For some, the BIOS is a mysterious, scary part of your computer. It beeps and flashes information when your computer boots, but isn’t something you normally have to interact with. If you do have to enter BIOS setup, you’ll be confronted with settings you’ve never seen or heard of before–settings that can cause your system never to boot again. If you have questions about your computer BIOS, hopefully this FAQ will help.

What is the BIOS

The BIOS (Basic Input / Output System) is firmware residing on a chip located on your motherboard. There are several top BIOS manufacturers, such as AMIBIOS, Award, Phoenix, IBM and even Macintosh. The BIOS is responsible for initializing devices, such as your video card, mouse, keyboard and hard disk drives. It eventually hands control over to the hard drive which contains your Operating  System. Without the BIOS, your computer would not know what to do when you pressed the power button.

The BIOS is considered firmware because it is hardware containing software that can be overwritten with new versions as they come out.

How do I get into my BIOS setup

If you look real closely, you should see the correct key to press to enter your BIOS setup. It is one of the first things that is displayed when you boot up the computer. If you do not see that option, you can try tapping the following keys when you first power on the computer: Delete, F10, F1, F2 or ESC.

Why Do I Get The Message Press F1 To Continue

You might be getting this message because your CMOS battery has died or your system is setup to stop loading when there is an error. Go into your BIOS setup and look for the Halt On option. It might be set to ALL Errors. Change it to No Error and press F10 to save and exit.

Can I Replace My BIOS

Not likely. It is soldered onto the motherboard. You can upgrade it via a firmware update provided by your motherboard manufacturer, but if the chip is damaged, it will likely be easier and less expensive to replace the entire motherboard.

Is there a backdoor BIOS password

No. If you have a BIOS password installed on your computer and have forgotten the password, you can probably reset it via a jumper on the motherboard. The BIOS password is different than a Windows password. Contact the motherboard manufacturer or look for your motherboard service manual online for specific instructions on how to reset your BIOS password.

Should I update my BIOS

This is a tricky question. Firmware updates are performed to fix bugs in the BIOS or to introduce new features that have come out since your BIOS was installed on the motherboard. BIOS updates can go wrong and basically ruin your computer. Unless you feel a compelling need to do so, you should not take the risk. If you are comfortable performing the update, then yes, you should. Check you motherboard or computer manufacturer for instructions on how to do this.

My BIOS is Beeping what does it mean

The BIOS has very limited ability to communicate with you, so if there is a problem it will sometimes produce a beep code. Some computer manufacturers will also integrate LEDs on the back of the computer to display the problem (Dell uses yellow or green lights marked A B C and D). But the traditional method a BIOS will communicate with you is through a beep code. The code is specific to the BIOS manufacturer, so you will need to know what BIOS you have in your computer. If you do not know, you can open the case and look for the BIOS chip. The name will be printed on the chip, itself.

Refer to our BIOS beep code chart to look up your code.

Tip: If you were recently inside of the case, you might have nudged a memory or video card by mistake. Or if you have recently installed RAM, the BIOS may be beeping because the new memory is bad or incompatible with the computer.

In conclusion, the BIOS is an integral part of your computer. It can be used to specify how your computer boots and even prevent hardware from showing up in Windows. Because it can disable your hardware, you shouldn’t change the configuration unless you know what you’re doing. Fortunately, the BIOS has a reset option that will revert it back to its original state if you accidentally change a setting and can’t change it back. Contact your computer manufacturer or refer to your service manual for specific details on your BIOS.