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How to update your BIOS in ten steps

Improve hardware compatibility and performance

Step 4: Preparing a bootable medium

As was mentioned in step 3, if your BIOS supports an integrated flash update routine or if you prefer to update your BIOS while in Windows, just skip this passage and continue with step 5. Otherwise, you will need to prepare a bootable medium onto which the BIN-file and flash program can be saved.

BIOS-Update with a floppy disk

With the help of a DOS interface, a bootable floppy disk can be created as easily by entering „format a: /s“ into the command prompt. In Windows, this is  arguably slightly more complicated. Insert a floppy disk into your drive and right-click the corresponding drive symbol inside the Windows Explorer (usually A:). Choose „Format“ followed by „Create MS-DOS boot disk“. Delete all files except „Command.com“, „Io.sys“ and „Msdos.sys“ from the disk, even those that are invisible. To do so, enter the control panel and click on „Folder Options“. Under the tab „View“, activate the entry „Show hidden files, folders and drives“ while deactivating „Hide protected operating system files“. After your disk has been neatly tidied up, proceed with copying all necessary update files onto it as described in step 3.

See also: How to access floppy disks and other obsolete media

BIOS-Update with a USB-Stick

To make a USB drive bootable, you will need to transform it into the FAT16 format and set the boot sector to 0x80. Unfortunately, Windows is unable to do that on its own, so you will need to download a specialised tool, such as the nifty freeware PeToUSB. Once installed, fire it up, select your respective USB-drive and activate „Enable Disk Format“ and „Enable LBA (FAT 16X). After clicking on start, waiting for the tool to finish, your USB drive will be formatted and bootable. Proceed with copying the BIOS files as described in Step 3.

Step 5: Backing up your hard drive

If worse comes to worst, it's good to have a spare copy of all important files from your PC. Though a failed BIOS update doesn't endanger the data on your hard drive directly, your PC will likely be down for the count for a couple of days or weeks. By creating a backup of your files, you will be able to continue working with them on another PC or Laptop without delay.

Step 6: Backing up your BIOS

Similarly, creating a backup of your BIOS might be an even better idea. If your BIOS supports the a Live Update function for Windows, a backup is typically fairly easy. Just check your updating utility for a dedicated function (see step 8) and follow our instruction in step 10 if you wish to restore your previous BIOS version. If you were planning on updating your BIOS through DOS or an integrated function in the BIOS itself, backups are somewhat more difficult. Look for an corresponding option as you perform the update itself (see step 8). If such an option is not present, you might have to resort to a hardware toolkit to make a backup – such as the IOSS RD1 BIOS Saviour. Take care though: Using such a toolkit requires tinkering with the mainboard and it also only supports a socketed chip architecture.

Step 7: Last preparations in the BIOS

Before continuing with the actual updating process, we recommend taking a last look into the BIOS to make sure everything is set to go. To enter the BIOS menu, restart your PC and press the DEL or F2 key in the first moments of the booting process (usually right after your BIOS manufacturer, CPU name or memory information is displayed) to bring up the BIOS interface.

Remove flash protection

Some mainboards are equipped with a flash-protection mechanism to prevent accidental tampering with the BIOS. To continue with the installation, this will need to be disabled. Look for entries called "Flash BIOS Protection", "Firmware Write Protect", "BIOS Guardian" or "BIOS-ROM Flash-Protect" and deactivate them. In rare cases, this kind of protection might also be installed in the form of Jumper on your mainboard. It's best to take a look into your user manual to find out where to search for it.

Reset your configuration

If you have modified your BIOS to such an extent that the number of changes rival your memory capacity, it might be a good idea to take notes of your configuration. After you have done so, you should reset your BIOS back to the factory default settings before continuing with the update (look for a "Load Defaults" option) and save them.

Check the boot order (boot sequence)

Under normal circumstances, your PC will simply boot off your hard drive to load Windows. If you plan on using an USB stick or a floppy disk to perform the update, you will need to change the boot sequence to avoid that. In most BIOS menus, you can find the appropriate option under "Advanced BIOS features" or "Boot, Boot Device Priority". Change the order of all possible devices so that your USB drive (often represented as "USB-HDD") or floppy drive comes out on top of the hard drive, ideally as the primary boot medium. After all your preparations in the BIOS are done, save and exit. See also: How to make a Windows 8 PC boot faster

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