You may have heard of the word Firmware before and wondered just what the heck it was? And no, it is not referring to the latest fashions worn by office workers in a John Grisham
movie!

Firmware is very similar, in meaning and function, to software. While software is what enables computers to function or work; firmware is a computer program that's embedded in a hardware device, such as a Blu-ray Player, to make it function or work properly.

As you can see by its name, firmware is rooted somewhere between hardware and software. Wikipedia defines it as: "In computing, firmware is a computer program that is
embedded in a hardware device, for example a microcontroller. It can also be provided on flash memory or as a binary image file that can be uploaded onto existing hardware by a user."

Firmware is needed to make your Blu-ray player perform its many functions such as displaying movies and other features. A microprocessor usually runs its computer programming, just like you have in software, but it's linked to a piece of hardware which could not run or function without it. This firmware lays out a set of rules which allows the hardware to function and provides a way for the software to interact with the hardware. That's the main reason many people describe firmware as "software for hardware".

Firmware can be permanently stored and may not even need a power source. It's usually stored in read only memory chips or ROMs. The major advantage of firmware is that, even while it is permanent, it can be rewritten or updated. So improvements can be made by adding new features & functions or even fixing errors on a device. Take for example, when a Blu-ray Player is released it may not have certain features, but these can be added at a later time by updating the firmware.

However, firmware does have one major drawback, since upgrading the software only may not be enough to correct a problem or update a feature. Sometimes, you have to also upgrade the hardware as well, if your present hardware can't support the upgrade.

How To Upgrade Your Firmware?

It is generally recommended, if you're upgrading any firmware that you contact the manufacturer, who will have the latest firmware available. Now, there are two ways you can upgrade your firmware: directly download the upgrade into your hardware device or you can get the update on a CD or some other media. Either way, both methods are relatively painless and can be quickly and easily done. Your electronic device will instantly have its new feature or any errors will be fixed.

Many devices, such as some Blu-ray Players, which have an Internet connection provides the easiest method of updating your firmware. You simply log on to the manufacturer's homepage and follow the instruction given for updating your firmware. Many times, this can be accomplished by downloading directly to the electronic device. Other times, you may be required to download to your hard-drive or some other device such as a memory card, then transfer the upgrade to your electronic device.

Just remember, firmware can be found in almost every electronic device. And since you can easily upgrade your firmware, this procedure greatly prolongs the use of the device, giving it much more durability. In other words, firmware lets you enjoy many of your electronic gadgets such as your Blu-ray Player, for a longer period of time before you have to buy a new machine. Since this can save you a lot of money over the long haul, that's reason enough for you to fully understand firmware and how it works in your many electronic devices.

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