Upgrade The Firmware

Do you have to upgrade the firmware or BIOS on your computer devices? Usually only if necessary.

Recently, a client reported that his Asus wireless router in his home office seemed to stop functioning properly after he upgraded its firmware; all his wireless printers went on strike. This wireless router had a “check for new firmware” button on its web control interface. He clicked on that button all the time and always proceeded with a firmware upgrade if there was a newer version. He thought this would maintain the device at its peak performance and reliability. The firmware upgrade on this wireless router had never given him any trouble until this time.

Upgrade The Firmware or BIOSNew firmware may fix some bugs, add some new features or improve performance and reliability. However, you will also risk “bricking” the device if something happens during the upgrade, such as a power outage or misoperation. I have done numerous firmware and BIOS upgrades without a single failure in the past. But, every time when I did this on a critical device, my heart was always beating faster and my blood pressure was running higher.

To Check For New Firmware or BIOS for a PC Motherboard

After panicking for a few hours on a weekend evening, his problem was fixed eventually – he had to reset this device to factory defaults and re-configure all the lost settings.

In my opinion, a home user does not have to bother with firmware upgrades unless really necessary. But if it is a business client, the situation can be different. Here is what we usually do for a business client:

  1. We always upgrade to the latest firmware for a server and SAN hard drive and raid controller card. We check for new firmware at least once a month. If we see a new version, we usually upgrade right away.
  2. If we see a new BIOS version for a server motherboard released, we may upgrade within a month.
  3. We do not bother to check for new firmware or BIOS for a PC motherboard or a printer unless we think a new firmware or BIOS may help fix a problem.
  4. For a network switch, router, or wireless access point, we check for new firmware when necessary
  5. Before we deliver a new server, a new computer, or new network equipment to a business client, we always upgrade to the latest firmware or BIOS for all applicable components.
  6. We do review the release notes coming with the new firmware or BIOS before the upgrade.