How do you make configuration changes to your BIOS? In this video, I’ll demonstrate some common BIOS configuration options that you can try on your own computer.
It would be a good idea to become familiar with the BIOS configuration of your computer. You may need to be able to get into the system to make changes or to run diagnostics or just to see what’s inside of that device so that you can become familiar with using your BIOS.
To do this, you’re going to need to know the secret button. This is the button or the series of keys that you press when your system is starting up and booting. That way, you can interrupt the boot process and start the BIOS configuration screen. This button may be a simple one-key press like the Delete key or to press F2 when it’s starting up or it may be a combination of keys. You may have to hold down Control, Alt, S just to start up the BIOS configuration settings.
You may want to consider using virtualization software so that you can make changes to a fake BIOS that’s inside a virtual machine somewhere and set up the BIOS that’s running your actual machine’s operating system. You can even go into Windows 7 using Microsoft Virtual PC. Or in Windows 8, you could use Hyper-V. Those are both free virtualization software that you can get from Microsoft. And I’ve included some links here so that you can go to Microsoft’s site and download those or learn how to use those on your particular operating system.
VMware makes a virtualization software called VMware Workstation player if you’re running Windows, and you can find this under VMware.com/products/player. And you can even see, if you look very closely, there is a free version that you can use for personal use that’s hidden on the page. You’ll have to really look around to find it.
There’s another popular piece of virtualization software called Virtualbox. This is made by Oracle. Virtualbox does not include any type of BIOS configuration settings. So if you’re running in Windows, you’ll want to use Virtual PC, Hyper-V, or VMware Workstation Player only.
Once you start up the BIOS configuration, you can learn a lot about what’s inside of your computer, and you can make a number of configuration changes. You can see the type of memory and how much memory you’re running inside of your computer. You can see what storage devices are connected to your motherboard, if they’re a hard drive or an SSD. You can even enable and disable those storage devices as well. You can see if there’s an optical drive inside of your system and make configuration changes to that as well. And your BIOS is going to be able to tell you what CPU is inside of your computer and allow you to make a number of configuration changes associated with the operation of that CPU.
There’s a machine I use in my studio for utilities that I’m going to turn on now and see if we can run through the BIOS. It’s going to start up the splash screen of the BIOS, and I’m going to press the F2 key, which is that secret key that gets me into the BIOS settings. And it brings up on this particular computer a UE 5 BIOS. You can see it’s very graphical, I have mouse support so I can move a mouse around the screen or use the keyboard, and there are other things that I can do in the UE 5 BIOS that I’m not able to do in a Legacy BIOS.
The layout of this BIOS on the screen, though, is very similar to a Legacy BIOS. So if you were using virtual machines or running some VMware or Hyper-V, you’d still be able to see similar things in the Legacy BIOS as well.
The first screen is the main screen. So it tells me about this particular computer. I’ve got a date and time information. I have the amount of memory inside of my computer. It even tells me a lot of information about my CPU. It’s an Intel Core i5-4440, running at 3.10 gigahertz. There’s also other settings across the top. So I can choose Advanced Settings and change how my BIOS is configured. I can even change settings on how it starts up and how the boot process begins or change the way the system is managed.
There are also security settings inside of this BIOS so that if I wanted to add a password to require every time the system boots up I have to put in a password or the operating system will never load. Or I could put in a supervisor password so that nobody can change any settings of this BIOS unless they have the supervisor password for this computer.
I can also change boot settings. So if I wanted to change what devices boot first, which ones been second, I can change what devices are enabled and how they boot all from these boot configuration settings. So you can see there are a lot of different options inside your BIOS. And if you begin to drill down on these options, you may see things that you don’t recognize. So it’s very important to make sure that you always know exactly what you’re changing inside of these BIOS settings.
Many motherboard manufacturers will also put hardware diagnostics in the BIOS itself. This is just part of the BIOS. It’s always available. You don’t have to download any additional software. You don’t need to load up any new applications. You simply start your BIOS, and there’s an option inside the BIOS to run hardware diagnostics. This is really useful if you want to understand how the hardware of your system is performing. Is the memory working the way we would expect? Is the CPU responding properly?
And we could run all of those hardware diagnostics directly from the BIOS. This is not go into your operating system settings. So it wouldn’t be able to run any Windows-specific settings, but it is able to give you a very comprehensive test of the hardware on your motherboard.
As you can see, there are a lot of settings inside of your BIOS. So if you’re making any changes at all, even changes that seem innocuous but you want to be sure to have a way to back out of these changes, make a backup, take some notes, or grab your mobile device, take some pictures of the screen so that if you do need to go back to the original config, you’ve got a picture that you can refer to.
You don’t want to make any changes inside this BIOS unless you really understand exactly what could be happening. And in very often, we might make a change that we think is going to perform a particular way, and it doesn’t. So it’s very useful to have that backup so that we can revert back to the original configuration and put everything exactly the way that it was.