Friday, September 7, 2007

#24 Whats a BIOS?

by Jeff Smith
Hello and welcome back, this week, I'll be explaining a bit more about what a BIOS is and what it does.

Whats a BIOS?
Simply put, BIOS stands for basic input/output system. The bios is a small bit of software that resides on the BIOS chip. In most systems you can access the BIOS at startup time by pressing Delete, or F2 or F10, depending on the maker of the system. The BIOS has a lot of very important configuration options available that impact the performance of your system. IT IS NOT A PLACE TO PLAY AROUND! Back before I knew anything, I completely killed my very own first computer by playing with options in its BIOS that I did not understand. This led me to having to replace the motherboard and re-do everything from scratch. So don't muck about in there without a little bit of research first. If its not broke, don't fix it!

What a BIOS does:
This is the first thing that starts up when you turn on your machine. This chip has many jobs when it powers on, such as checking to see that you have RAM installed, finding and initializing your video hardware, detecting and mounting your various disk drives and other hardware. After it has successfully found all the hardware, it will start up your operating system.
Once your operating system is running, the BIOS becomes a kind of middle-man between your software and your hardware, making it easier for software developers to address many different models of computer parts.

Updating your BIOS
As time goes by, there may be upgrades for you BIOS that enable new features, or increase compatibility with newer parts. If you've recently added some hardware and are having lots of trouble getting your machine to recognize that it is there, a BIOS upgrade may be in order. Be warned, upgrading a BIOS is potentially a dangerous operation, so if you don't fully understand what you're doing, better call someone who does. And if your machine is running fine as it is, a BIOS upgrade is an unneccessary risk.
There's also some software that will scan your BIOS and let you know if an update exists and what it would do if you applied it. You can find that software here:
Til next time, take care of your machine, and it will be there when you need it.

Questions or comments, write me at

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