Whether it’s your IP phone or your internet router, all hardware comes with firmware. Think of firmware as the controlling unit of the hardware. It dictates how the hardware will behave and what steps it will take to perform a certain action. As opposed to software, which manages the different things you can do with the hardware, firmware controls the operations of the hardware itself.
Software is used to perform specific activities on a device, whereas firmware is responsible for the device’s own functions.
Firmware is a set of programs that work together to make the device do what it is meant to do, its most basic operations. You could think of it like the background programming that runs the whole piece of hardware. With an IP phone, the firmware controls the overall functioning of the phone, such as the incoming and outgoing calls on the phone, and the lines that are available for making another call.
Why to update firmware on IP phones
Because the firmware is the brain of the hardware, it is important that you keep it in check. An updated firmware will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. The manufacturer of your hardware, for instance, whether that’s Grandstream or Yealink, constantly releases new firmware.
Firmware updates on IP phones fix bugs, add new features, and enhance existing features.
These firmware releases are absolutely free of cost, which is why it makes sense to keep your piece of hardware updated with the latest firmware version. Think of it as a maintenance procedure. When you upgrade your hardware to the latest firmware version, you can ensure that your hardware will work in the best possible condition. Bugs will get fixed, functions will run more smoothly, and there might even be new features that previously weren’t there. Often, firmware updates come with enhanced security measures. This means, that with regular updates, you are actually making your hardware even more secure than when you had bought it from the manufacturer.
Regularly updating the firmware on your IP phone provides security and new features.
What happens when you don’t keep your firmware updated? Hardware that is lacking updated firmware often becomes slow in its functions. Even simple functions, such as switching lines on an IP phone, for instance, can become painfully slow and troublesome. If there is a bug that you have identified yourself in the system, you won’t be able to fix it without actually updating the firmware. And, if you continue skipping regular upgrades, you will see for yourself that your device doesn’t work as well as it used to when you first bought it. Manufacturers understand this too, which is why all firmware updates are absolutely free of cost.
How to update firmware on IP phones
If you are afraid of a long and tedious procedure involved with updating firmware, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Most IP phones will prompt you for the upgrade. Manufacturers release and broadcast these firmware versions to all the devices. When firmware is ready to be downloaded and installed on your device, often the screen prompts you with a message about the firmware and whether you wish to proceed with it. Many IP phones also allow you to enable automatic firmware updates, so you don’t have to do a thing.
Telzio runs a check on Grandstream firmware updates prior to releasing them to users’ IP phones.
For Grandstream phones, be sure to use our firmware URL: grandstream.firmware.telzio.com
Once you agree to upgrade the firmware, the firmware package will be automatically downloaded to your device. All you will need is an internet connection to perform the download operation. After it has been downloaded, the firmware package will be installed and your device will be rebooted to complete the upgrade process.
Most IP phones have a setting for Automatic Firmware Updates, so you don’t need to manually download new versions every time.
In case you decide to ignore the upgrade message, you may be sent regular prompt messages to complete the upgrade. If you decide to ignore all these prompts, it will be considered that you have decided to defer the upgrade. In this case, you will be notified of the next upgrade version released by the manufacturer. It is important to understand that firmware versions are like replacements, not to be confused with incremental updates. This means that the new firmware package will consist of everything, including all the previous upgrades, and not just patches for the previous version. Therefore, if you miss an upgrade version, you might as well upgrade to the latest release; rest assured that it will have all the bug fixes and enhancements from all the previous firmware versions.
Firmware updates are more like replacements. Each version includes previous upgrades, so if you miss an update you can just download the latest version.
One thing to keep in mind is to download and install the firmware version that has been issued for your specific model. If you download an incorrect firmware package and try to install it, it could potentially destroy your device. This is a handy tip to remember when you have to manually visit the manufacturer’s website and select the firmware package. Be careful in making your selection. A good idea to avoiding this kind of mishap is to enable automatic firmware updates when you first configure your phone. Once you do this, the upgrades will be installed automatically, requiring no intervention and therefore resulting in fewer chances of incorrect downloads and installations.
Another thing to keep in mind is to accept firmware packages from only the manufacturer. Third-party firmware developers might intercept your system and lure you into downloading their upgrade package. Before you decide to download firmware, remember to cross-check it at the manufacturer’s website, lest your device falls prey to malicious software.
In conclusion, although firmware upgrades are optional, it is never a good idea to skip them. Keeping your device’s firmware upgraded is an important part of its maintenance procedure. And because they are free, there is nothing restricting you from performing a firmware upgrade.
Lata is part of the marketing team at Telzio, and uses her in-depth understanding of business VoIP to contribute education about VoIP phone systems to the Telzio blog. Her experience includes creating technical documentation and guides on complex telecommunication systems for Avaya and IBM. Currently based in Barcelona, Lata has a Bachelor's degree in computer science and Master's in English.