Updating Firmware on CCTV DVR or NVR
Hi everyone, Joe from SCK here and we wanted to cover a topic today that we get a variety of questions about, and that is regarding Updating Firmware on CCTV DVR or NVR. We get asked about this quite a bit, as there is a lot of misunderstanding about this concept. Firmware is important, and it probably helps to first understand what Firmware even is, particularly in relation to your CCTV systems. We’re going to try to tackle that, and then we’re going to get into the questions we get asked about firmware, specifically as it pertains to Updating Firmware on CCTV DVR or NVR. With that said, what is firmware anyway?
What is Firmware?
Well, firstly Firmware is a kind of Software. Software is code written on a computer to be used in a particular infinite number of ways. The software can take the form of applications you are already familiar with like word processors, the operating system on your PC or smartphone, the games or apps you run – these are all forms of software. Coders create software in code, as mentioned above, called programming languages. Most devices will require some very low-level rudimentary software that is somewhat permanently installed on them in order to run. That’s essentially what Firmware is. Firmware is not like an app you can just drag to the trash or get the newest version of regularly. Generally, the Firmware installed on any device is not nearly as accessible to regular end-users as any normal program or application software you might encounter today. This is deliberate because the firmware is so important to a device’s ability to run that it’s simply safer being permanently installed and incapable of being accessed normally for deletion.
For a more precise definition, Firmware is any software, installed into the read-only-memory, aka ROM, of a device to allow it to run its most basic functions and properly access and communicate with the various components that make up the device. Pretty much every device you can think of has some kind of firmware installed on it so that it is able to work at all. Your phone has firmware, so do the computer systems that power your microwave, smart tv, and even automobile operations such as your car’s control computer or- ECU. Your computer has many components that often each have their own firmware including but not limited to the PC’s motherboard, and the Graphics Card too. Within your recorder, the Firmware on your CCTV DVR or NVR is there to provide an operating system and perform the aforementioned rudimentary system tasks. Without firmware, the recorder might power on but nothing would ever happen after that. Its absolutely necessary to have a working, correct copy of firmware running on any device, especially and including any CCTV recorders.
Now, with other software that is more common and more accessible, you’re probably familiar with the concept of updating them. Windows, the operating system that powers most PCs today, updates often enough that you’ve probably even gotten frustrated by it once in a while. Apps on your phone or Programs on your PC likely ask you to update from time to time as well. Some programs even make sure to keep themselves up to date regularly. They do this by checking with the manufacture’s product servers at regular intervals to see if such an update is available to download and install. Updating is an important part of developing and managing software, and there’s plenty of reasons for that.
When an update is released for software it could be for any combination of several reasons. One could be a change in the way the program looks or behaves. Sometimes this means a change to the menus or interaction- usually for the sake of style and/or convenience. In a video game, this might be new content to play or graphical updates. Many times there are bugs- errors in coding that result in problems with the software. Updating is a good way to recode these types of errors and release what is referred to as a ‘patch’ to supplement existing software, add, or make changes to it. There’s another important reason to update as well, and this is security flaws. Sometimes software can have vulnerabilities that would allow malicious users to access the application in question, usually with the intent to use this as a doorway into the device or network running said application for the purpose of unethical activity. If a security flaw in software is discovered, manufacturers will work quickly to release an update to get rid of these types of flaws.
When to update?
So, when should you be Updating Firmware on CCTV DVR or NVR? Well, generally speaking, we recommend not looking to update firmware on your recorder except for 3 circumstances. The first is when there is a publicly released update from the manufacturer. These will appear as available when you use the ‘search for update’ option within the maintenance or settings pages of your recorder. Sometimes it will detect the existence of a potential update on its own, and sometimes you may have to manually search. Either way, if an update presents itself in this fashion- download it as this is a recommendation of the manufacturer to patch what might be a critical flaw, fix a bug(s), or enable an important feature.
The other times you would try to update, even if there is no visible update, is if your recorder is behaving strangely despite all other troubleshooting options being exhausted. Additionally, if your recorder is older and you have a newer camera, sometimes an update can fix communication errors caused by gaps in the age of the firmware between these devices. In either of these cases, we always require that you reach out to tech support for an assessment- as our agents need to request direct firmware updates from the manufacturer when no public update has been released. They often work behind the scenes to create updates that are not publicly released and are for internal testing. It is not recommended to update firmware simply on a whim, as this can actually cause problems by bringing the device out of compatibility with other connected devices thus causing even more headaches.
The best thing to do if you think your recorder or cameras are experiencing an issue that might be resolved by the firmware is to reach out to our incredible tech support team. Our Techs know the ins and outs of these systems and many common issues can be resolved without the need for firmware upgrades. Our techs can often remote in, and even perform a firmware update themselves if its determined such a course of action is needed.
That about covers it for Updating Firmware on CCTV DVR or NVR. for Tech support, or any other questions please call 561-288-5258.