General Tech Q & A Tech Tips

The Difference Between Update and Upgrade

Updates and upgrades can seem pretty similar. You know one tends to cost more (sometimes a LOT more), many users are asking- what’s the difference?

Updates and upgrades

Both usually require you restarting your computer (and both interrupt your work, unless you have a rule in place that pushes those updates through when you’re not in your peak productivity time). Things should work or look differently with both, hopefully in a good way.

Update vs Upgrade


Updating means modernizing, improving, overhauling, or bringing something new and up to date version in a product with the help of patches of codes released by software developer or operator. Update is generally associated with software or operating system of any computing device. Update basically fix those problems of a program or software that were either not present at the time of development or mistakenly forgotten by the developer. So, in update there is no kind of physical replacement of product. It simple means to bring up the old version of a software to the latest version without actually replacing it.

Updates and upgrades


Upgrade means replacing the old product or commodity with a completely new version of the same product or commodity. The term upgrade mostly used with computing and electronic appliances and stands for replacement of a hardware, software or any part with a newer and better version with the aim of improving the characteristics of the product. In upgradation of computers, common examples includes installing additional RAM, replacing larger space hard disks with low space hard disks, replacing processor or graphics cards or installing a latest versions of software.

Differences Between Update and Upgrade

The basic difference that exists between updating and upgrade is how these two methods are performed and which parts of hardware or software are affects by these two kind of services.

Updates are kind of like small fixes around your house, whereas an upgrade is fully gutting your house and renovating it. One builds on top of something existing and can take very little time. The other wipes the slate, starts over, and takes longer.

When you update a program, you’re applying new patches and changes to the existing file on your computer. The update file you’re downloading and installing is pretty small comparatively, so it doesn’t take long. While the program may look different to you as the end user, it’s usually in a pretty minor way.

When you upgrade a program, then the existing file is being uninstalled, and a new one is being installed in its place. This takes significantly longer, and there are many more changes to the program in an upgrade than there is with an update. The upgrade file is much bigger than an update file for the same program because it’s going to contain significantly more data. With an upgrade, the program should look significantly different than it did before. Think Windows 8.1 compared to Windows 10 in difference.

Following are the key differences between update and upgrade.

  • Update mostly deals with the software and operating system of any computing devices while upgrade deals in both software and hardware.
  • Update means making some changes in an existing product without actually replacing it. Upgrade means introducing something new or latest version of the previous product.
  • Update is performed with the help of patches of codes released by developer or programmer as you see in form of Windows update notification. Upgrade means totally manufacturing the latest model or version also there exists some pattern of old product.
  • Upgrade is something intangible development while upgrade is a form of tangible development.
  • Update can be free and with price usually free as updating the existing version of MS Office. Upgrade means physically replacing a product so it means you have to purchase it from market that results in cost.
  • Updates are more necessary as compare to upgrade.


  • 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
  • There could be many updates for a certain product but only few upgrades
  • Updates are often free while an upgrade would cost money
  • Updates are often necessary while upgrades are not

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