Configuring your BIOS Settings – CompTIA A+ 220-801: 1.1

Your computer’s BIOS contains many different configuration options. In this video, you’ll learn how to make configuration changes to your BIOS without risking the operation of your computer.

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Making changes to your BIOS is a pretty simple process. When you start up your computer, you will be prompted with a key to press to start the setup of your system. Usually it’s the Delete key or the F2 key or a combination of different keystrokes that will launch the BIOS.

If you’d like to work with the BIOS setup and understand more about it, but you don’t want to make any changes to your computer, you might want to consider using a virtual machine configuration, something like Microsoft Virtual PC or perhaps a VMware player. Or any of the other virtual systems available from VMware allows you to go in and start up and use a BIOS that’s in a virtual environment.

You could make any change you’d like to that BIOS, make any type of setting updates to that, and it’s not going to affect your primary workstation. If you are a virtual machine user of the software Virtual Box, unfortunately there is not a BIOS configuration available in Virtual Box. You’ll need to run the Microsoft Virtual Machine or the VMware based virtual machines to be able to use these BIOS functions.

When you start up your computer, you should see information on the screen that might have a splash information of what manufacturer’s machine it is. There might be information about the BIOS that’s running, perhaps some memory information and other information about the hardware of your computer.

And down at the bottom on my particular system, it says press F2 to enter Setup. That’s going to be our BIOS configuration on this computer. There’s also some settings here for pressing F12 if I wanted to boot from a network device. There’s also a nice function here, Escape for Boot Menu. That way you can press Escape and choose which device you would like to boot from.

Well, in our case, we would like to start the BIOS configuration. So I’m going to press F2 to enter Setup. And when I do that, this is the screen that appears. This happens to be the Phoenix BIOS, but when you start working with other BIOS there may be other types of screens you’re working with. But the information that’s in here will be very similar from machine to machine. So you’ll find once you’re familiar with one type of BIOS system for a particular computer, you can easily go to any other manufacturer, and you’ll be able to find your way around.

On this BIOS, there are a number of things at the very top of the screen. You can see there is a Main option, Advanced, Security Boot, and Exit. The Main option gives us a number of different settings. And if I want to see the others, it even tells us at the bottom of the screen that we can use the arrow keys to move back and forth. So if I move to the right with my right arrow key, I see the advanced settings. If I move to the right again, I see the security settings. If I move to the right again, there’s my boot configuration.

I’m going to move back to the left, and let’s look through some of these options that are available in the main settings. Almost always, you’ll see a system date and time available. If you’ve booted up your computer and the time is completely wrong, you may need to go into this configuration part of the BIOS and make changes to that. You’ll also see information and the bias about the hardware of your computer. You can see what legacy floppy disks might be here, information about the hard drives that are in the system, and maybe even the keyboard features that are in here.

From here, you’re able to enable or disable the hardware completely. If you wanted to go to the top and get rid of this floppy disk, I can hit Enter. And then I can mouse up to where it says disabled, and now I’ve just disabled the floppy disk. This is a very easy way to make sure that nobody can come up to my machine and use the floppy disk without me knowing about it. Because I’ve disabled that floppy disk in the basic input-output system for this computer.

If we move to the right, we can look at the advanced settings. And you can see that I could view information about memory that’s inside of this, the device configuration of other input-output systems. And I can also look at some advanced chipset controls, even being able to configure different settings for memory and different settings for timings. Occasionally, if you are running a system and you would like to overclock it a bit, there are settings inside the BIOS that allow you change the way the system accesses the memory and accesses the CPU.

Most BIOS configurations will also have this security section. And the security section generally is there to allow you to set passwords for the computer. You can set a user password. The user password is there so that when the system starts up, it will prompt the user for password before any operating system is ever loaded. There’s also a supervisor password. The supervisor password is here so that you can protect the BIOS configuration, so that nobody can get into the BIOS and make changes to anything that might be inside.

Some security sections of the bias may even have advanced functionality. You may be able to set up drive encryption– encrypt all of the data on your drives of your system right here in the BIOS. Some BIOS, especially on portable devices, also have built in GPS or other ways that they can identify where they happen to be. Kind of a portable LoJack type system, so if a system is lost or stolen, you may still be able to find that system using that location management functionality that’s built right into the BIOS.

Some BIOS versions even have the ability to monitor hardware as part of the BIOS itself. So you could start up your system and look at the configuration and settings for your CPU and then see exactly the temperature of the CPU or the motherboard that’s on your system. You can also get things like fan speed and voltage information. The type of information that you will get will depend on the model of your motherboard and the type of sensors that are there. But this is a way to get immediate feedback on how the system hardware is performing without having to start up an operating system.

You may not find yourself making a lot of changes to a BIOS, but you can see that the process is relatively straightforward. As long as you understand the fundamentals of one particular BIOS version, you should be able to go to any other computer system make changes to its operation.