What is the BIOS?

The term BIOS comes from the initials of  Basic Input Output System  . The BIOS is a fundamental element of any PC and starts and checks, during startup, all hardware components such as hard disk, keyboard, screen, mouse and RAM. It also prepares the computer for Windows to load and run. Physically it is one of the motherboard or motherboard chips . On it is recorded the software ( firmware ) that regulates what you have to do and how to do it. The exact position of the plate is usually indicated in the plate manual.

How does it work?

The BIOS job starts just when you turn on the PC. It acts as an intermediary between the hardware (board, processor, RAM, disks, etc.) and Windows or other operating systems .
When the computer is started up the hardware and software are separated. Neither “knows” that the other exists. Nor Windows. The BIOS is responsible, among other things, for solving that problem. First check that everything is fine. Then it tells the hardware where to look for the operating system. And to Windows what hardware is there and if it is available or not.

If the BIOS detects a serious problem, it does not even let Windows load. That gives an idea of ​​how essential it is. Other basic tasks are:

  •  It shows information about the type and version of BIOS and the class and speed of the CPU, and checks itself.
  • Check the amount and integrity of the  system RAM .
  • Detects and initializes equipment components and devices: keyboard, mouse, graphics card, hard drive, DVD, etc.
  • Activate other specific BIOS, such as the video card.
  • Load varied settings (such as time and date).
  • Sets from which drives the PC can boot (hard drive, CD, USB, etc.).

The BIOS reports what it does through lines of text that appear very quickly on the screen. They are called POST , by Power-On Self Test .
The BIOS POST also indicates how to access its configuration screen. In modern PCs POST also shows the mnemonic to the boot menu ( Boot Menu ). It is the easiest way to choose from where to boot the PC (hard drive, DVD, USB, etc.)

How to configure the BIOS

Many of the BIOS options can be changed. The screen that allows you to define several of the BIOS settings is called BIOS or CMOS Setup. Or change the ones you have by default.

First follow these  steps to enter the configuration . You access a screen that generally looks similar to the image above. It is usually in English and has these configurable sections:

  • Main or Standard CMOS Features: Change the time and date. Also view and configure various options of the hard disk or other disk drives. It also shows information about the BIOS, CPU and memory. In modern BIOS this information is sometimes in a separate section called  Info.
  • Advanced or Advanced BIOS Features: Activate or deactivate network functions (LAN or wireless), USB, numeric keypad. Defines the type of hard disk controller (SATA, IDE). Makes the BIOS POST display or not. On older computers, the boot sequence of the PC is changed here (see  Boot , below). Also options of the CPU, the memory or the BIOS itself, many of them oriented to improve performance.
  • Security: Define, change or remove passwords to enter BIOS Setup or the system. In older models these options are included in sections called  Advanced  BIOS Features  and  Set Password .
  • Power or Power Management Setup: Manages the power saving features of the PC. For example, if the screen or hard disk should or should not go into suspension. Or how to “wake up” the PC when it enters that state. There are BIOS that have a  Hardware Monitor  in this section or in a separate,  PC Health Status . Displays data on the CPU or case temperature, voltage or fan speed. And it allows you to change aspects such as the temperature limit so that a warning alarm is activated.
  • Boot: The boot sequence is usually  changed here , to define from which units the PC should start and in what order. In the  Boot  options are also defined that accelerate startup, such as  Quick / Silent  Boot  or  Boot  Booster . And if the message about the keys to enter the BIOS settings must be displayed on the POST.
  • Exit: Here there are several options to exit the BIOS Setup, saving or not saving changes, to discard the changes and keep it, or load the factory settings if there have been problems with changes you have made.


NOTE: The above options can be found in separate sections with different names. Sometimes two types of factory settings are available:  Load Fail-Safe Defaults  (basic, very stable configurations) or  Load Optimized Defaults  (less stable configurations but optimized for better performance). In older versions there are additional configurations related to hard drives and other devices, or to the card slots on the motherboard. These are advanced options that are included in  Integrated  Peripherals  and  PnP / PCI Configurations .

Is it good to update the BIOS?

It depends on the case. There are two basic reasons why you need to do it: 

  • Correct problems of all kinds related to the motherboard or the BIOS itself.
  • Add functionalities. As support for new Windows, processors or hard drives, improved performance or compatibility of hardware or software, etc.

Risks of updating the BIOS

If you do the wrong update you can spoil the motherboard without solution and then be forced to buy a new one. It is essential to be very very careful. Also make sure there are no power outages until you have finished the process. It is recommended not to update it unless it is essential. If you have to do it, go to a technical service or ask for help from an advanced user.

Always be careful to make a backup of your stuff before trying to update it. The best option in this regard is to create a complete copy of everything on your PC by following these steps:

  • Create a system image in Windows 7
  • Create it in Windows 8 or 8.1
  • Create the image in Windows 10

Most modern BIOSes are of the Flash ROM type and anyone can update them using a special installation file. Follow these steps:

  1. Find out the model of your motherboard .
  2. Go to the website of your manufacturer or the team and look for information on how to update it. In general it is explained in a very detailed way.
  3. Follow the instructions to the letter.

Change the BIOS battery

The BIOS settings are retained when the PC is turned off because they are stored on a memory chip called CMOS. That memory is maintained with a small battery. It consumes so little energy that it is normal not to have to change it throughout the life of the PC. But sometimes you have to do it when the battery is used up. If you need to change it,  find out the model of your motherboard . Then go to the site of the manufacturer of the board or your PC and do a search of your model board or equipment; Download your manual and find out how to replace it.

BIOS setup screen

The screen that allows you to define several of the BIOS settings is called BIOS or CMOS Setup. Or change the ones you have by default.

First follow these steps to enter the configuration . You access a screen that generally looks similar to the image above. It is usually in English and has these configurable sections:

  • Main or Standard CMOS Features
    Change the time and date. Also view and configure various options of the hard disk or other disk drives. It also shows information about the BIOS, CPU and memory (in modern BIOS that information is sometimes in a separate section called Info ).
  • Advanced or Advanced BIOS Features
    Enable or disable network functions (LAN or wireless), USB, the numeric keypad. Define the type of hard disk controller (SATA, IDE). Have the POST of the BIOS displayed or not.
    On older computers, the boot sequence of the PC is changed here (see Boot , below). Also options of the CPU, memory or the BIOS itself. Many of them aimed at improving performance.
  • Security
    Define, change or remove passwords to enter the BIOS Setup or the system. In older models these options are included in sections called Advanced BIOS Features and Set Password .
  • Power or Power Management Setup
    Manage the power saving features of the PC. For example, if the screen or hard disk should or should not go into suspension. Or how to “wake up” the PC when it enters that state.
    There are BIOS that have a Hardware Monitor in this section (or in a separate one, PC Health Status ). Displays data on the CPU or case temperature, voltage or fan speed. And it allows you to change aspects such as the temperature limit so that a warning alarm is activated.
  • Boot The boot sequence
    is usually changed here . To define from which units the PC should start and in what order.
    In the Boot options are also defined that accelerate startup, such as Quick / Silent Boot or Boot Booster . And if the message about the keys to enter the BIOS settings must be displayed on the POST.
  • Exit
    Several possibilities are usually available: exit BIOS Setup saving changes or not, discard changes and keep them or load factory settings if there have been problems with changes you have made.
    NOTE:
    These options can be found in separate sections with somewhat different names. And sometimes two types of factory settings are available: Load Fail-Safe Defaults (basic, very stable configurations) or Load Optimized Defaults (less stable configurations but optimized for better performance).

In older versions there are additional configurations related to hard drives and other devices, or to the card slots on the motherboard. These are advanced options that are included in Integrated Peripherals and PnP / PCI Configurations .

Is it good to update the BIOS?

It depends on the case. There are two basic reasons to need to do it:

  • Correct problems of all kinds related to the motherboard or the BIOS itself.
  • Add functionalities. As support for new Windows, processors or hard drives, improved performance or compatibility of hardware or software, etc.

UPDATING THE BIOS HAS IMPORTANT RISKS. If you do it wrong you can spoil the motherboard without solution and have to buy a new one. It is essential to be very very careful. Also ensure there are no power outages until finished.

DO NOT update it except when it is essential. If you have to do it, go to a technical service or ask for help from an advanced user. Always be careful to make a backup of your stuff BEFORE trying to update it. The best option in this regard is to create a complete copy of everything on your PC by following these steps:

  • Create a system image in Windows 7
  • Create it in Windows 8 or 8.1
  • Create the image in Windows 10

Most modern BIOSes are of the Flash ROM type. You can update them by means of a special installation file. First find out the model of your motherboard . Then go to the website of your manufacturer or the team. Look for information on how to update it. In general it is explained in a very detailed way. Follow the instructions to the letter.

Change the BIOS battery

The BIOS settings are retained when the PC is turned off because they are stored on a memory chip called CMOS. That memory is maintained with a small battery. It consumes so little energy that it is normal not to have to change it throughout the life of the PC. But sometimes you have to do it when the battery is used up.

If you need to change it, find out the model of your motherboard . Then go to the site of the manufacturer of the board or your PC. Do a search for your plate or equipment model and download its manual. It must explain how to replace it.

Leave a Comment