As its an end of life unit, I'll have a looky inside and keep it on a shelf, its my first bit of Cisco kit after all. From this experience, it will probably be my first, and last Cisco product as I clearly cannot afford the "upkeep".


As for the competitor, I just checked their site and ALL the firmwares are available with no contract required. Will scout one of those on the bay soon, I unfortunately cannot justify spending cash on a contract for a firmware upgrade now, only to potentially need one again in the future and need another contract then. 


Don't get me wrong, I really do like Cisco products. Hence why I spent my cash on a second hand unit rather than a new consumer access point. I would still hold the Cisco brand in high regard, but I sure as heck would point out to folk that any updates are paywalled. 


I can only hope that Cisco change their mind about how they treat firmwares in the future. Heck I wouldn't mind if I was charged $5 for the firmware, that would irk some given the competitors attitude towards firmwares, but I can understand development costs, testing, hosting, and archiving all cost money and I am happy to pay for that. 


As I said, not meant to ruffle any feathers, not come across as a rant, if what I have said above seems that way all I can say is to reread it from the point of view of someone with a great bit of equipment, but will never get to use it. 


No response needed as I probably won't be back, I just logged in to have my say and move on. 


If you got this far, thank you for reading. 


-A home electronics enthusiast


I know this is an old post, but it still pops up in google, so I decided to add my two cents.

I think Cisco is shooting themselves in the foot. There are plenty of their images available on different websites and at the same time there are plenty of people not careful enough to verify the checksum of the file downloaded from illegal source. This is very dangerous, because all those powerful cisco boxes may end up with modified firmware and become a member of large botnet. To limit the amount of illegal image distribution Cisco should at least allow second hand owners to register device and to download the very last licensed firmware registered to its serial number. I think this would be a win situation for all. Especially for those folks that want to get into Cisco world, but don't have enough money for the certification program.   

Getting Started

Find answers to your questions by entering keywords or phrases in the Search bar above. New here? Use these resources to familiarize yourself with the community:

Recognize Your Peers