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Firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) updates

You can extend a device's life by delivering upgrades and critical fixes, including security patches, as an update.

Tip: With a free-tier account, you can perform up to 200 device updates each month. With a commercial account, you can perform an unlimited number of device updates each month. (Extra fees apply when tier quota exceeded on data or updated device count.) See Choosing your account type for more information about the other benefits of commercial accounts and how to upgrade a free account to a commercial account.

Pelion Device Management lets you perform secure firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) updates and supports campaign strategies to target different device and network types, including:

  • One-shot and continuous campaigns.
  • Multicast campaigns in Wi-SUN mesh networks.

Device Management's Update service and clients provide flexible FOTA update features, such as:

  • Delta update - The client constructs a new firmware image based on a delta patch file you create using the manifest tool and the firmware currently present on the device. This technique saves traffic bandwidth.
  • Component update - Enables updating components different from the main firmware image, such as wireless connectivity modules, embedded sensors or different partitions or packages in Linux-based devices.
  • Combined update - Lets you group together multiple images on the device as requiring a simultaneous update. This is useful when the images have a strong dependency on each other during device boot in runtime. You can also define a coordinated rollback of the entire combined update in the event that any of the related images fails to update.
  • Defer download or installation - Lets the device manage download and installation of firmware to reduce interruptions to the device's regular functioning and provide device end-users with a better user experience.
  • Resume download after loss of connectivity - Allows devices to resume the update from the point at which the update process was interrupted.
  • Encrypted image update - Lets you encrypt firmware images you upload to Device Management to protect your campaign from attackers who might try to intercept and read the firmware. At the start of the campaign, Device Management sends the encryption key to the device together with the manifest to enable the device to decrypt the image.

For more information about implementing FOTA update features in the Device Management clients, see Setting up Firmware-Over-the-Air in your device application.

Updating firmware on deployed IoT devices

To update firmware on deployed IoT devices running Device Management Client or Client Lite:

  1. Upload the updated image to Device Management.

  2. Create a manifest with the information the device needs to validate and download the firmware update.

  3. Upload the manifest to Device Management.

  4. Configure and initiate the update campaign.

    Device Management sends the manifest to the device you target in the campaign.

    The device client verifies the firmware based on the manifest, including the firmware's compatibility with the device and version number, downloads and installs the image and reports success.

This chapter describes how to perform these steps in detail and explains concepts related to running update campaigns using Pelion Device Management.