All About Wii System Menu Updates

I’ve seen plenty of posts about system updates and what to do, usually when the user has softmods installed. Let’s clear the air a bit.

What is a System Update?

First off, let’s talk about the actual System Update. A System Update is firmware pushed to your Wii by Nintendo to do any number of these things:

  • Update the Wii bootloader
  • Add new features to the Wii
  • Change the System Menu version (and the System Menu IOS for absolutely no good reason)
  • Try to patch homebrew exploits and delete existing homebrew
  • Update various IOSes
  • Many other things

That point about homebrew may have you worried, but there’s no reason to be worried. Let me explain why.

Nintendo released the 4.3 update in June of 2010. They later released a mini-update for the 4.3 update in September of 2010. Finally, in November of 2012, they released another mini-update. This would be the final official update the Wii ever sees.

In short, the Wii has not received an update in more than 7 years. They aren’t going to randomly release a Wii update in 2020 or later. They no longer support the Wii, meaning no more updates, and even if they released the update, there would be no good way to push it to the Wii Mini or vWii, two major Wii platforms.

However, there are reasons why Wii games may prompt you for an update or the Wii system update screen in settings may update besides an official update from Nintendo. Read the FAQ below to learn more.

FAQ

After installing cIOS, all my disc games prompt me for an update! What do I do?

First of all, do not update. This is completely normal behavior. The reason why this happens is because now that you’ve installed cIOS, the disc believes that that’s not the IOS Nintendo wants there, so it forces an update to restore that cIOS that Nintendo wants in that slot. The way to bypass this is to install Priiloader and use it to block updates. See wii.guide/priiloader for more information on how to do this.

The System Update warning screen says it’s going to delete all homebrew! Am I going to go to jail? What do I do?

If you’re at this screen, it means you’ve tried to start the process of a System Update. I’m not going to judge you for doing that, but you should absolutely not be running an update. There’s not much good if any that a system update can do, all it will do is wipe out your cIOS and possibly the Homebrew Channel. What you should do from here is hold down the power button until the Wii turns off, then turn it back on, and never go to a System Update again. If you’re trying to run disc games, see the previous question.

Can running a System Update brick my Wii if I have homebrew?

There’s no simple answer to this question. System Menu updates can’t brick your Wii just because it has homebrew on it, but there is an exception to this rule. I’ll talk about that in a second. There is a way that System Update can brick your Wii regardless of whether you have homebrew or not, which I will talk about in the next question, however for the purpose of this question, no, updating will not brick your Wii if it has homebrew.

There is an exception to what I just said:

If you are on version 4.1 or earlier, and your Wii was originally Korean but was region changed to any other region, updating to 4.2 or 4.3 either officially or through homebrew (it’s not recommended you do it through homebrew) will certainly brick your Wii. This is because Nintendo added a check in 4.2 to check for Wiis that were originally Korean and had their region changed. It then bricks these Wiis. There are 2 workarounds for this issue. You can either change back to the Korean region, or you can use the homebrew app KoreanKii to delete the key that Nintendo checks. KoreanKii itself has a chance to brick your Wii, but it’s relatively slim.

Can running a System Update brick my Wii even if I don’t have homebrew?

Depending on what version you’re on before you run the update, yes, it can. Let me explain why.

If you are on version 4.2 or higher, a System Update will not brick your Wii for the most part (for the most part because of what I mentioned in the last question along with the fact that we can’t predict exactly what will happen. Any update has a small chance of bricking your Wii)

If you are on version 4.1 or lower, a System Update has an elevated chance of bricking your Wii. The reason has nothing to do with homebrew, and therefore it can affect any Wii, even if it doesn’t have homebrew. The reason this happens is because with the 4.2 update (this is also pushed if you update directly from 4.1 or lower to 4.3) Nintendo released an update for boot2, the earliest stage of the Wii’s boot process that can be modified. The problem is you have to be very careful when updating boot2, as it is nearly impossible (if it’s possible at all) to fix a brick that occurs because of this, and if the process of updating boot2 is interrupted in any way or the NAND is corrupted, the Wii is toast. Now, you’d think a company like Nintendo would be very careful when working with something like this, but the code they use to update boot2 is very suspicious and not very good. It had never been tested on retail Wiis prior to the release of the 4.2 update. It was so suspicious that Team Twiizers (the team behind HackMii Installer and other projects) wrote their own code to install BootMii as boot2.

I’m running version 4.1 (or lower). Should I update to 4.3 and is it safe to do so even when I have all my homebrew installed?

While on the surface it may appear that there’s no reason to update your Wii from 4.1 or lower to 4.3 due to the lack of real new features and the Wii Shop Channel being irrelevant, but here at the sub, we recommend that you update, because most homebrew that exists is meant to work with 4.3, and while it may work on older versions, it is meant to run on 4.3. There are also some things, such as RiiConnect24, that don’t work at all unless you’re on 4.3. Also, if you’re already on 4.3, there’s less risk of having problems if you run a System Update by mistake.

Now to answer the second part of this question, is it safe, the answer is that it is mostly safe. There is the chance of bricking your Wii that I mentioned in the previous question, but it’s low enough that I wouldn’t worry about it. After updating, you may lose the Homebrew Channel, meaning you’ll have to reinstall it using an exploit, and you will also have to reinstall your cIOS. Lastly, you’ll have to reinstall BootMii if you had it installed as boot2 (you may also have to reinstall BootMii if you had it as an IOS), and you may have to reinstall Priiloader. But besides that, everything should work like it did before.

I hope I cleared up the air regarding system updates. Feel free to comment if you have any further questions.