EVDOinfo Tip of the Week #34: DON'T Upgrade Your Equipment!

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Thursday, 24 December 2009

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DON'T Upgrade Your Equipment Unnecessarily!

If you use any tech products on a regular basis - from cell phones to laptops to routers - you've likely seen notifications about new versions of firmware/software being available for your device. Many people assume that these updates are necessary to install, presuming that they must have the latest firmware & software to continue to be able to use their device, or that the updates will give them better performance. However, this is typically NOT the case - the majority of these updates are unnecessary for most people and in some cases even cause serious problems for users. The recent compatibility problems blackberry users experienced after they upgraded their phone's software is a prime example of this - after updating their Blackberry to the latest version of firmware, they found that it was no longer compatible with their EVDO router! That unfortunate situation is a good reminder that one should think very carefully before performing any updates to their device.

Most firmware updates are available for a few common reasons: to add new features, to add support for new devices (in the case of routers, for example), or to fix problems or bugs. While those things can certainly be useful for some users, MOST "updates" are simply unnecessary for most users - unless you're experiencing the problem the update is supposed to fix, or actually want to use a device the update provides compatibility for, there is usually no need to install an update.

Beyond being unnecessary, updates can actually CAUSE problems - like the Blackberry + Cradlepoint issue mentioned above (the 3Gstore tech team has seen a myriad of unfortunate issues caused by upgrading a device to a new firmware version, from incompatibility to instability). The best advice we give when customers are wondering whether to install the latest update for their AirCard, SmartPhone, or router is to ask yourself: "is my system (including all the equipment I use WITH the device I am considering upgrading) working fine with the CURRENT firmware that's installed? Does this new upgrade add any new features I will actually use - and if so, do I need them bad enough to risk any instability or compatibility issues that upgrading may cause?" If you're not sure, remember to read the release notes from the manufacturer that detail what the new version is supposed to provide (many manufacturers do this - for example, Cradlepoint posts the "release notes" for each new firmware version on Cradlepoint's Support Page.) As a general rule, if your system is working fine as-is, there is NO need for you to upgrade ("if it ain't broke, don't fix it!")

Of course, some updates and upgrades ARE worth doing. Below are some instances where we DO recommend installing an upgrade:

When You SHOULD Upgrade:

  • A new firmware version that add support for one of your devices (for example, a new Cradlepoint update that makes your MBR1000 compatible with your MiFi)
  • An update that fixes a major problem you've been experiencing
  • An update that adds a new feature that you really need and want to use (for example, the Cradlepoint firmware release that added support for load balancing)

If you've read the release notes and you're still not sure whether you really need to install an upgrade that is available for your device, take advantage of the great community on the EVDO Forums - search for posts from others about the firmware or post your own question and allow others who may have already installed it help you make your decision.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 04 March 2010 )
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