Upgrade refers to the replacement of a product with a newer version of the same product. It is most often used in computing and consumer electronics, generally meaning a replacement of hardware, software or firmware with a newer or better version, in order to bring the system up to date or to improve its characteristics.
A new version of a software or hardware product designed to replace an older version of the same product. Typically, software companies sell upgrades at a discount to prevent users from switching to other products. In most cases, you must prove you own an older version of the product to qualify for the upgrade price. In addition, the installation routines for upgrades often check to make sure that an older version is already installed on your computer; if not, you cannot install the upgrade.
Why To Upgrade:
Common hardware upgrades include installing additional memory (RAM), adding larger hard disks, replacing microprocessor cards or graphics cards, and installing new versions of software. Many other upgrades are often possible as well.
Common firmware upgrades include the updating of the iPod control menus, the Xbox 360 dashboard, or the non-volatile flash memory that contains the embedded operating system for a consumer electronics device.
Users can often download software and firmware upgrades from the Internet. Often the download is a patch—it does not contain the new version of the software in its entirety, just the changes that need to be made. Software patches usually aim to improve functionality or solve problems with security. Rushed patches can cause more harm then good and are therefore sometimes regarded with scepticism for a short time after release (see “Risks”). Patches are generally free.
A software or firmware upgrade can be major or minor and the release version code-number increases accordingly. A major upgrade will change the version number, whereas a minor update will often append a “.01″, “.02″, “.03″, etc. For example, “version 10.03″ might designate the third minor upgrade of version 10. In commercial software, the minor upgrades (or updates) are generally free, but the major versions must be purchased.
A hardware upgrade is any new hardware that replaces or adds to old hardware in the computer. A good example of a common hardware upgrade is a RAM upgrade, where the user is increasing the computers total memory, which will increase its overall speed and efficiency. Another good example is doing a video card upgrade, which is the act of removing the old video card and replacing it with a new video card that is much more capable than the previously installed video card, again increasing the capabilities of the computer.
A software upgrade is a purchase of a newer version of software you currently use of a more fully-featured version of your current software. There is usually a cost for a software upgrade, although you can often upgrade at a reduced price.
There is also a term Software Update. Following lines clear the meaning of it.
A software update provides bug fixes and minor software enhancements and is made available by free download. Software updates sometimes include new drivers to support the latest hardware such as printers, CD drives and DVD drives. A software update is sometimes called a software patch because it is applied over software that you already have installed. A software update does not provide a full software package installation.
Firmware And Firmware Upgrade:
Firmware is a term often used to denote the fixed, usually rather small, programs and/or data structures that internally control various electronic devices. Typical examples of devices containing firmware range from end-user products such as remote controls or calculators, through computer parts and devices like hard disks, keyboards, TFT screens or memory cards, all the way to scientific instrumentation and industrial robotics. Also more complex consumer devices, such as mobile phones, digital cameras, synthesizers, etc., contain firmware to enable the device’s basic operation as well as implementing higher-level functions.
Firmware Upgrade: Most of the device we use today is as much a computer as it is an audio or video device. As such, sometimes the manufacturer makes improvements to those programs that run the device (firmware). These improvements are released as firmware updates. We can expect to see firmware updates for everything from our Blu-ray players and video game consoles to our car stereos.
You begin a firmware upgrade by downloading a binary file package from the manufacturer’s Web site. After the package is set up properly on a PC, an administrator can launch the actual upgrade from the wireless router’s administrative console. The router will stop functioning if the upgrade fails to complete. For this reason, manufacturers generally recommend an Ethernet cable be run from the router to the PC to ensure maximum stability during the update. Consult the router’s product documentation for details.
Immediately after purchasing a router, check the firmware version to ensure it is the latest version. Firmware can be installed on a router at the factory several months before the router is sold.
Then, check the manufacturer’s Web site occasionally over time for any new firmware upgrade postings. Each time a firmware upgrade is posted, the manufacturer will provide notes detailing the enhancements it provides. Feel free to skip an upgrade if the new version does not offer any interesting features.
Things To Remember:
Although developers produce upgrades in order to improve a product, there are risks involved including the possibility that the upgrade will worsen the product.
Upgrades of hardware and software involve a risk that new hardware will not be compatible with other pieces of hardware in a system. For example, an upgrade of RAM may not be compatible with existing RAM in a computer. Other hardware components may not be compatible after either an upgrade or downgrade, due to the non-availability of compatible drivers for the hardware with a specific operating system. Conversely, there is the same risk of non-compatibility when software is upgraded or downgraded for previously functioning hardware to no longer function.
Upgrades of software introduce the risk that the new version (or patch) will contain a bug, causing the program to malfunction in some way or not to function at all.
Upgrades of firmware however, if a router is performing sluggishly, freezing unexpectedly or experiencing dropped connections, firmware upgrade often supplies a quick fix.