What Is A Firmware Update?

What Is A Firmware Update?

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

A firmware update, or a software update, is a set of instructions that can be installed on a device to enhance its performance. It can be installed by the manufacturer or by the end-user. It usually consists of a file that is downloaded to the device and automatically installed when it is powered on.

Keep reading to see how to use firmware upgrades to keep your device secure and what you should know before doing so.

What is firmware?

What Is A Firmware Update?

Firmware is the software that keeps everything running well, from printers to wireless routers to streaming service devices. It operates quietly in the background, so you might not even notice it’s there. Your gear, on the other hand, will not perform as expected if you don’t have it.

Before you buy a product, the manufacturer designs and installs the firmware. It’s designed to be a hands-off experience. It doesn’t require any technical knowledge to run and accomplish what it does best.

What is a firmware update?

What Is A Firmware Update?

Updates add or rewrite the existing software on the gadget so it functions at optimal efficiency and security again as the manufacturer of your equipment creates newer and better firmware. Updates, like any other software, are an unavoidable part of digital life. If a known bug is fixed or a new security patch is developed, the firmware you have loaded currently will no longer be sufficient.

Firmware updates can be infrequent and only happen once in the gadget’s lifespan, depending on the device. They can also happen more frequently on devices that use the internet regularly or that need to be updated with newer security features on a regular basis.

The absence of firmware updates is one of the first signals that a manufacturer has stopped maintaining a device or has retired it from their development teams. For example, if you buy an older router, it may work OK for a while. However, if the device isn’t officially supported by the manufacturer, it may become glitchy or unstable over time.

It’s regarded as obsolete if the maker doesn’t release a fresh firmware update to address current issues. As a result of this technique, many perfectly decent items work great on the hardware side but are unworkable on the software (or firmware) side.

Types of firmware updates

Firmware can be classified based on the function it performs or the devices it supports. For example, you may have a printer firmware update that’s primary purpose is to provide updated security protection against a new virus that’s been identified that uses printers as a backdoor into your network or to send you spam faxes.
Firmware is used in the following devices:
  • Your computer’s BIOS
  • Router
  • Printer
  • Modem
  • Camera
  • Streaming device
  • Some gaming systems
  • USB-connected peripherals, such as a mouse, keyboard, or thumb drive for storage
The size of the updates varies, and the larger ones can be as huge as the complete firmware file. They could consist of a variety of fixes, ranging from expanding functionality to resolving issues.

How to check for available updates

You will have a different method of checking for available firmware upgrades depending on the device. Some devices will update themselves. For example, if you rent a wireless router from your internet service provider, the settings are likely pre-authorized to accept updates when they are pushed out to you.

Other devices will alert you in some way. A light may turn on, a message may appear in your browser window, or you may receive an email from your manufacturer informing you that firmware updates for your registered product are available. If you’re unsure whether an update is available, consult your device’s instruction manual right away.

You might be able to do a more active check as well. If the firmware is linked to Windows, the operating system’s automated upgrades may be able to manage the situation. The BIOS is an example of an update that occurs as part of a bigger, more comprehensive Windows upgrade. The most essential firmware changes should happen on their own if you allow upgrades to happen in a timely manner and do not snooze them.

How to update firmware

Each device will have its own firmware processes, as previously stated. Most will be automated, but others may allow you to take a more hands-on approach.

You can go into the router’s administrative panel and check the tab or screen for firmware or software updates, for example. A notification or alert symbol may appear to indicate that one is required. It can also be set to automatically update at a specific time or date. If you need to get into the admin panel and execute manual updates, refer to the manual that came with your router.

You may check for a software version on many devices’ settings tabs or screens. This could be saved on the “about” or “information” screen or tab. It may tell you if you have an old version and if an update is available for your device when you check for the newest version. Although the updating may occur automatically, you may be needed to agree to the terms and conditions in order for the update to occur.

Why are automatic updates the best option?

Given how important firmware is to the functionality of your favorite tech gadgets and computers, doesn’t it make sense to update it as frequently as possible? While being proactive has its advantages, automatic updates are more convenient and involve less effort on your part as a consumer. It can be pretty exhausting to have to check each of your gadgets for updates on a regular basis.

You can ensure that your software receives the changes it requires when the time comes by confirming that your settings allow for automatic firmware updates. You may also feel assured that the changes have had time to roll out and be tested by a larger group of people. Newer versions can often have bugs, so being first isn’t always a good idea in this area of technology. Putting it off, on the other hand, can raise your security threats and cause your equipment to malfunction.