Your computer’s BIOS or Basic input/output system is a hard-wired computer program that allows your operating system to communicate with hardware attached to your computer. It is also the part of the computer that boots up and prepares the PC before the operating system takes over.
In other words, it detects all attached devices, checks if they are working properly, and tells you if something is wrong before your chosen operating system loads.
Your BIOS is written to a read-only flash memory chip that is not affected by power cuts or any problems with your operating system. That doesn’t mean the BIOS itself can’t be updated. Through a process known as “flashing,” your BIOS can be updated with new versions released by your motherboard manufacturer.
But Candlestick Did you update your BIOS? How is it even done?
When should you update your BIOS?
Updating BIOS is no small thing. If it crashes for some reason, you most likely end up with a motherboard that won’t turn on, in which case you have to buy a new one or send it in to have the BIOS chip replaced. However, some modern motherboards have a “dual” BIOS, where a second backup chip can be used to restore the main chip. Consult your motherboard’s documentation if you want to know if your motherboard has this feature.
If your computer is working fine and you have no problems with it, then you can stop worrying about updating your BIOS. That is, unless the new BIOS version adds the specific features you want.
You should also update your BIOS if there are serious security flaws that need patching or you intend to upgrade to a new version. CPU. CPUs released after your BIOS was created may not work unless you are running the latest BIOS version. Motherboard manufacturers usually have a CPU support list for each motherboard, which also shows the BIOS version required for that CPU.
If there are no desirable features, major bugs, or hardware upgrades on the card, then you’re better off leaving your BIOS alone.
BIOS vs UEFI
While it is common practice to still use the term “BIOS”, most modern computers have something called UEFI or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. This is the preferred modern version of the BIOS.
UEFI comes with a long list of improved features over the old BIOS, but for our purposes, there’s no real difference here. Updating your BIOS/UEFI works almost identically.
What you need to update your BIOS
There are two main ways to update your BIOS. One is from within the BIOS’s own interface, before your operating system has even booted. The other is from within your operating system, using the BIOS flash utility provided by the motherboard manufacturer.
We strongly recommend using an operating system-based utility if that option is open to you. There are several reasons for this, the most important of which is that if something goes wrong with the BIOS reflash, you can still fix the problem while the computer hasn’t restarted.
In other words, re-flash the old BIOS or try flashing the new BIOS again. It also helps that most of the good motherboard manufacturers have basically automatic update utilities, making your life easy.
If you need to update the BIOS from the BIOS menu itself, usually because no operating system is installed, you’ll also need a USB drive with a copy of the new firmware on it. You will have to format the drive to FAT32 and use another computer to download the file and copy it to the drive. We’ll walk you through the specific process in a bit more depth.
Is the update available?
There are two ways to easily check for BIOS updates. If your motherboard manufacturer has an update utility, you usually just need to run it. Some will check if an update is available, others will just tell you the current firmware version of your current BIOS.
In that case, you can visit the support and download page for your motherboard model and see if a newer firmware update file is available than the one you have installed currently.
You can also use a widget like CPUZ to check your current BIOS version or last resort is to boot into the BIOS menu and check the version number there.
Update with a widget
The computer we are working on here has a Gigabyte motherboard, so we have to download the Gigabyte update utility, called @BIOS. Motherboard brand and model may vary. So look for an equivalent utility for your particular board.
After downloading the utility, all we have to do is run it. It detects the current BIOS version and checks for updates. If it finds one, it will ask us to initiate an update. You can also manually flash the firmware file you downloaded using this utility.
This is useful in case you need to roll back to an older BIOS version because of compatibility issues, new bugs, or performance degradation.
Update using BIOS/UEFI
Assuming that you have downloaded the new firmware file and copied it to the flash drive, restart your computer and then press the key to boot into the BIOS. This is usually the Del or F12 key, but check your motherboard manual for the exact method. Your BIOS will probably look something like this.
Each BIOS looks different, but it should be an option that refers to updating or installing the BIOS. If you choose the option, it will allow you to select the firmware file from the USB drive. After making all the appropriate validations, the flashing will complete.
In the case of our Gigabyte boards, this utility is called “Q-flash”.
Unfortunately, the UEFI screenshot function does not work when Q-flash is launched, but the utility simply asks you for the location of the updated firmware file and then flashes the BIOS. Homely!
200% guarantee that the firmware you download is actually for your motherboard. Some motherboard models have multiple hardware revisions. So it’s important to match the update to your exact table. It is very important that the flashing process is not interrupted in any way. Whether due to a power cut or you press the reset button.
We’ve never had boards bricked or flash failed, but they do happen and it can be a real pain to fix. So follow the motherboard manufacturer’s instructions and make sure you understand the process before trying. The good news is that, one way or another, the flash will end after a few seconds.