BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System, and it is typically a software that is embedded on the motherboard of a system. It controls the hardware such as disk drives, keyboard, mouse, display settings, pen drive etc., that are attached to it, and sends the information to the Operating System (OS) of a computer. Motherboard is the center of coordination in a computer that unites the hardware of the system and enables communication between each other. Any upgrades that are required in a computer depends on the type of the motherboard and its inbuilt features.
What is Computer's BIOS?
The computer's BIOS is basically an EEPROM, which stands for Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory. EEPROM is a non-volatile memory which means that, the information which is stored can be retained later even when it is not powered. EEPROM can be modified by the user, and can be erased and reprogrammed. Most of its components are not serviceable, as it is soldered to the motherboard. The firmware i.e., the coded instruction in the BIOS can be updated or upgraded.
In modern computers, it is inbuilt on a chip called CMOS, which stands for 'complementary metal oxide semiconductor'. The common type of EEPROM is flash memory which is electrically erasable, that exists in CMOS chips. Such type of CMOS chips can be updated to a newer version. Most of the Intel Core Pentium computers and 486 PCs use CMOS chips, which can be easily updated.
Updating BIOS of Your Computer
This is a very important step which you must know. You cannot decide on which type of update you want. Look for your system information on your computer and note the BIOS version number. There are two ways to find its version.
- From the system information screen of your computer, the route to view this screen is: Start → Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Information.
- One way is through the command prompt. Enter the command systeminfo on the run box or on the box that appears after you click on the start button.
There are various companies that manufacture the computer's motherboard. Some of the leading motherboard companies are listed below:
- Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS)
- First International Computer (FIC)
After identifying the motherboard information and your computer's BIOS version, go to the motherboard manufacturer's site and check out for the BIOS update files and download the correct update file. USB thumb drives containing the required files, can also be used instead of downloading files from the Internet. For example, we will take Intel desktops, in which we have various update files such as:
- Express BIOS
- F7 BIOS Flash
- iFlash BIOS
- ISO Image BIOS
- Recovery BIOS
- Integrator Toolkit BIOS
After downloading the required BIOS files, reboot the system and check whether the files are uploaded properly. Some systems automatically reboot after the download, and if your system doesn't reboot by itself, it is advisable to restart it yourself.
As a Word of Caution...
- Identify the right BIOS version number. If you are not able to find it by yourself, ask for help or directly contact the motherboard manufacturer.
- Choose the correct BIOS update file from the motherboard manufacturer's site.
- If you are downloading the BIOS update file from the CD provided by your motherboard manufacturer, ensure that it is not an outdated version.
- Properly understand the instructions given in the manufacturer's site, before you start downloading the BIOS update files.
- Do the update where there is an uninterrupted power supply in order to avoid failure in the updating process.
Update you computer's BIOS only if it is necessary. It is advisable to upgrade the files using USB rather than doing it online from the Internet. By doing this, you can minimize the risk.