Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Update and Upgrade

computer_keys_pdUpdate vs Upgrade

Updates in computer hardware and software are patches of code that are released in order to address certain issues or to activate specific functionalities. The need to release an update stems from the fact that there are certain problems that are not apparent before the product is released. The manufacturer only discovers the problems once users report and request for help. An upgrade is the act of replacing your product with a newer, and often more superior, version or similar product. Therefore, an update modifies your current product while an upgrade totally replaces it.

When it comes to the frequency, upgrades happen a lot less often compared to updates. A necessary part of an upgrade is the addition of new features; the development of which takes time. Most respectable companies address problems quickly. Because of this, you are likely to find more than a few updates available as they come up with solutions for each problem.

For commercial software, there is also the issue of cost. Updates are always free as they are not distinct software but are only meant to modify a pre-existing installation. On the other hand, upgrades are distinct and do not need the older software to function. You can expect to pay full price for the upgrade, though some offer discounts for those who own the older version. This is not really applicable when it comes to free software as they do not cost anything to use in the first place.

When a new update is released, people are encouraged to download and install it to solve or prevent the problem. This is even more important when the update addresses a security flaw in the software that may be exploited. An upgrade only offers new features and most users who are satisfied with what they have or do not see the need to spend more, could refuse to buy the newer version. A lot of people often skip every other upgrade to minimize cost while still being able to catch-up every now and then.


1. An update is a patch that is made available after the product has been released, often to solve problems or glitches, while an upgrade is the replacement of an older version of one product to a newer one

2. There could be many updates for a certain product but only few upgrades

3. Updates are often free while an upgrade would cost money

4. Updates are often necessary while upgrades are not

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  1. Differentiation is made very simple and clear.

  2. This is an upgrade not just an update.

  3. ¤Thnx¤
    ¤Its really help me to understand difference between update and upgrade.¤

  4. Very simple, clear n easy explanation..
    Really helped to understand the differentiation..

  5. Thanks a million your website helped me a lot. Actually it give me exactly what I needed, hope you keep it hosted so that we can continue to benefit from it.

  6. Its really awesome and informative dear

  7. Exactly the distinction I was looking for…but maybe consider revising the phrase “more superior” to just “superior” in order not to undermine your credibility.

  8. My employer makes hardware that comes with software and firmware. It’s business-to-business or biz-to-gov stuff. We do releases at a pace we can stand, and they always include fixes. Many releases include new, or improved functionality. We don’t charge for that. So that departs from the model you describe.

    Only a new version of hardware (after several years of dev and test) is considered a “new product” and gets a whole new price list structure. And the previous version lingers for a while, for customers with existing fleets or those who need specific, existing integrations with third-party systems, and then ages out and is displaced by the newer-hardware product.
    Otherwise, a customer can pay for any (or a combination) of a very few niche upgrades that modify the base product in specific ways, but those are optional from our perspective. The customer might not consider them optional… due to their industry requirements, but those are the exceptions, and there is a small, finite number of them associated with a product. As in, you could count them on the fingers of one hand, over the life of the product.

    But for keeping-up-with / ahead-of the general market for our kind of products, we just keep watching the industry trends for pain-points and other reasons that customers might want new functionality that we could implement in the current hardware, and then we change the f/w or the s/w or both and post the release with the new features. Customers don’t have to use any that they don’t need, but it’s all included in the initial product and service-contract prices.

    So, your description of the difference-between doesn’t quite fit.

    We’re trying to standardize our language around
    – “If this release is mostly fixes and security stuff, and minimal-or-no feature improvements, then call it an update”.
    – “If this release has some important improvements that we can tout, and that allow existing or prospective customers to enter a new niche or be more competitive in their industry, etc., then call it an upgrade.” (It will also contain fixes, ‘cuz we try not to wait on those.)

    You already pay a premium price for a premium product and service, so either kind – update or upgrade – is no additional charge.

    Actually, if somebody could suggest a different terminology for what we release, I would be happy to promote it at work. But for now, it’s update vs upgrade, and the distinction is blurry, and it doesn’t follow the rule in your article.

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