What’s the difference between Update and Upgrade

There are times when you have to Update and then there are times you have to Upgrade. The word “Update” and “Upgrade” may look quite similar but there are important differences that you should understand.

update vs upgrade
Difference between update and upgrade

Often times, people confuse or mix the actual terms and meaning. I am not an exception, until I found out. Smiles…

Whether App update, phone update, software update, or an upgrade, I am pretty sure you are familiar with these words.

According to Wikipedia,

“An update is an addition to existing information. A modification of something to a more recent, up-to-update version”.

“An upgrade is an improved or complete replacement of one more component.” In other words, it is replacing existing software or App with something better.

In this post, I will explain update and upgrade in terms of software or application.


Sometimes referred to as Patches are like small fixes and addition to your application. It involves making changes or adding a new feature that is not present initially when the application was developed.

Let’s  take a real life example.

When WhatsApp was developed, there was nothing like “WhatsApp status” or even “WhatsApp sticker”; an update to WhatsApp added a new feature of “status and then sticker”.

Similarly, when Facebook was developed, there was nothing like “Facebook Watch” or “Facebook Messenger”.

So in essence, frequent changes made to your computer, software, hardware, or application like bug fixes, security patches, newer features e.t.c can be termed as an update.

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When a new update is available, people are encouraged to download and install so as to solve or prevent problem.

In most cases, before an update occurs, you will usually be notified either by message or by a visual indicator of an app icon. You might choose either to allow the update to download or cancel the update. Except you have chosen a setting that allows automatic update.

Majority of update occur over a Wi-Fi connection or data connection if you grant the App your permission.

An update may happen frequently and usually run automatically in the background. It may take a couple of seconds or minutes to install an update.

So simply put, updates usually modify, fix and alter your current application on a regular basis while it needs the existing application you are currently using.


An upgrade is somewhat different from an update as upgrade is making a significant change substantial enough to ignore the previous version, unlike an update that still needs the existing version.

Upgrades are usually bigger and complex which might take a couple of minutes or even hours to upgrade a system. It means it is a complete replacement of the existing application.

For instance, changing from Windows 7 to Windows 10 can be termed as an upgrade. If your current mobile phone is Android version 7.0, an upgrade would be buying a new phone with Android version 9.0 or 10.0.

Recommended Read: 6 Phone features to check before buying a new mobile phone

I hope you get it now…. Thumbs!!

A new upgrade supersedes the old product. Which may involve a new purchase or pricing system. So in essence, an upgrade occurs less frequently compared to an update and it is often bigger in size and better than the previous application.

Wrapping Up!

Both update and upgrade make changes and affect product performance and are integral to security, compatibility, and a smooth user experience.

Let me use this real life scenario to conclude… You will love it.

Let’s say you live in a one-bedroom apartment, an upgrade would be moving to another comfortable apartment of 3 or 5 bedroom apartment. Or even moving to a duplex While update would be staying in the same bedroom apartment and adding some paint to the interiors or buying some new pieces of stuff.

Ok, so I hope you now have an understanding of update and Upgrade. If you have anything to add you think I missed, feel free to post it in the comment box below.

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