BlackBerry OS (and "Beta" OS) Upgrade Myths Dispelled:
Please Login to Remove!
So, you're considering upgrading your OS. Maybe the OS is from another carrier. You've heard all the rumors like "don't load another carrier's OS or you'll screw up your device" or "if you load another carrier's OS you'll void your warranty. I'm going to put to rest some of these crazy myths.
1. Installing another carrier's OS voids my warranty."
Not true. The OS can be upgraded/downgraded as many times as you want and nobody, including your carrier, will ever know. You may have trouble getting support from the carrier if you're using an OS that they don't officially support. However, most techs will simply ask that you reload the supported OS and call back. Really, though, there is no reason to do this most of the time since you probably found the later OS here and there is MUCH better support here than from your carrier. Worst case scenario is it's possible that you may have to reload a carrier supported OS if something happens and you have to get a warranty exchange on your device.
2. Loading another carrier's OS (or beta OS) will "screw up" my device."
Not true. Unless you are loading a brand new basic OS beta that you found on the internet this is not true. Let's say you have OS 126.96.36.199 on your device (that's the official version from your carrier) and you found 188.8.131.52 (not from your carrier) on the internet. While it's technically a "beta" if no carrier has released it keep in mind that the .97 to .119 update only includes incremental bug fixes. Most likely it's just a matter of time before some carrier releases it, maybe even yours. Generally, you are better off with the later version, regardless of where it came from or what carrier may have released it. However, let's say you are running 184.108.40.206 and you find OS 220.127.116.11 for your device. Now it's possible you will "screw it up" as you don't really know what features are included and whether they work reliably on the device. However, with that being said, the worst case scenario here is you downgrade back to your original OS. Again, it doesn't void any warranty. You just take the risk of testing it and seeing what works and what doesn't.
3. OS's are developed by each carrier specifically for their brand of device.
Not true. RIM develops every OS version for a specific device. For purposes of this myth we'll say we're working with an 8320. They send the new 8320 OS version out for testing to all the carriers that sell the 8320. The carriers do their own testing of the OS on the 8320. If they find the OS satisfactory, they make a public release. If not, they submit the bugs they find to RIM and RIM attempts to fix and send out an update (a new version number would be then be assigned.) This process can take months until a carrier gets a version they like. However, another carrier may test it and find that it's fine and they release it. As of late, these prereleased versions have been leaking to the internet. They are the versions that RIM sends to every carrier so people refer to them as "unbranded." This only means that the vendor.xml (the file that tells Loader.exe which brand of device to load it to) is empty and the OS will load to ANY 8320, regardless of carrier brand (vendor ID.) When a carrier decides to make a public release, they simply add the vendor.xml file to it and the OS is now "branded" to that carrier. During this "branding" no other change is made to the OS other than adding the vendor.xml and changing the file name to reflect the individual carrier name. When we remove the vendor.xml we have, in effect, "unbranded" it. Again, ALL the OS's are created, and developed by RIM for each specific type of device.
4. I tried a "beta" OS for my device and got a strange error and had to reload my original OS and lost all my data. I'm going to wait for my carrier's official release!
I really hate this one. This is pointless. ALL the OS's install the same way. Deleting the vendor.xml has no effect on how the OS loads or what loads to a certain device. It only affects whether or not the OS will load at all. If the OS loads it will load as to the programming in the firmware of the device. Each device has a vendor code written into the device firmware and the OS will load per that vendor code. So, once the OS is on the device, it's loaded how the carrier would want it, regardless of where the OS came from. If you received an error while loading a beta, most likely it's a computer/usb port/cable issue and not an issue with the OS not being from your carrier. All things being equal, you will likely have the EXACT same error with an OS downloaded from your carrier's website.
5. Upgrading my OS to a new OS (including betas) might cause loss of all my data.
Not true. By default, the loader.exe application will make a backup, usually named LoaderBackup-(2008-12-25).ipd and generally placed in My Documents (but not always--it could be located somewhere else so you may have to search for it) If the loader.exe application works as it's designed, it will make the backup file, then it will erase the device of all data and it's OS. It will then do a quick reboot where you may see the "507" error on the device and then the process will load the new OS .cod files. You will see these being loaded along with status bars. When this is done, the device will reboot. The loader screen will say "waiting for device initialization." You will see the hourglass for up to 20-30 minutes. This is normal, so don't get impatient. Once that's done, the restore process will kick in and restore the backup .ipd file it made during the initial part of the loader process. As long as the loader process goes smoothly you will have an upgraded device with all your 3rd party apps and all your data ready to go.
However, if something doesn't go right you will still have the backup .ipd file on your computer and that .ipd file can be restored manually to the BB (or any BB) using Desktop Manager's Backup/Restore feature. The only bad thing about having the loader process error in the middle is that all your 3rd party apps will be lost. If you're not concerned with this then it's no big deal. If this does concern you then you can follow the 3rd party app backup procedure here before starting the OS update. However, under normal circumstances you won't need the 3rd party backup file as it will be done automatically for you, but it's there if you need it. It's necessary, though, to do the 3rd party app backup before running the OS update.
Keep in mind that after an OS reload you will lose most 3rd party app data and registration codes for any purchased 3rd party apps that require unlock/registration codes. The same original codes you received should still work as they are usually tied to the PIN. It's recommended that you keep any codes received for your purchased apps. I, personally, keep them in my password keeper.
6. I loaded a "beta" and now my carrier has released the same version. Do I need to reload from my carrier so I don't have a beta?
No. If the version numbers match, then there is NO difference between the version that you loaded that wasn't yet released and the version that's official from a carrier's (even your carrier's) website. If anything was to change in the OS RIM would issue it a new version number. In this case, you just magically went from "beta" to "official."
7. I loaded this new OS and it gave me 3Mb more free memory!
While this may be true at the time of loading, it won't stay that way. There is some data that is not restored during the process. Most (but not all) of it is 3rd party app data. It's all lost during the upgrade. Also, as the OS runs it uses memory that won't be regained even after a battery pull. Most OS upgrades, especially from 4.5.0.xxx to 4.5.0.xxx use pretty much the same amount of memory. You can see the amount of memory used in the Loader application before loading the OS.
[b]8. The Desktop Manager says I will have to reactivate in order to receive email after the update.
Yes. If you are a BIS user (meaning personal email only) then after the upgrade the service books for your email should be resent automatically. However, after the upgrade, it's a good idea to go to Options >Advanced Options >Host Routing Table >Menu Key >Register Now. This will force the device to register on the network and push your service books.
If you are a BES user (meaning corporate or work email and your device is connected to a BES server at work or somewhere eles) you will need to reactivate the device on the BES. Until you do so, you won't be able to send/receive your work email or have your data sync'd wirelessly with the server. If you do the upgrade using Desktop Manager loaded properly for BES on a computer connected to your work email or vpn'd in to your network, then the Enterprise Activation will start automatically after the ugprade. However, if you just use Loader.exe or your DM is not connected to the work email system then you will need to obtain an Enterprise Activation password from your IT department. This is a common occurence and your IT department will usually give it to you with little or no hassle. If you're not sure, be sure and talk to your IT department BEFORE starting the upgrade as afterward your email will be broken until the device is activated. The password has to be set each time you upgrade and is only good for 24-48 hours depending on how your IT department sets the password. Then you simply go to Options >Advanced Options >Enterprise Activation and enter your email address and the password they provided. Instructions for loading an OS (beta or official.)
(Make sure the device is NOT connected to the PC until instructed.)
1. Download the OS to your computer.
2. Install the OS by double clicking on it. Vista users, right click on it and select "Run As Administrator."
3. Browse to C:\program files\common files\research in motion\apploader and delete the vendor.xml file. Do this regardless of whether the device came from your carrier or not. Again, it has no effect on what apps or how the OS is loaded to the device. It only determines "if" the OS is loaded. It doesn't hurt to remove it and I recommend removing it as a matter of habit.
4. Plug in device and browse to C:\program files\common files\research in motion\apploader and double click on Loader.exe. Follow the on screen instructions.
5. (For BES users only) Contact your IT department for an Enterprise Activation password and enter your email address and the password in Options >Advanced Options >Enterprise Activation.
I installed the new OS on my device but I don't like it. I have problems with it.
First search the forums here. Maybe someone else had the same problem. If you don't find anything with a search, post a new thread and ask if anyone can shed any light on the problem.
If you are certain it's an issue with the new OS and you want to downgrade the steps are easy.
1. Go to Control Panel >Add/Remove Programs
2. Remove the new OS from the list of installed programs. Be sure that no OS's are installed for your specific device that are newer than the one you want to install. If there are others, uninstall them too.
3. Install the OS you would like to put back on your device by double clicking on the .exe file. Vista users be sure and right click on the file and select "Run As Administrator."
4. Navigate to C:\program files\common files\research in motion\apploader and delete the vendor.xml file (regardless of whether the file came from your carrier or not.)
5. Plug in device and navigate to C:\program files\common files\research in motion\apploader and run Loader.exe. Your device will be downgraded in the same manner it was upgraded.
Some other tips (and I'll try to add to these as time goes on
1. If you already have OS 4.5 and Docs To Go and have upgraded to the free registered version that includes Sheet To Go or have upgraded to the premium version you'll want to browse to C:\program files\common files\research in motion\shared\Loader Files\<Your OS>\ Rename DocumentsToGo.alx to DocumentsToGo.old, move the file to a new folder or just delete it all together. If you don't you will have your Documents To Go version downgraded to the version included with the OS and you will lose Sheet To Go and will have to redownload it. If you decide to rename the file, make sure that you have filename extensions visible. At the top of the Windows Explorer window or My Computer window go to >Tools >Folder Options >View. Uncheck the box that says "Hide extensions for known file types." If you don't do this and you attempt to rename a file, you will end up with a filename like "DocumentsToGo.old.alx" and you will still lose your current version of Docs To Go.
2. If you are an advanced user and want to free up some memory on your device you can follow my instructions here on how to free memory, add/remove themes and prevent data loss due to low memory.
Last edited by John Clark; 01-18-2009 at 04:10 PM..