As we add more devices and users to our home WiFi networks, there comes a need for better administrative controls. There are many reasons why you may want to upgrade the firmware on your Cisco Valet M10 wireless router. It all boils down to the fact that the manufacturer’s firmware has limited features and your wireless networking needs have changed over the years.
Perhaps you or others in your household are streaming video and/or music from Netflix, ShowBox, HULU, Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, etc. on your wireless network; the number of users streaming may be causing video/ audio playback performance issues. Maybe you have little ones and, as a concerned parent, you need to know what sites they are visiting online or you may want to block access to certain websites. Or, if you are concerned about the amount of time your children spend online, you may want to impose access restrictions at certain times. For example, blocking all access to Wifi after 9pm when children and teens should be asleep rather than staring their tired beady eyes at their friend’s Facebook page.
These are all popular features available with third party Tomato firmware. More advanced features include QOS rules for prioritizing certain traffic, support of VLans to segment your WiFi traffic, and VPN support to encrypt internet traffic for added security. Tomato can be used as a wireless bandwidth monitor, provides detailed information on wireless bandwidth speed and includes a wireless bandwidth chart depicting throughput. Tomato allows you to monitor wifi traffic and monitor wifi usage.
Upgrading to a third party firmware like Tomato can breath new life into your old Cisco Valet M10 wireless router. Tomato firmware not only provides more advanced features such as real time bandwidth and IP monitoring, and all those goodies stated earlier, it might also make your Cisco Linksys Valet M10 WiFi router more stable.
Now, this post is not technically a step-by-step guide on how to upgrade Cisco Linksys Valet M10 Firmware to Tomato Toastman Build. Here you will find the links to resources that will help you do exactly that.
Warning: Messing with your WiFi router’s firmware can potentially render your wireless router useless and unrecoverable. Do not attempt this unless you can live with that for the rest of your life and without blaming anyone else but yourself.
During my search to make better use of the Cisco Valet M10 router I came across http://www.howtogeek.com/189073/how-to-use-a-custom-firmware-on-your-router-and-why-you-might-want-to/ that explains why you may want to update your router and has links to relevant sites. In the post it states that Tomato has not been updated for some time; it is important to know that while the original release has not been updated for years, a developer that goes by the name of Toastman, did in fact continue to build upon the original Tomato firmware and his newest release is as recent as November 2015.
There are some key things to know when updating your Cisco Linksys Valet M10 Firmware to Tomato Toastman Build.
Know your router. It is important to know what WiFi router model and version you have. You cannot flash just any firmware onto just any router. The firmware needs to support your specific router model. This post is about Cisco Valet M10 version 1. There are other Tomato firmware versions that may work on your router if you don’t have this specific one. The hardest part, in my opinion, is knowing exactly which firmware to use. For the Cisco Linksys Valet M10 version 1, I used tomato-K26-1.28.7507.2MIPSR2Toastman-RT-Tiny.trx that is available for download at http://www.4shared.com/dir/v1BuINP3/Toastman_Builds.html#dir=dvM3seGQ.
One of the main reasons why I chose to upgrade with tomato-K26-1.28.7507.2MIPSR2Toastman-RT-Tiny.trx is because I found that others had used Toastman’s firmware builds on Cisco Valet M10 in the past.
Also, the version I picked is very recent. There are other Toastman firmware even more recent than that and that offer additional functionality but the file size is too big for the Cisco Valet M10 router. I opted for the most recent release I could find (modified March 2015) that was the right size (3.4mb) for my router.
It took me a while to know which Tomato firmware to use for the Cisco Valet M10 router as I did not immediately know which version of router I had. Some refer to it as Linksys M10; others refer to it as a Linksys “E” series router. There is also a version 2. The following site was useful in determining what router I had.
Specifications and versions
The Valet M10 along with the Valet Plus M20 were Cisco’s first routers in the Valet series. The M10 is a 2.4 GHz single-band 802.11n wireless router featuring 10/100 LAN connectivity. The v1 of this model is equivalent to the Linksys E1000 v1 and WRT160N v3, sharing the same hardware and specifications. It is white in color and features a light blue trim.
Valet Plus M20
The M20 is a 2.4 GHz single-band 802.11n wireless router featuring gigabit LAN connectivity. This model is equivalent to the Linksys WRT310N v2, also sharing the same hardware and specifications. It is white in color and features a silver trim.
Toastman wrote the following firmware guide to help us figure out which firmware build we need. In it he mentions the Linksys “E” series router and being that I had already determined the Linksys “E” series router to include the Cisco Valet M10 v1, this was helpful to identify which Tomato Toastman build would work for me.
From previous people that flashed their routers I learned that it is a good idea to do a 30/30/30 reset before and after the firmware upgrade. This link explains how to do a 30/30/30 reset:
Disconnect the router from UTP cables (not the power cable).
Push reset button for 30 secs.
Without releasing reset button, disconnect power cord.
Hold the reset button for another 30 secs.
Replug the power cord.
Still hold the reset button for another 30 secs.
Release the reset button and give the router about 10 secs to resettle.
Disconnect power cord for another 10 secs and then reconnect.
If you are looking into upgrading your router’s firmware then you probably already have a clue on how to do it. You may have already tinkered with your router’s settings in the past. If so, the process will not be hard at all.
First you download tomato-K26-1.28.7507.2MIPSR2Toastman-RT-Tiny.trx from the link provided earlier and change the file extension to .bin (tomato-K26-1.28.7507.2MIPSR2Toastman-RT-Tiny.bin).
Next, you do a 30/30/30 reset on your router. Note: My Cisco Valet M10 router does a weird thing. When you unplug the power and plug it back in it doesn’t always come on. It will blink the LAN port leds but won’t fully turn on. So when I did the 30/30/30 reset on the Cisco Valet M10 router and was holding the reset button, I had to plug the power cord in and out multiple times until it powered on without ever letting go of the reset button. Just thought I would mention that in case it is a bug with this particular router.
After the 30/30/30 reset you log in to the router using the default username and password which I believe is Username: admin Password: admin and go to the firmware update page to load your .bin file. After the firmware uploads and the router reboots you do another 30/30/30 reset and that’s it.
Keep in mind that this process will reset all settings so you will have to configure your router again. Also note that DHCP will be off by default after the upgrade and will have to be re-enabled for the router to hand out IP addresses. Devices that are set to acquire IP addresses by DHCP will be unable to connect otherwise.
If you have never logged into your router before, do not know how to setup wireless settings and/ or do not know what DHCP is I recommend that you do a lot of reading before attempting anything as you will likely end up with a “bricked” or nonworking device.
If you end up using Toastman’s Build and find it useful don’t forget to give the man credit and perhaps donate him some cash; I think he has done a great job.