Upgrading the BIOS in your computer doesn’t have to be complicated, but there are some best practices for making the process work smoothly. In this video, you’ll learn about these best practices and I’ll demonstrate a BIOS upgrade on my computer.
When you’re performing an upgrade to the BIOS of your computer, you’re updating the firmware. This is the software that starts up the system so that you can eventually get an operating system running. On older computers, we would upgrade this firmware by removing a RAM chip from the motherboard and replacing it with a newer chip. These days our computers have flash memory. So when we need to upgrade our BIOS, we can do it all through software.
You’ll see BIOS upgrades available for your computer, for your video adapter, for your gaming console, and for other devices as well. These upgrades are commonly designed to fix bugs, but occasionally they can also provide performance improvements. Upgrading the BIOS is not something you do on a regular basis or during a normal maintenance cycle. You’re usually only upgrading the BIOS if there happens to be a good reason to do so. If you happen to have problems during this upgrade process, the entire system could become unusable. So you want to be very careful when you’re performing any type of BIOS upgrade.
To see what your current BIOS version happens to be, you may want to look as your system is booting up. It will occasionally have the BIOS version listed on that splash screen. This occasionally goes by so fast, it may be difficult to see exactly what version might be listed. If you’re running Windows, you may want to look inside of the System Information utility, which you can start by typing in msinfo32 at your Windows run box. This will provide you with version and date details about the BIOS that’s running on your computer. You would then compare that to what is available on the manufacturer’s website for your motherboard and see if an upgrade happens to be available.
You might also want to see if the manufacturer has a download of the current BIOS version that you’re running. There may be some cases where you’re able to downgrade back to this existing version if you happen to run into problems after the upgrade has been installed. Here’s a better view of the System Information utility which shows, in the System Summary, an option for BIOS version slash date. You can see the American Megatrends 2.10, and the date on this BIOS is July 30th of 2015.
Before you perform any BIOS upgrade, make sure you read the release notes for this BIOS version. You want to see what the changes are inside of this update. There may be new features available in the firmware. And you want to make sure that you’ve covered any prerequisites for your operating system so that the upgrade goes as smoothly as possible.
You don’t want to have any power problems with your system as you’re halfway through this upgrade process, so make sure that you have a reliable power source. If you have a laptop, make sure that your battery is fully charged and that you’re connected to AC power. If you’re running from a desktop computer, you may want to plug into a UPS or have one available temporarily during the upgrade process.
On older computers, we use a boot floppy or a boot optical drive to perform these BIOS upgrades. But these days, BIOS upgrades are done with an executable from the Windows desktop. Some other boards might also give you an option to run the upgrade from a flash drive when you boot the computer. Most of the time when you run this application from the Windows desktop, it will check for any prerequisites. If you’re on a laptop, make sure that you’re plugged in, and it will check your operating system to be sure that you have everything installed that needs to be there. After you’re done with the upgrade, it requires that you reboot the system. So you want to be sure to save any documents and make sure nothing else is running during this upgrade process.
Here’s the upgrade application on this Dell computer. I’m going to run this. Windows asks if it’s OK to run this upgrade program. And the upgrade program will tell me to please don’t reboot or shut down during the BIOS update. The upgrade program then says that I’m running version A10. The new version is A12. And if I want to perform the upgrade, I simply click OK.
At this point, the newer version of the BIOS is being written to the system. And now you just sit back and wait for the process to finish. Once the update is done, it tells us that the update is successful. It will take effect after reboot. And you click the button to reboot now.
When the system restarts, we can see the BIOS version is in the splash screen. And if we press F2 for the BIOS configuration, we can see the version is listed on the main screen. Modern motherboards may give you many options for providing a BIOS update, so you need to check the manufacturer’s documentation to know exactly what options are available for you. For example, your motherboard may have two separate BIOS software versions available, a main version and a backup version. And you’re able to switch between them with a button that’s on the back of your motherboard.
This makes it very easy to perform a BIOS upgrade to one of these BIOS systems without worrying that you’re going to corrupt or create any problems with the other version of software that’s on your system. Some motherboards provide BIOS upgrades directly from a USB flash drive. You don’t even need to power on the system. You simply plug in the flash drive, push a button on the back of the computer, and it performs the BIOS upgrade from there.