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OK, so whoís bossÖ? BIOS, CMOS or POST? If we must choose, it would be (Power-on, Self-test), POST. The POST is simply process of BIOS using information from CMOS to start computer. Remember, BIOS information is stored in CMOS memory maintained by an onboard battery.
Three ways to change and/or update BIOS. Unlike ROM (read-only memory) EPROM BIOS can be changed or updated. The term for changing EPROM software is referred to as flashing. You may have over heard someone say that they need to flash BIOS with a new update. Donít worry if you have never heard this, well, maybe you should worry a little. Computer components change on a daily basis and BIOS needs to be flexible enough to be able to change with them. All computers allow user to change BIOS software and how computer reacts to input/output devices. The standard is to offer user a way in to software via a hotkey at startup. Normally this hotkey is F2 key, Del (Delete) key and in some cases F1 key or a combination of keys. Start your computer and watch bottom left corner on screen. This should let you know which key to press to enter BIOS setup. The BIOS setup, sometimes called CMOS setup, allow user to make changes on fly and save them. Letís say you added an external modem to your PC on Communication serial port number 1(Comm1), and no matter how many times you install drivers, you canít get PC or Windows to recognize it. Chances are that BIOS does not know that modem exists. Entering BIOS setup and changing it to allow use of Comm1 will fix problem and let PC know that a device exists on that port. This is most common use of BIOS setup and also easiest to do. WARNING: it is just as easy to totally screw up your system by making changes in BIOS setup. So be careful and make sure you know how and what to change. Changing wrong settings can render your computer useless. There, we warned you twice, thatís because we want you to think twice before you change BIOS. Second is Flash BIOS update from manufacturer of BIOS. This is a software program that manufacturer of BIOS sends out periodically to insure BIOS conform to new equipment and standards. You can normally get this software upgrade for manufacturer and sometimes from motherboard manufacturer. Be carefulÖbe very careful installing software and be positive that it is for your specific BIOS. Always follow manufacturers instructions exactly. The third way is replacing BIOS chip. Replacing chip may be your only recourse and should be left to professional computer repairmen.
How do I know which BIOS I have? That also easy, computer will actually tell you. If youíre fast enough, you will see BIOS name and version on screen moment you turn it on. If you are not a speed-reader you can access BIOS setup and retrieve information from setup program. You may also contact motherboard manufacturer and find which BIOS was installed on that board.
As stated earlier, beeps mean something. They can give you information on problems that BIOS encounters. Contact your BIOS manufacturer to find out what each beep series means. Armed with this information you may be able to figure out why your PC has stopped working and avoid scratching your head and noticing this huge question mark hovering over your PC. www.mpl1.com
Michael is a Network Systems Administrator and Web Master. You can find additional articles and computer support at www.mpl1.com.