What is Firmware?

Firmware is data stored on the ROM of a device. Its purpose is to provide instructions to the device on how to operate. Firmware cannot be deleted by a user without the aid of special programs, and it stays on the device, whether it is switched on or off, at all times.

Without the help of firmware, devices would not know how to operate. Basically, it makes the device tick or work. Thus, it is an extremely vital part of the device. All devices have them. These could be simple ones, like traffic lights that require firmware to tell them when to stay on and when to switch off, or complex ones, such as tablets, smartphones, etc. where the firmware contains all the necessary information that allows it to ‘tell’ the hardware to work on the installed operating system.

Firmware starts on its own since it is programmed to inform the device on how to run. Some people get confused between firmware and drivers. But these are quite different – firmware is installed on the hardware device and drivers are installed inside the OS. The firmware allows the device to work while drivers tell the OS how to communicate with the device.

Firmware can found in computer motherboards (called BIOS or UEFI), hard disks, network cards, routers, keyboard, mouse, solid state drives, and more.

It is not as if it firmware cannot be rewritten in devices. However, one would require a proper firmware updating tool to be able to do that. Manufacturers that provide firmware for devices also release firmware updates and also provide the necessary software tools to aid the updation. However, it is at best a tricky job to do so, and it is better to go through tutorials to ensure you don’t end up rendering your device useless.

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