With laptops and desktops, firmware is the middle man between hardware and software - it communicates with the computer in order to let the computer know what it is supposed to do. It consists of a small software program located on that piece of hardware. And it can need updating also.
Aside from your operating system updates, manufacturers also have updates, that usually involve updating the firmware on their piece of hardware. This may be for the same reason as software vendors update - security, safety and functionality. Let's look at some examples.
I am creating this article on an HP Desktop, running Windows 10 as the operating system. To find out if any of my HP hardware needs updating, I look at the list of installed programs on my computer. I click on the Windows pane at the bottom left of my screen, scroll down to the HP folder and open HP Support Assistant.
This will tell me if I have any manufacture firmware or vendor specific updates. I open "My devices" and looks like there are a few updates. The one indicated at the top with a red exclamation mark indicates it is an important update. The others are optional, but I want to keep everything updated. You can click on the question mark to get a bit more information about what the update does. Notice these updates deal with the hardware components of the computer.
I am going to select them all and let them download and update. Be prepared for a reboot.
Other manufactures also have their own folders with the same type of procedures for firmware updates, such as Lenovo System Updates or Dell Update Command. Either check for updates to firmware periodically or if there is an option to do it automatically, then select that.
For a Mac:
First, use the App Store app to update the software on your Mac. After the update is complete:
- Choose Apple menu > App Store. Search for macOS. Click the result for the current version of macOS, then click Get to start the download.
- The installer downloads to your Applications folder and opens when it's complete. If it doesn't launch automatically, find Install macOS in your Applications folder and double-click to open it.
- Click Continue.
- If your Mac needs a firmware update, you see this screen:
- Follow the on-screen instructions to apply the firmware update.