How To – Upgrading the license on a Cisco ASA

By | March 28, 2012

In this short blog post we step through upgrading the license on a Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA).  The ASA ships with a “Base” license, and we will upgrade to “Security Plus”, which enables advanced features such as Failover.



It’s a very simple process, as follows:


Step 1.  Ensure that the ASA configuration has been backed up


Step 2.  Log onto the ASA via SSH and issue the following commands:


CISCOASA# conf t
CISCOASA(config)# activation-key {activation key as provided by your reseller}


Observe the output after entering the Activation Key:


CISCOASA(config)# activation-key {key string ommitted}
Validating activation key. This may take a few minutes...
Failover is different.
flash activation key: Restricted(R)
new activation key: Unrestricted(UR)
Proceed with update flash activation key? [confirm]
Failover is different.
running activation key: Restricted(R)
new activation key: Unrestricted(UR)
WARNING: The running activation key was not updated with the requested key.
The flash activation key was updated with the requested key, and will
become active after the next reload.
CISCOASA(config)# exit
CISCOASA(config)# reload


Step 3.  After the ASA has rebooted, login and issue the command show version | begin Licensed and verify that the license is now reported as Security Plus.  Also check the activation key is reported correctly


Step 4.  erm, there is no step 4.  that’s all there is to it so kick back and relax!


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