To download free firmware, visit the device manufacturer's website. The location of the software download varies among manufacturers, but common locations for firmware downloads are help and support sections. Because many different electronic devices use firmware, the step-by-step procedure for downloading and installing it is device-specific.
Firmware is embedded software that controls hardware components. Both simple hardware devices and components of more complex devices use firmware. Cameras, routers and scanners are standalone devices that use firmware. Network cards and optical drives are examples of PC components that operate under their own firmware.
Other devices that operate under more than one firmware component are mobile phones, portable music players and anti-lock brake systems. PC motherboards use special types of firmware, including BIOS, UEFI and Open Firmware. BIOS and UEFI are common in Windows-based PCs and Apple computers with Intel chips, while Open Firmware is used in Apple computers with PowerPC chips.
This software comes installed on the device by default, but installing later firmware updates is a suggested troubleshooting step when devices do not perform properly. Updated firmware also provides new features for devices, including compatibility with newer standards or a wider variety of optical media.
Third-party developers create unofficial firmware for some devices. Not all custom firmware packages are free, and installing third-party firmware may void the device's warranty. Because they are not supported by the manufacturer, custom firmware packages carry a risk of damaging the device.