Sometimes, “Recommendations” Are Actually “Requirements”

About a month ago, we talked about how MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 2.2 “secretly” resolved problems that 2011 MacBook Pros were having with 6.0Gb/s SATA performance.

Since we posted about the fix, we’ve been hearing from customers that some firmware updates are not fully completing… even though it appears that it is. These failed updates offered no indication that the update didn’t complete.

So a bit of sleuthing on our behalf turned up the culprit. When installing the update using Software Update, the installer informs you that it is recommended that you plug in your MacBook Pro to working power source while installing. This makes sense – the one time you don’t want your battery to go out is when running a firmware update.

However, if you download the update via its Apple KnowledgeBase page, though, the description there states that you must have your MacBook Pro connected to the power connector for installation.

From all the reports we’ve seen, it would appear that the KnowledgeBase instructions are the more accurate or at least more specific. Connecting the power supply while updating your firmware isn’t a recommendation; it’s a requirement.

Taking that requirement mindset even further is that when installing any firmware update on any Mac notebook, make sure you have it connected to its wall outlet power adapter before you start the update. Then, after running the updater, check the Hardware Overview screen in System Profiler and see if the the correct new Boot ROM or SMC version number for the update you’re running is present. If you still have the old version, then you will need to run the update again.

Naturally, this connect to power requirement is already solved for desktop machine users. But if you can think of a way to update a desktop machine like an iMac, Mac Pro, or mini without being connected to power, we’d like to hear about it!


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  • A different requirement may have got me into trouble.
    Using a mid-2011 Mini (and 12GB, a 4 and an 8, of OWC RAM which is why I’m here)
    Did the firmware update from Software Update just a few days ago.
    It crashed the machine.

    It showed it was updated: Boot ROM Version: MM51.0077.B10
    Firmware update now says it won’t run on this Mac, I’d guess because it thinks it’s done.

    I looked it up on the Apple website after I got it working.
    There, it says it has to be done with an Apple keyboard and mouse, and nothing else plugged in.

    Oops. Mini doesn’t come with a keyboard and mouse. I had an external drive (also OWC) plugged in.

    Since then the Mini has been frozen every morning (apparently after doing a CArbon Copy Cloner backup).

    Thoughts?

    Oh, I did reset the SMC and that got the external drive back to where I could get it to mount.




  • Updating mac pro without power:

    UPS. From 50,000 feet, no different than the battery in the laptop.




  • You mention: “Then, after running the updater, check the Hardware Overview screen in System Profiler and see if the the correct new Boot ROM or SMC version number for the update you’re running is present. If you still have the old version, then you will need to run the update again.”

    How do I know which Boot ROM or SMC version number I am supposed to have, so I know what to look for in the system profiler. Sorry, I’m unfamiliar with these things.




    • There are two ways to check this.

      The “exact” way: The correct version is generally given in the Apple KnowledgeBase article regarding the update. For example, for the EFI Firmware Update 2.2 for the early 2011 MacBook Pros, the Boot ROM version is given at the bottom.

      The “simple way:” Check the Boot ROM and SMC version information before you install the updater. Write down the two numbers. Run the Updater. Check them again. Are they the same as they were before? If so, the update didn’t take. Has one or both changed? The update was likely applied.

      Personally, I go with the “exact” method, but the “simple” method should work just as well in most cases.