When you think about computer updates, you probably don’t think about the BIOS. After all, unlike certain software or apps, your computer’s basic input and output system does not need to be updated very often.
Still, there are times when you need to make improvements or updates to this system and will have to view or even edit your computer’s BIOS — which lives in a small chip located inside your motherboard — so it’s important to know how to do it. RELATED: How to get rid of bloatware on your device.
Let’s take a look at why you would update your computer’s BIOS — and how you can do that without accidentally bricking your computer.
Why you may need to update your computer’s BIOS
If you’re unfamiliar with what BIOS is, it’s basically your computer’s input and output system. It’s what kicks into gear when you boot up your computer, and it starts your computer’s power-on self-test (POST) before passing control over to the boot loader to boot your computer’s operating system. It’s supposed to just work without many (or any) updates needed.
Still, there are times when you may need or want to update your computer’s BIOS. Before we get into this, though, it’s important to point out that this process is a little more touchy than, say, updating your banking app — and doing it incorrectly could cause some major issues with your computer (i.e. rendering it unusable). So, make sure this is something you have to do before you take it on — and make sure you’re super careful when you update it.
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Now, there are a few instances in which it might be appropriate to update your computer’s BIOS — but the basic rule is to only update it if the new version contains an update you need. This type of update won’t make your computer any faster, but it could be necessary if you have new hardware you want to install or you need to fix security or bug issues.
How to update your computer’s BIOS system
The process you should use to update your computer’s BIOS system is very specific, and it’s worth noting again that you need to be extremely careful when you do this or you could end up with a computer that is completely bricked. Make sure you follow the steps closely so you don’t end up with a total mess on your hands.
Please also note that you should NOT — under any circumstances — turn off your computer during this process. If you do, you run the risk of corrupting the BIOS. If that happens your computer won’t be able to complete the startup process or installation — which means it won’t run.
Now, before you start your update, you’ll need to gather a few things, including:
- A reliable outlet
- A blank USB drive
- Any power cords your laptop/computer uses
- Reliable internet connection
- A download of the latest BIOS version for your computer (which you can find via a search using the computer manufacturer name)
Once you have those items on hand, it’s time to update your BIOS system.
1. You’ll need to make sure your computer is plugged into a reliable power source before you start. If your computer shuts off during the update process, you may end up ruining the BIOS (and your computer).
Please also note that if you’re updating your laptop BIOS, you’ll need to make sure that the battery is fully charged and plugged into a reliable power source before you start the process.
2. Next, you’ll need to extract or unzip your BIOS update file from its folder. (Note: As mentioned above, you’ll also need to download the BIOS update file before starting this process.)
- Open the downloaded file by double-clicking it and then click Extract > Extract All > Extract.
- Wait for the extracted folder to open.
3. Look over the README document in the BIOS file if prompted to. This document contains instructions and other important information. If you notice that the instructions for updating your BIOS in the file are different than the ones you are reading here, follow those instead.
4. Plug your blank USB drive into your computer and copy the BIOS file to it. You’ll need to put the BIOS update file on the blank USB flash drive you’re using to complete this process — otherwise, the update won’t work since your BIOS can’t access your computer’s files.
To copy the BIOS file:
- Click the BIOS file one time.
- Press Ctrl + C and open your flash drive.
- Press Ctrl + V to paste the file into the drive.
- DO NOT REMOVE THE FLASH DRIVE. It needs to stay plugged in to the computer for the rest of the process.
5. Next, you’ll need to access the BIOS page and back up your BIOS if possible. To do this:
- Click Start > Power > Restart.
- Quickly begin pressing the key the manufacturer has assigned to the BIOS startup. (Note: This is usually the F12 key, but can also be the Del or Esc keys. You can look it up by using any search engine.)
- If a backup option pops up (or if you see a backup tab at the top of your computer screen), click it and follow the instructions. Please note that not all BIOS pages will let you back up the settings, so if this isn’t an option, don’t panic.
6. As part of this step, you’ll need to enable/use the BIOS update tool. You will have to consult the BIOS manufacturer’s support site for more information on this step, as it can vary from computer to computer.
- In most cases, you’ll initially need to select Boot and confirm that the USB flash drive is available.
- From there, you’ll want to enable any backup or “Flash” options that appear on the menu.
- Next, you’ll want to click on the Advanced tab > Start Flash.
7. Let your computer’s BIOS update.
This step can take a while — sometimes up to an hour or more. Once it’s done, your computer will likely restart on its own, though it may prompt you to confirm the restart process.
That’s it, your BIOS is now updated and your device is good to go. It’s important to make sure you’re performing updates according to the make and model of your device. Instructions should be included in the manual that came with it but if you don’t still have it you can find it online. Tap or click here for thousands of free online user manuals.