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2,862 Tutorials

How to update your BIOS in ten steps

Improve hardware compatibility and performance

Step 8: Performing the BIOS update

In Windows

To begin with the update proper, start up the Live Update utility of your respective manufacturer – in our case Asus Update. As mentioned in step 6, you often get the option of doing a backup of your BIOS beforehand. Look for an entry along the lines of "Save current BIOS data" and select a folder of your choice to store it in. If something happens to go awry during the updating process, refer to step 10 for instructions on how to use it.

To download the update, you will now need to look for an option that has a similar name to "Update BIOS from the Internet" and click on it. If the default server does not respond, you can usually find an "Auto Select" option nearby to switch to another one. In the unlikely event that a newer version of your updating software is available, you will likely be required to download it first, so don't worry about that. After finding a newer version of your BIOS software, download it and click on "Update BIOS from a file" to select it for the process. Depending on your updating utility, you might arrive at a final page that compares the information of your old BIOS  version with the new one – this is your last chance to check of everything is in order. If you are absolutely positive to start to process, click on "Update" or "Flash".  After the process is done, reboot your PC for the changes to take effect.

In DOS

It's finally time to use that USB stick or floppy disk that has been prepared in step 3 and 4. Insert it into the USB port or floppy drive and turn your PC on. If you have adjusted your boot sequence accordingly as described in step 7, your PC should load it up automatically, resulting in the display of a DOS prompt. Enter the name of the flash tool – in the case of an Award-BIOS "awdflash" – and press Enter. The flash tool should now give out some information about your BIOS-ID and the age of the build. First, take a look around and evaluate your options at the lower area of the screen. If you can, create a backup of your BIOS before continuing on (usually with the B-key). Otherwise, select the file you wish to update your BIOS with, wait for it to compatibility analysis to finish and confirm the updating process.

In the BIOS

Instead of booting from DOS, enter the BIOS UI instead and search the menu for an option like "EZ Flash 2" (try the tools section). Conveniently, the installation assistant provided is usually quite similar, if not identical to the one in DOS, so just refer to the above section for guidance.

Step 9: The Aftermath - tidying up your BIOS and device manager

Once the flashing tool has successfully finished updating, you can theoretically restart your PC immediately and resume working with the new BIOS. However, we recommend checking some things first.

Delete your CMOS

The CMOS is a battery driven memory chip on your mainboard that is responsible for saving all settings related to the BIOS. Updating the latter can in some cases lead to conflicts, as the new BIOS might save its data in a different register than the old one. To prevent nasty booting errors, it is therefore advisable to clear the CMOS before doing anything else. You can find out how to do so in your mainboard user manual (usually this just requires temporarily switching a jumper).

Also take a look at: PC startup won't proceed further than the BIOS screen

Restoring your custom BIOS settings

If you've taken notes of your previous BIOS settings or know them by heart, remember to pay your new and improved BIOS a visit and configure it accordingly. Make sure to save your changes before exiting again.

Checking the drivers

More often than not, the point of a BIOS update is improved hardware compatibility. Consequently, after applying the update, Windows is usually confronted with a large number of previously unknown devices at once. To check if all drivers have been installed correctly, take a look at your device manager in the control panel. If there are any yellow exclamation marks left, it's best to check for appropriate drivers manually.

Step 10: The update has failed – what now?

In spite of every precaution and safety measure, the update can still fail - whether it be due to unexpected incompatibility issues, an unfortunate blackout or the cat walking on the keyboard. Here's what to do: If still functional, do not turn your PC off under any circumstances. This applies to both DOS and Windows: Close the flash updating tool and restart the updating process anew, but this time with the backup you have created previously. If this doesn't help and the PC still won't restart, try resetting the CMOS (see step 9 and the picture).

In case that doesn't do the trick either and you didn't happen to install a spare chip (see step 6), you may want to try contacting the manufacturer of your mainboard, preferably over a hotline. They will propably either ask you to send the BIOS chip in directly or redirect you to a hardware specialist who can reprogram it back to factory default. Unfortunately, this can cost up to 30-40 pounds depending on the type of mainboard.  

Alternatively, it is also worth checking out whether or not the manufacturer sells its BIOS chips directly over an online shop, which more often than not turns out to be much cheaper. An example for ASUS mainboards can be found here.

This article is based on a segment by our sister publication PC-WELT.

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