Linksys has done measurable harm to its customers by providing the product with a miserable firmware upgrade implementation. It is so crude and so poorly documented that many users have no doubt fallen into its black hole.Dating back to the time of Hippocrates in 400 B.C., physicians have sworn and endeavored, above all, to avoid having their actions make a patient's condition worse. Perhaps it's time to ask your network infrastructure vendor to swear to the same oath. While cranking out new products and features, some vendors are appalling in their disregard for pre-existing users.What happened to me illustrates the point.In the cross hairs, specifically, is\u00a0Linksys\u00a0- ubiquitous provider of all things wireless to the small office\/home office (SOHO) and small- to midsize-business markets. Given the relatively "high" functionality and the relatively low price, I bought a multifunction Linksys router to handle my SOHO broadband connection.The company has done measurable harm to its customers by providing the product with a miserable firmware upgrade implementation. It is so crude and so poorly documented that many users have no doubt fallen into its black hole.My particular router also integrated firewall, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) Server, wireless and print server support. Quite a package. And it worked most of the time. When used regularly by three or four PCs that would hop online and offline, though, the unit periodically would freeze up. Sometimes this would happen once a day and other times once an hour. Either the router would stop routing or the DHCP server would stop serving up addresses.In any case, a walk over to the router and a power-cycle would "resolve" the problem. And in a few minutes, we'd be working again - until the next freeze.Having become tired of this behavior, I checked the Linksys support site. Sure enough, upgraded firmware was available for my box.After downloading the ZIP file, I was instructed to run the Linksys TFTP client, and whoosh, my unit was updated.I rebooted it, and - you know where this is going - it no longer worked. Yup, without warning, without a prompt, the firmware upgrade had simultaneously wiped out all my configuration information. Gone were my IP address, PPP over Ethernet setup, DSL service userID and password, firewall config - everything. I then spent the next hour or so cobbling the system back together. Fortunately, I suspected that this might happen and had made sure that I had all the config information available.So what could Linksys have done better?For starters, there's no reason why a firmware upgrade should destroy the system configuration. Just a few weeks ago, I needed to upgrade an HP 2524 low-end switch. The upgrade employed a similar TFTP approach - but the configuration was unaffected.Given the market Linksys is targeting, where technology skills might be hard to come by, a user-friendly, idiot-proof upgrade procedure should be mandatory.Linksys should let users save their configuration settings to a text file. That, at least, would assist customers in reconfiguring the device post-upgrade.Putting a label on the device with its default IP address wouldn't hurt either. It is possible to find that information on the Linksys Web site but - with your router down and your broadband connection unavailable - "you can't get there from here" (to paraphrase an old New England joke).And of course, it would take only a few minutes of programming time to display a warning in the window of the pathetic TFTP client Linksys provides.In fact, the only reference I saw to this firmware issue was in the last paragraph of an article in the Linksys Knowledge Base.Vendors should fix situations like this one and customers should complain loudly until they do.