Your computer’s basic input/output system—or BIOS—lives in a small chip on your motherboard, and manages the most basic instructions that allow your computer to boot into an operating system.
From time to time, your PC’s manufacturer may offer updates to the BIOS with certain improvements. Here’s how to install them.
In general, you shouldn’t need to update your BIOS that often. Installing (or “flashing”) a new BIOS is more dangerous than updating a simple Windows program, and if something goes wrong during the process, you could end up bricking your computer. I don’t mean to be all doom-and-gloom about it. I’ve never had a problem updating my BIOS, and I’ve done it plenty of times, but it’s important to be careful.
Since BIOS updates don’t usually introduce new features or huge speed boosts, you probably won’t see a huge benefit anyway, unless the latest BIOS comes with security patches, support for new hardware you plan to use, or fixes a bug that’s been plaguing your daily usage, you’re best off leaving it alone. If you fall into one of those categories and need to update your BIOS, though, here’s how to do it.
Note that navigating this interface can vary a bit from computer to computer, especially if you have a newer machine running a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, or UEFI (which, despite being more capable than its older sibling, is still often referred to as BIOS). So while we can’t tell you exactly what to click on, the following instructions should get you in the right ballpark nonetheless.
Head to the website for your PC’s manufacturer—like Dell, HP, or Lenovo—and find the Support page. (If you built your own PC, you’ll want to search for the motherboard manufacturer, like Asus, Gigabyte, or MSI.) Then, find the support page for your specific PC by searching for the model number or serial number, which you can often find somewhere on the device.
Once you’ve found the Support page, there should be a section for downloads or drivers. Head there and search for BIOS or UEFI updates. Download the latest one and check the instructions it came with. You’ll generally have to go through one of two processes.
Format a Flash Drive
On many PCs (especially older ones), you’ll need to format a flash drive, copy the new BIOS file to it, and reboot your computer, pressing a key to enter the BIOS setup (usually Delete, F2, or some other key you’ll see on-screen at boot).
Once inside the BIOS, make note of any settings you’ve changed in the past, since an update will usually revert your system to the default settings. Take photos of each category if you need to!
Then, look for the option to update your firmware, and you’ll be able to run the update utility using the file on your flash drive. Again, be very careful not to interrupt the process or turn off your PC during this time, or you could render your PC unusable.
Update From an EXE File
Some machines, like the Acer laptop shown above, make this process a bit simpler by presenting the update in the form of an EXE file. Instead of rebooting your machine, you can just double-click the update program, and it’ll run through the reboot-and-update process for you. You still may want to enter the BIOS setup before running the update to make note of any settings you want to keep, though.
Once the process completes successfully and you’ve made any settings tweaks, you can continue using your computer as normal, with whatever improvements or fixes that BIOS update offered.