BIOS is a set of computer instructions in firmware which control input and output operations.
BIOS, which stands for Basic Input Output System, is software stored on a small memory chip on the motherboard. You might need to access BIOS to change how the device works or to assist in troubleshooting a problem.
BIOS is an integral part of your computer and comes with it when you bring it home. (In contrast, the operating system can either be pre-installed by the manufacturer or vendor or installed by the user.) It is a program that is made accessible to the microprocessor on an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) chip. When you turn on your computer, the microprocessor passes control to the BIOS program, which is always located at the same place on EPROM.
The four main functions of a PC BIOS
- POST – Test the computer hardware and make sure no errors exist before loading the operating system. Additional information on the POST can be found on our POST and Beep Codes page.
- Bootstrap Loader – Locate the operating system. If a capable operating system is located, the BIOS will pass control to it.
- BIOS drivers – Low-level drivers that give the computer basic operational control over your computer’s hardware.
- BIOS or CMOS Setup – Configuration program that allows you to configure hardware settings including system settings such as computer passwords, time, and date.
What Is the BIOS Used For?
BIOS instructs the computer on how to perform a number of basic functions such as booting and keyboard control.
Batteries on the Motherboards
The motherboard’s battery is used for low-level system functions like powering the real-time clock and storing a computer’s BIOS settings. On newer computers, the battery may only be used for the clock.
Whether you’re using a desktop computer or a laptop, your computers motherboard contains an integrated battery. Unlike a standard laptop battery, the motherboard’s battery doesn’t power your computer while you’re using it. Quite the opposite, actually – the battery is tiny and only active when you’re not actually using your computer.
When I should change CMOS Battery
A computer may sometimes show error messages related to time and date options, or other errors, like “No operating system or new CPU is installed.” These are indications that it is time to change the battery of the motherboard, or the CMOS.
Ideally, this battery is due for a replacement once every five years and must be replaced with great care to avoid causing other problems in the PC. Saving BIOS data prior to the battery change and configuration is strongly recommended.
Why and How to Clear CMOS
Clearing the CMOS on your motherboard will reset your BIOS settings to their factory defaults, the settings that the motherboard maker decided were the ones that most people would use.
One reason to clear CMOS is to help troubleshoot or solve certain computer problems or hardware compatibility issues. Many times, a simple BIOS reset is all you need to get a seemingly dead PC back up and running.
You might also want to clear CMOS to reset a BIOS or system-level password, or if you’ve been making changes to BIOS that you suspect have now caused some kind of problem.
How to Check Your Current BIOS Version in Windows
Your computer’s BIOS version is displayed in the BIOS setup menu itself, but you don’t have to reboot to check this version number. There are several ways to see your BIOS version from within Windows, and they work the same on PCs with a traditional BIOS or a newer UEFI firmware.
Check Your BIOS Version at the Command Prompt
To check your BIOS version from the Command Prompt, hit Start, type “cmd” in the search box, and then click the “Command Prompt” result—no need to run it as an administrator.
At the prompt which will appear on
, type (or copy and paste) the following command, and then hit Enter:
wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion
You’ll see the version number of the BIOS or UEFI firmware in your current PC.
Check Your BIOS Version by Using the System Information Panel
How to Open the System Information Panel on Windows 10 or 8
You can also find your BIOS’s version number in the System Information window. On Windows 7, 8, or 10, hit Windows+R, type “msinfo32” into the Run box, and then hit Enter.
The BIOS version number is displayed on the System Summary pane. Look at the “BIOS Version/Date” field.
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