What is firmware?

Firmware is a type of program that written for a hardware device's nonvolatile memory. It provides instruction on how that device should operate. Unlike normal software, firmware cannot be changed or deleted by an end-user without a special program.

Firmware is added at the time of manufacturing, and used to run user programs on the device and can be thought of as the software that allows hardware to run. Hardware makers use embedded firmware to control the functions of various hardware devices and systems.

Devices like optical drives, a network card, a router, a camera, or a scanner all have firmware that is programmed into a special memory contained in the hardware itself.

Today, embedded firmware exists in everything from smartphones to internet of things (IoT) devices. Firmware that is embedded in flash memory chips can be updated easier than firmware written to ROM or EPROM. Manufacturers of CD, DVD, and network router often release regular firmware updates to keep their hardware compatible with new features, while the firmware in a smart light bulb may not need frequent updates.

The updated firmware would probably include a new set of computer code for your device to fix bugs, roll out new features and improve security. Some internet-capable devices regularly check for new firmware and automatically download and install it, while other device manufacturers require the user to visit the manufacturer's website to download firmware updates and install them manually.