Best Practices – Performing a Firewall Upgrade

Performing a firmware upgrade

Upgrading a firewall is something that should be compared to upgrading the operating system on your computer. It’s not to be taken lightly! You want to make sure everything is backed up and you have some options available if things go awry. Assuming it all seems to work you also want a list of things to do in order to confirm everything is working properly. Finally, you need enough time to do it. All really simple stuff, but what does this mean in relation to upgrading your FortiGate? It means, you follow these simple steps:

  1. Backup and store old configuration (full configuration backup from CLI).

Digging into this a little, step 1 is easy to understand. Do a full backup of your old configuration. This is all part of your disaster recovery plan. If the upgrade fails in some way you need to make sure you can get the Firewall back up and running. The best way to do this is to get it back to a state where you know what the behavior was. For more information, refer to “Performing a configuration backup” on page 17.

  1. Have copy of old firmware available.

Step 2, is also part of your disaster recovery. If the upgrade fails you might be able to switch the active partition. But as a Professional, you need to be prepared for the worst case scenario where you can’t do that. Which means you’ll need your old firmware.

  1. Have disaster recovery option on standby — especially if remote.

Step 3, is your plan for what to do in the event of a critical failure. As we’re talking FortiGate this means that your firewall doesn’t come back after the upgrade. What this means is that you need to be able to get to the console port in order to find out why. Maybe it’s DHCP and the IP changed, maybe the OS is corrupt, who knows? Get to the console and find out.

There could be a simple fix. If there’s not, then be prepared for a format and TFTP reload.

  1. Read the release notes, including the upgrade path and bug information.

Step 4, READ THE RELEASE NOTES. They contain all kinds of information, known bugs, fixed bugs even upgrade issues like lost configuration settings. Not all upgrade information is ever contained in any products release notes. That does not mean they are devoid of good/useful information. Read them, digest them, then a few days later read them again.

  1. Double check everything.

Step 5, do a double check of everything. Is your TFTP server working, does your console connection function, is there anything in the release notes that could impact your upgrade procedure, do you have your configuration backed up? Make sure you’ve done everything.

Step 6, do the upgrade. Doing an upgrade doesn’t take very long, a few minutes (less a lot of times) but make sure you schedule enough time for it. At the end of the day an upgrade can succeed or fail. If it succeeds you want some time to check/confirm that any important features you have are working (VPNs etc). If it fails you’ll need time to sort things out.

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