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How to Upgrade Your BlackBerry Operating System

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So you got a new BlackBerry or you are simply tired of your old operating system on the device and want to want to upgrade it? If you have never done this before, there are a few things you need to know. The first thing is that there are two different types of OS that you can install: one is the official OS, released by a carrier, and the other one is a leaked OS, meaning that it has not been approved by the carriers to be installed. You can install an official OS using Desktop Manager, but usually it will not let you install a leaked OS unless you do some tweaking. This is something RIM implemented with the latest updates to the Desktop Manager.

These instructions are for Windows users. For BES users, your IT needs to issue an activation code unless you can generate one yourself or have Desktop Manager set up with the BES option, it will do it the next time your run DM.

You should know that if you decide to install a leaked OS, you’re doing it at your own risk.

Always do a backup of your Settings and Contacts using Desktop Manager and 3rd-party apps. Use BBSAK, you will see me mention this app a few times.

Software that you will need to download:

  • Desktop Manager – http://na.blackberry.com/eng/services/desktop/ at his link you can download for windows and Mac. What does Desktop Manager do, you may ask. It lets you load your OS to the BB, add applications, back up your data, custom settings and contacts, sync music, switch devices and more. When setting up DM, choose the option for personal account, not the one which associates it with your work email, unless you have access to changing settings on BES. BES is the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which is mostly used by companies to deliver company emails and settings to your BlackBerry.
  • BlackBerry Swish Army Knife (BBSAK): this application is for both novice and advanced users, but make sure you don’t go around clicking random buttons, you could really do some damage to the BlackBerry. With this application you can install or back up third-party applications, or launch the Application Loader to install your OS. You can read more about the features and find the download link in our previous post.

ScreenHunter_07 Jan. 29 19.30

ScreenHunter_09 Jan. 29 21.02Remember to always back up your data before doing this. On DM, select Backup and Restore.

If you have a password on you BlackBerry, you will need to type that in before it lets you do anything.

Official OS install: To load an official OS, all you need is to download and install the Desktop Manager. It will detect the official OS if it is issued by your carrier. When you connect your BlackBerry via USB, it will prompt you to install the new OS. Simply follow the wizard and select the applications you want to install. Once this is done, you just have to click “Next” until the process is finished. Never unplug the BlackBerry while the device is upgrading. That would render it useless. If you do, there are ways to get it working again, but it’s troublesome.

Official OS from other Carriers and Leaked OS:

Why is DM not detecting the update after installing on PC? You can install the OS issue by other carriers or a leaked OS, but with the latest DM, RIM has blocked that feature. So even if you have installed the OS update, DM will not detect it. Sometimes, it will give you the option to install older versions of the OS.

Fixes:

  • Delete the vendor.xml file found at this location on most Windows PC machines: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Research In Motion\AppLoader
  • A quick fix can be disconnecting your Internet so that DM is not communication with the Web. This will force DM to look for the update on your PC.
  • If the above fix is not working, then you need to launch App Loader by itself. And you need to close DM completely because sometimes it will stay running in background and will prevent App Loader from detecting the update as well. You can find App Loader in the same location mentioned above.
  • Another tool that will help you with OS installs is BBSAK. If you don’t feel like going through all the steps above, simply download this application. It has a quick, one-click way to launch the standalone App Loader. Make sure that your BlackBerry shows it is connected to BBSAK. If it does not show it is connected, that probably means that DM is still running is background and is preventing you from connecting to it, or vice-versa. Like I said before, this tool has many useful features, but it has some advanced features that could wipe your device completely. STAY AWAY from these features if you don’t know what they are or what you are doing.

ScreenHunter_10 Jan. 29 21.03

ScreenHunter_11 Jan. 29 21.05

Once you have launched the App Loader, it should detect the OS update. You then simply select the applications and features you wish to install and follow the wizard until you are done with the upgrade.

I NUKED MY BERRY: something went wrong with the upgrade. Simply follow the steps mentioned above if, for any reason, the App Loader is not detecting your BlackBerry. Take out the battery and connect the BlackBerry via USB. Launch App Loader and wait for it to detect the BlackBerry. Sometimes it will display your PIN or say the device is unknown. This will allow you to get to the step in which you choose what apps and settings you want to install on your BlackBerry. Carefully place the battery back in the BlackBerry without unplugging it from the USB port.

I don’t recommend doing any of this if you are not comfortable with the instructions. If you have other tips to share, please leave a comment. I did not write an in-depth explanation for every step to avoid writing an excessivel long article. Let us know if this one has helped you.

31 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Does this process preserve enterprise activation? The two times I tried to change the OS I needed to bug my IT guys in order to restore my Email and sync. Those guys are busy enough without my creating more work for them.

    • thanks for the question, and no it will not re-activate your BES unless you have DM set up on your computer to associate with your work email address or you have access to generate your own activation codes. I updated the post with this information as well.

  2. And for us Mac users?

    • For Mac users the only safe bet is to follow the instructions to install official OS, I don’t use a Mac So I can’t really say much about it but will see if one of the other writers that uses a Mac has some better insight into it.

      • Thanks, Luis. Unfortunately, that way is whenever the carrier (in my case, Verizon) allows RIM to release it. And the only way (that I know of, anyway) to install it is via the BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac, which is not at all the same as the DTM for Windows. It doesn’t have a way to install even third party apps…have to do these OTA.

        • I believe you are missing something Larry. You can install apps via DM in Mac, there is no issues there. Simply use the Applications button on the top right.

          • You are correct. I’ve been using a BB for 11 years but only recently began using DM for Mac (as you know it’s relatively new). I tried “Applications” but was missing the “+” button at the lower left after I opened the Applications window. The “+” opens a Finder window so I can select something on my Desktop, etc. Thanks!!

          • No problems Larry. The interface took me some time to get used too.

  3. Very Nice Guide

  4. Oh God, Luis.

    If English is not your native language, you should not write posts in English.

    Here are some examples of how broken your English is:
    1) “You should know that if you decide to install a leaked OS your doing it at your own risk”
    The first “your” should be “you’re”, as in “YOU ARE”.
    “your” and “you’re” are not the same!

    2) “Always Do a Backup of your Settings and Contacts using Desktop manager & 3rd Party Apps using (BBSAK) you will hear me mention this app a few times.”

    Why is “Do” with a capital “D”?
    Why are “Settings” and “Contacts” capitalized?
    In “Desktop manager” you capitalize one word but not the other.
    What about adding a comma every now and then?
    I almost chocked reading this sentence and others in your post.

    3) How about READING something before you post it?
    “If you have a password on you BB you will need to type that in before it lets you don anything.”

    “don”?

    4) “I don’t recommend doing this if you do not feel comfortable…”
    So wait… are you using “don’t” or “do not”?
    Both forms in ONE sentence! That’s brilliant!

    5) “This instructions are for Windows users, For BES users your IT needs to issue an activation code unless you can generate one yourself, or have Desktop manager set up with the BES option it will do it the next time your run DM.”

    -“These instructions”, not “This instructions”
    -“for”, not “For” after the comma
    -“your IT department”, not just “your IT”
    -“Desktop Manager”, not “Desktop manager”
    -“you run” not “your run”

    There are more, but I’m so tired…

    • Thanks for the English corrections appreciate the constructive criticism but I was not trying to teach a course in proper English but simply a guide on how to install the OS on a BlackBerry. If it gets the point across that is all I am aiming for since some of our readers have asked for it.

    • “There are more, but I’m so tired…”

      And so, most likely, are all the other readers :-( I’m a communications major and it didn’t bother me at all. It’s a blog…get over it.

    • [email protected]. either a troll or another one of of those misguided people who feel they are contributing something by correcting grammar. Yes, grammar is important, but in this context, your ‘contribution’ is irrelevant.

      IOW, no one cares.

    • Hey – Give Luis a break. He is doing a service for the community. So he has a couple of grammatical errors. Did it detract from your understanding of the article? Probably not.

    • “I almost chocked reading this sentence and others in your post.” <– can you spot a problem here?

      It's even funnier when the grammar police are caught jaywalking.. LOL

    • “I almost chocked reading this sentence and others in your post.”
      Yo grammar a$$hole, how about ya take your rants to somewhere that CARES!?! Sure, it would be nice if every blog post around the world was in 100% grammatically correct English, but it ain’t gonna happen. If the vast majority of users get the jist of the post, that’s good enough for most of us.

  5. Well done Luis……ScReW RoNneY

  6. Thanl you for the detailed info!

  7. LOL, if I were Luis, I would say that I helped others. I don’t care whether I wrote in a good English or not.. The important thing is the correct information I gave to others.

  8. Hey Luis, You are doing a great job. Just ignore the people like Ronny, I do not think comment like above deserve any importance.

    I believe sharing the knowledge in spirit, the way you are doing is important. I wish people (who believe they know something more) could be more constructive.

    In this situation, Ronny could have send you the email directly and pointed out that spell check on this post is somehow missed.

    Any way..will wait for your next post.

    • Thanks Mike, the errors have been corrected and it was an error I made, forgot to proof read the article before it went live. :) the support it much appreciated, like you said the reader that do need the information liked the article so I am happy with that.

  9. I tried everything you suggested above but DM still does not detect the update after installing to PC. I’m using DM version 5.0.1.28 [Nov 11, 2009].

    I deleted vendor.xml, disconnected internet, launched app loader by itself, and used BBSAK. No available updates detected.

    Am I missing something? This is the first time I am upgrading my OS not from the carrier.

    I am using unlocked BB from AT&T. I would really like to upgrade the OS from 4.6 to the latest 5.0.0.509. Help!

  10. One thing you can do from the control panel go to add/remove software on your pc and remove any old OS you have installed on the pc if you have none do a pc reboot and start bbsak first don’t run DM launch app loader and try it again

  11. I’m a newcomer to both Blackberry and also to this site.

    It’s great finding all this info and help. Thankfully, grammatical errors mean nothing – I’m intelligent enough to actually work out what’s really meant when there’s a small typo, or whatever. We ALL make mistakes – including those that are quick to jump on others.

    The grammar police annoy me greatly. Correcting another person’s grammar (when in actual fact they may not even be native English speakers) is not only pointless and irrelevant, but serves only to get peoples backs up. For goodness sakes, if you have such a sad life that you seek not to offer anything constructive – instead looking only for spelling and punctuation errors, then I would consider you’re spending far too much time in front of a monitor and really ought to get out a bit more.

    Saying that though, I’ve just recently jumped ship from the Palm Pre to Blackberry and it’s not quite as bad here as it is on sites such as PreCentral (which, in my opinion, is stuffed to the gills with the largest bunch of ignorant and retarded fanboys I’ve ever seen in one place).

    I’ve found some great info and advice here. While it has (just like everywhere else) it’s negative and sometimes annoying side, this is a much nicer place to be after the experience elsewhere.

    A couple of words for Luis – “Thank you!”. Without guys like you giving up your time to inform and advise others, people like myself would be either stuck with a problem, or unawares that there were options available. Thanks for giving up some of your time and helping out a newcomer like myself.

    I appreciate it. As I know others do too, even if they don’t publicly acknowledge the help as often as they should.

  12. Ronny can “ckock” on this…

  13. Hi, I am new on this site. I need help please. I just upgrade my storm 2 (9550) OS from 500320 (Official OS) to 500607 which was pushd by verizon. With this OS, the keyboard dosn’t appear in BBM groups, and some contacts were merge each others. Is there any solution for this issue? After a few days running this OS, i try to downgrade to 500320 with desktop manager, but its always error.

    Please advise.
    (Sorry for my bad english)

  14. Worked flawlessly for me. Great job on the site!

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