Update firmware

Want to upgrade your computer for free? Here’s how.
 
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  • Updated:3 Jan 2006
 

04.Third party firmware

The manufacturer is your first port of call for firmware upgrades and changes, but you’ll commonly find third party firmware revisions for DVD-ROM drives or burners online.

  • While the features provided are often highly desirable (a region-free DVD drive, for example, or extra features for your burner), there’s no support if things go wrong.
  • There’s no warranty or guarantee that they’ll do the job and if you choose to use them the responsibility for any errors, problems or mistakes is entirely yours.
  • Modified drives or hardware aren’t supported by manufacturers.

DVD-ROMs

PC DVD-ROM drives are region-coded and many only allow five region changes before they lock into a single region. 'Flashing' utilities provided by third parties are available online to remove region coding.

Burners

Crossgrade utilities provided by third parties can turn one model of burner into another by the same manufacturer and provide additional features.

What if it all goes wrong?

Despite preparation and care, things can and do go wrong with firmware upgrades. We don’t recommend upgrading firmware if you’re reasonably new to computers. Sometimes the firmware doesn’t successfully install, in which case you can try again or contact the manufacturer for help. Your hardware should function normally if an upgrade doesn’t take.

An interruption to a firmware upgrade can render your hardware unusable. The manufacturer may be able to assist, but it’s likely to mean sending the hardware back for repair.

If you make an error selecting the firmware, however, you may not receive any help or support. Given that an error can result in an unusable piece of hardware, we were disappointed with the information available from manufacturers. It’s far too common to find only a file for download, with no attached instructions.

We’d like to see hardware manufacturers provide clear, unambiguous instructions for updating firmware. We’d also like to see more firmware update utilities that diagnose and update hardware automatically to alleviate confusion.

Sounds too hard?

You can ask a technician or service centre to install firmware updates for you if you don’t feel qualified.

Glossary:

Crossgrade: A firmware upgrade that allows one product model to mimic another.

 

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