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Basics Of Updating Your BIOS Or Other Hardware's Firmware

Discussion in 'Other' started by Major Attitude, Jan 8, 2004.

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  1. Major Attitude

    Major Attitude Co-Owner MajorGeeks.Com Staff Member

    Often times, new BIOS updates or firmware are released for your hardware. In a nutshell, this is a piece of software that can fix bugs or even improve your hardware. There is a risk of damage, though I feel it is less so with motherboards, which can easily be rest to factory defaults if a problem occurs.

    Most important thing about BIOS updates: The basic rule of thumb is if you do not need a BIOS update, don't do it. Stick to that rule until you are confident in your ability to upgrade and recover from a failure. Any BIOS or firmware release will have a list (on download page or in a readme.txt) that lists what is fixed or added. Read it to see if it affects you. If a problem is listed that affects you, then a BIOS or firmware update may be worth it. If it addresses issues that you do not have, then a BIOS update is a waste of time. Upgrading motherboards and hardware varies from hardware to hardware, so this is more of a primer and general knowledge tutorial then anything else.

    When updating hardware, like a CDROM, it usually comes with software that does it all for you. I wish I could explain it better, but with tens of thousands of computer parts out there, I cant. Typically, it’s a simple as download, run, reboot. As for motherboards, the newer ones let you upgrade your BIOS through Windows, though older motherboards might require booting to DOS and downloading both a program and the BIOS update file itself and running it from a floppy disk. Check your motherboards website for what to download and instructions. Be very sure to follow instructions, especially the part about not touching or powering off the computer during an upgrade.

    In the case of a motherboard BIOS, you can usually recover the default BIOS one of two ways. One is to remove the battery for a while. The other is to check your motherboard manual for CMOS reset instructions. This is always very easy and is usually as simple as moving a jumper from pins 1 and 2 to pins 2 and 3 and back again. Motherboard BIOS upgrades overall are less risky because they can be recovered easily, while other hardware may be more complicated or even need to be sent back to the manufacturer. Sometimes it’s as easy as retrying or retrying with an older firmware version. When completed, your motherboard may beep at you on reboot saying settings changed. You should be able to simply hit the key for continue, as indicated on your screen and everything should be fine. In the case of a major upgrade, some minor BIOS settings may need to be modified. Rarely have I seen where it was required, especially on new computers.

    As you can see, this is not all that complicated. It is however, a bit scary, and often times not required at all. As always, if you must do this, back up your computer ahead of time in case there’s a problem. Often times, BIOS programs offer to backup the original BIOS for you.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2008
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