Tuesday, 12 June 2012

How to Flash/Update Your BIOS

Flashing and updating your computer's BIOS chip was a daunting task back in the old days. Although that still holds true today for many, the task has been relatively simplified. In fact if you are lucky, updating your BIOS is no harder than installing a regular program which I'll prove here.

Updating the BIOS

1. One of the first thing we are going to do is checking out what our current BIOS version is. To do so, we simply open up a Run dialog box and type in 'msinfo32'. The System Information window should appear. In System Summary, locate the BIOS Version/Date entry and write it down on a piece of paper.

2. Next, it's time to find and download, if any, our new BIOS firmware. Before we can do that though, we need to figure out what is our computer system or motherboard model is. If your computer was store bought and is from a big name PC manufacturer such as HP, Sony, Dell etc, than you'll most likely find your computer model in the front or on top of the computer case. In my example, I have a Lenovo R61 laptop. Once you find the information, write it down.
If you have a custom built computer, then you'll have to find out what motherboard your currently have installed. To do so, simply download the free CPU-Z utility Select the .ZIP option if you don't want to deal with any installation. Simply extract the tool and run it. Click on the Mainboard tab. Your motherboard manufacturer and model should then be listed. Write it down on a piece of paper. If you look down a bit, CPU-Z also shows you your current BIOS version and date similar to what was shown in System Information. 
Once you got the information down, we can then proceed to the next step. If your PC is from one of the big PC manufacturer (as in my case with Lenovo), head to their support website. Simply enter the PC manufacturer's name along with the word 'support' in Google search for the fastest result (example: Lenovo Support). For users with custom motherboards, do the same (example: Gigabyte Support).

Once you are on their support webpage, it's now time to drill down to your specific computer or motherboard model. You'll most likely get to work with drop down menu's to select the product you are looking for or you could be asked to directly type in your product's model number. Either way, keep going until you arrive at the download page for your PC or motherboard model. You'll also likely be asked what operating system you are using as well so make sure you fill in the correct answer!

3. Once you reach the download page, select what it is you want to download. In our scenario, we only care about BIOS updates so that's what we'll select here. Once done so, you should then be able to see a list of the BIOS related downloads.

This is where things can get a little tricky if you are not familiar with BIOS updating in general. There are in fact many different ways to reflash your BIOS. For example, via a CD, floppy disk, removable device (USB) or if are fortunate enough like me, a executable file. As you can see in the above picture, I have two options. I can either download the BIOS firmware as an .iso file to burn onto a blank CD or I can use the BIOS Update Utility, which is a executable file. In my example, I will chose the latter option because it is the less hassle.

4. Before downloading the actual BIOS firmware, you'll want to go over some important pre-caution advice. Like I've mentioned earlier, look for the summary (or full list) of changes this new BIOS firmware will provide. Hopefully, the description will be meaningful to you and not just technical jargon.

Next, you'll definitely want to go over the instructions. Although it couldn't get any easier with a executable file, you don't want to risk anything and end up with a crashed system. If you are using another method than what I'm doing, than it is worth mentioning again that you need to read the instructions carefully! Make sure you understand every step of the process before beginning.

Once you have done both steps, then proceed with the download of the BIOS firmware. Make sure you are downloading the correct version! Although the flash procedure might stop due to a wrong BIOS version, you don't want to take any risk whatsoever. Therefore, you must be 100% sure that the BIOS version you are about to download applies to the system or motherboard you own.

5. Once you got the firmware downloaded, it is finally time to flash our BIOS. In my case, I downloaded the executable file so I'm going to open that first to extract the files as mentioned in the instructions.

Next, I'll begin the actual BIOS flash by opening up the executable specified in the instructions manual once again.

Fortunately for me, all I have to do next is click Next and the process will kick off. Once the process has finished, it will prompt me to reboot the system. It is now the time to pray that nothing went wrong and your system will be bootable yet again.

You'll most likely notice nothing new happening with your computer once the BIOS has been flashed, especially if the BIOS changes doesn't apply to you but it's still nice to know that you have the newest version of the firmware installed.


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