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Home Troubleshooting How to Flashback a USR Sportster Modem  

How to Flashback a 3Com/USR/Sportster (Updated 13-Mar-06)

USR now has used at least 3 methods to flash firmware to modems with hardware controller (aka hardware modem). This includes the MUW (modem upgrade wizard) which placed a toll call to proprietary system to download flash file (obsolete); IUW (Internet upgrade wizard) which obtains the flash file from a proprietary system via your Internet connection; and, the new ControlCenter for V.92 (which currently recognizes only the 5686-03 modem as a USR modem).

In all cases, flashing a USR modem is a 2-step process: downloading a flash file on-line; then, while disconnected the wizard connects directly to the modem, erasing the old firmware and installing - flashing - the new. After this has completed, the flash file (which has a .dmf extension) is automatically erased.

The flash wizard has an option that allows you to flash the modem if you have a .dmf file. In some cases, USR will e-mail you a .dmf file - but it's not easy to get one for your modem. If you copy the .dmf file to a backup location before the second part of the upgrade completes, you will then have an archive of the flash you are applying, and will be able to flash back to this version if you later install an upgrade.

A method was posted in a comp.dcom.modems message by Bryan Pfremmer to archive new flash code. This method will allow you to flashback to any firmware versions you save with this method. Note that you will not be able to flashback to the current version in your modem - it allows you to start backing up firmware revisions so you can go back if you need to.

Here's Bryan's method:

The trick is go to the dir where you installed the 3com upgrade wizard usually c:\3com\Updtmdm and copy the file dmfdone.dmf to another directory before the upgrade is complete because the modem upgrade wizard deletes the dmfdone.dmf once your modem has been upgraded. I already tried the upgrade with the dmfdone.dmf file once worked perfectly. If you need to contact me my email is

Notes: You have a limited amount of time to do this (ie, only after the modem has completed phase 1, and only until the flash file is erased from your system. If the flash is interrupted before completion (by power loss, computer crash, etc.), your modem will be toast. Before you begin, I'd close all running programs; open an Explorer window and navigate to the appropriate directory as described above; then launch the modem upgrade wizard, switching back to the Explorer window after the 2nd phase has started to copy the file.You may need to use Refresh in your Explorer Window for the .dmf file to be displayed.


If for any reason the second part of a USR flash doesn't finish normally, you will have a modem that NO LONGER WORKS! If this has happened, using Hyperterminal, your modem may respond with ERROR to any valid AT command; AT by itself may return: BOOT>

If this has happened, the modem needs to be returned/replaced. Many USR modems have lifetime warranties, so you should not have a problem getting the replacement at no charge (you'll be out postage and time without a modem). However, if you have an OEM USR modem, USR will not offer you any help - you'll need to contact the 'responsible party' (for example, Dell, Gateway and others that supply 'USR' modems).

IF this has happened to you and you are unable to get a 'responsible party' to replace your modem, you may want to consider SMF (Sportster Modem Flasher). The Russian author of this site has written software that will flash your modem when it is in this inoperable condition. Note that using SMF will permanently change your modem's identification information which will prevent future use of USR-supplied upgrades. SMF can be used with working USR modems as well - which probably will void any warranty that you may have. You may also want to view and consider the SMF FAQ before proceeding.
(13-Mar-06 - the links for SMF updated as the old site - is inaccessible (error 403-forbidden).

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