· How to update to the latest version

Usually, when there is any update available, the icon will light up to notify you to update.

· How to update the firmware on any hardware in your computer

---Braniac from www.ehow.com

1. Identify which pieces of hardware use updateable firmware

The most common are CD/DVD drives. MP3 ( Decoder by system codec ) players and other USB devices may also have firmware that can be updated. Network routers use huge, complex firmware to handle network traffic so those are a great candidate for firmware updates.

In general, CD/DVD drives and routers are the most important to update. This is because music and software developers invent new forms of copy protection that can confuse an outdated drive and cause delays while reading CDs or playing music. Also if the drive was released with problems in the original firmware that they fixed in a later version it can severe performance problems while reading from CDs and DVDs. Manufacturers also add support for new types of burnable discs.

As for routers, network protocols and new networking technology gets changed and invented and the router needs to be able to handle it. For example, all versions of the Linksys Wireless G router jam up and fail to let any traffic through if you're running a bittorrent or other p2p program. But if you update the firmware from version 1.00.0 to 4.30.5, it fixes the problem and actually adds new, useful features too. Also it patches some security holes that had been discovered in the router.

2. Find out the exact model name and manufacturer

If you can easily see the device, look for labels on it stating the model number. If the device is a CD/DVD drive, the model is usually located on a label on the top. You have to take the drive out to see it though and that's not very convenient so I'd suggest doing it the fast way:

Right click on My Computer and click properties. Then go to the hardware tab and click Device Manager. This opens a list of most of the hardware attached to your computer. Expand each category to find the hardware you're looking for. The model name should be displayed right in the title. In the attached screenshot, you can see that my first drive's model is DUW1616/ARR and my third drive's model is SH-S182M. The first one was actually made by AOPEN but the third one was in fact made by Samsung, not TSSTcorp. I found that out by typing the model number into google, which is a good way to find out who really made it.

3. Find the firmware update

I would strongly recommend you go to the manufacturer's website to get it. If you simply type "SH-S182M firmware" into google you will find sites that have downloads of the firmware but there's no way to know if it's actually the latest version. However if I go to samsung.com and click on support then downloads and search by model number for SH-S182M, it shows me that the latest firmware released is version SB06 (as seen in the attached screenshot). It's likely that the drive came with version SB00 so it's a good idea to update it.

4. Download the firmware update files

If they're inside a zip file, it's very important that you unzip every file before running the update or it may fail. Before you leave the manufacturer's website, see if they have any specific instructions on how to update the firmware. Also check to see if any instructions were included in the download. Samsung for example included a pdf file on how to run the update.

5. VERY important: computer remains on and doesn't freeze up during the update process

Close all other unnecessary programs before starting the update. Disable your antivirus and any other protection software so it doesn't stop the process. Norton and McAfee often like to interrupt the process because they assume something bad is going on. Also don't run an update during a thunderstorm because if your computer loses power in the middle of the process, that would be really bad.

If anything interrupts the updating process before it's complete, your hardware will likely become a paperweight aka a brick. It will have a half updated, scrambled operating system and will cease to function completely. Some routers and other advanced hardware have a rollback feature just in case but not many other pieces of hardware do so be careful!

6. Others

If the manufacturer's instructions differ from the above instructions, obviously use theirs instead because every updater works differently. In general though, most of the time you'll have downloaded a small .exe file. Open it and it should have a pretty simple interface. See the attached screenshot for an example of what Samsung's looks like for this drive. All you have to do for this and most utilities is press the start or download button and it sends the new firmware to the piece of hardware and then says completed and you're all set. Some programs require you to first select a .bin file that also came with the download then press start. Most routers make you log into the router's control panel then select the updated firmware file and click update. Once the update done, your hardware will be running faster and better with fewer errors and may even have some great new features.

7. Tip&Warning

Make sure that the update process is not interrupted or it may break the hardware permanently!

Video Tutorial

TotalMedia Theatre Manual