Every computer has its BIOS, short for Basic Input/Output System), which is a firmware installed on the PC’s motherboard. Through the BIOS you may initialize and configure hardware components (CPU, RAM, hard disk, etc.). Let’s say it’s a kind of translator or bridge between computer hardware and software. Its main functions are:

  • Initialize the hardware.
  • Detect and load the bootloader and operating system.
  • Configure multiple parameters of your PC such as boot sequence, time and date, RAM times and CPU voltage.
  • Set up security mechanisms like a password to restrict access to your PC.

Importance of understanding how to access and update the BIOS

Since its main function is to initialize and check that all the hardware components of your PC are working properly, if everything is working correctly, BIOS looks for the operating system on the hard drive or other boot device connected to your PC. However, accessing‌ BIOS may be an unknown process for many users, preventing its update, which can guarantee the performance of the equipment and its security. Later in this blog we will explain how to access BIOS.

Clarification on the non-routine nature of BIOS updates

It is recommended to update BIOS to maintain performance, stability and computer security. Your PC manufacturer can send BIOS updates to add features or fix some bugs. The process is overall simple, but it must be done with great care to avoid irreversible damage. Also, it should be avoided to turn off or cut off the power in the middle of an upgrade process with serious consequences for the equipment.

Accessing the BIOS from Windows

To access BIOS, there are several options, from the following buttons, depending on the brand of your computer:

  • Dell: F2 or F12
  • HP: F10
  • Lenovo: F2, Fn + F2, F1, or Enter followed by F1
  • Asus: F9, F10 or Delete
  • Acer: F2 or Delete
  • Microsoft Surface: Hold the volume up button pressed
  • Samsung/Toshiba/Intel/ASRock/Origin PC: F2
  • MSI/Gigabyte/EVGA/Zotac/BIOStar: Delete

Instructions for accessing the BIOS from Windows 10 or 11 through Settings and the Advanced Start option

Just follow these instructions:

  • Restart your computer and wait for the manufacturer’s logo to appear.
  • Press the key one of the keys mentioned above when viewing the home screen to access the BIOS settings.
  • Once in the BIOS, you may navigate through the different options using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

You may also follow this process in Windows 11:

  • On the login or lock screen, press the Shift key on your keyboard and tap the power button (or click the power option at the bottom right of the login screen). Then choose the Reset option from the menu.
  • When Windows 11 restarts, you will be shown the advanced startup screen (choose an option).
  • Then scroll to Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Settings and click Restart.

Since BIOS configuration can have an impact on the operation of your PC, it is recommended to seek help from a professional.

Alternatives to using the Windows 10 and 11 method if the operating system loads too fast to access BIOS.

An alternative to start Win11 BIOS configuration is from the Settings application. Just follow these three steps:

  • Open Windows 11 Settings
  • Navigate to System > Recovery > Restart now.
  • Before you click Restart Now , save your work.
  • Next, go to Troubleshooting > Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Configuration and click Restart. (we will talk about UEFI later in this blog post)

Another alternative is to use the Windows Run command:

  • Open up the Run box (by pressing the Windows + R keys).
  • Then type shutdown /r /o , and press Enter . A shortcut is to type shutdown /r/o/f /t 00 and click OK .
  • Then select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Configuration and click Restart to boot into the system BIOS settings.

By the command line, also:

  • Open CMD, PowerShell or Terminal.
  • Type in shutdown /r /o /f /t 00 o shutdown /r /o and press Enter.
  • Then go to Troubleshooting > Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Configuration and click Restart to get to the Windows 11 BIOS/UEFI configuration.

A more customized option is by shortcut:

  • Right-click on the Windows 11 desktop and select New > Shortcut.
  • In window Create Shortcut, enter shutdown /r/o /f /t 00 or shutdown /r /o to locate it.
  • Follow the instructions to create a BIOS shortcut.

Once the BIOS configuration shortcut is created, just double-click it and choose Troubleshooting > Advanced Options > UEFI Firmware Configuration and click Restart to boot your PC into the BIOS environment.

What does UEFI stand for?

UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) has emerged as the most modern and flexible firmware with new features that go hand in hand with today’s needs for more volume and more speed. UEFI supports larger hard drives and faster boot times.

UEFI advantages:

  • Easy to program since it uses the C programming language. With this programming language you may initialize several devices at once and have much faster booting times.
  • More security, based on Secure Boot mode.
  • Faster, as it can run in 32-bit or 64-bit mode and has more addressable address space than BIOS, resulting in a faster booting process.
  • Make remote support. easier. It allows booting over the network, and may also carry different interfaces in the same firmware. A PC that cannot be booted into the operating system can also be accessed remotely for troubleshooting and maintenance.
  • Safe booting, as you may check the validity of the operating system to prevent or check if any malware tampered with the booting process.
  • More features and ability to add programs. You may also associate drivers (you would no longer have to load them into the operating system), which is a major advantage in agility.
  • Modular, since modifications can be made in parts without affecting the rest.
  • CPU microcode independence.
  • Support for larger storage drives, with up to 128 partitions.

Additionally, UEFI can emulate old BIOSes in case you need to install on old operating systems.

Continued use of the “BIOS” term to refer to UEFI for simplicity

BIOS is still used to initialize and check the hardware components of a computer to ensure proper operation. Also, as we have seen, it allows you to customize PC behavior (which boots first, for example). So BIOS is still helpful in troubleshooting issues that prevent the PC from booting properly.

When should you update your BIOS?

Reasons to perform a BIOS update

Updating the BIOS (or UEFI), as we mentioned before, helps the system work with better performance, in addition to checking and adjusting the installed hardware, which in turn ultimately impacts software operation. It is recommended to update BIOS only if there is a necessary improvement in the new version.
Sometimes, it is necessary to update BIOS so that the motherboard supports the use of a new generation processor or other type of hardware.

Warning about the potential risks of a BIOS update

The recommendation to update BIOS only when it is a necessary part of the possibility that the updating process​ fails, leaving your computer inoperable (!). Another risk is data loss if something fails during the upgrade (a connection outage, power, incomplete process). It considers that there may be unexpected errors that may result in a direct impact on the operation ‌of your computer. That is why it is recommended to ask for professional support to do so.

How to update your BIOS

Although each manufacturer recommends a process and their own tools for updating BIOS, you may say that the first step is always to back up the most critical data on your computer, in case something goes wrong in the process (hopefully not!). To do so, the following is recommended:

Identification of the motherboard model and BIOS using Windows system information

The BIOS update is based on the model data of the motherboard or computer. To find out, press the Windows key on your PC and type System Information . The service window will open in which all the details of the installed software will be listed. You will see the System Model and BIOS Version and Date, for the BIOS manufacturer’s name, BIOS version, and release date. With this data you will know which version of the BIOS to download (it must be later than the one you installed).

However, the most common method of updating BIOS is through an update wizard program, which takes you by the hand throughout the update process and runs from the operating system. Only indicate where the BIOS update file is located and restart the PC.

Steps to download and install the BIOS update according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Generally, the manufacturer of the motherboard of your PC has not only an update wizard program but also the BIOS update file, such as the wizard program itself, which you may download from the support page of the manufacturer of your computer or motherboard.
Once you obtain the BIOS installation wizard and the latest version of the BIOS, download them to your computer. It is important to mention that it is not recommended to use Beta versions of BIOS updates. It is preferable to keep the latest stable version, even if it is older.
Let the update wizard take you by the hand and use the BIOS update file to indicate that this is the new firmware to be installed. In case the downloaded update file is invalid or more updated to what you already have installed, the wizard software will detect it and will not perform the update.
Once this is done, restart your PC. We recommend that you check the main settings, checking that the date and time are correct, the boot order is correct (i.e. which hard drive is checked first for a Windows installation) and check that everything else is correct.
Now, you may continue working with the new BIOS version.

BIOS Update Considerations

Before making any BIOS updates, it is always recommended to back up the data so that this does not become your nightmare. For BIOS update, please consider these considerations:

  • Updating the BIOS generally does not improve performance, so it should be done only if necessary.
  • As we have seen, there are several methods for updating the BIOS, increasingly intuitive such as those in which the manufacturer itself offers an update wizard program that takes you by the hand throughout the process. It is important to follow the instructions that the manufacturer of your equipment indicates to prevent it from becoming unusable.
  • Always investigate BIOS corruption recovery options and have that information handy. That is: get ready for any contingency. Many times, despite precautionary measures, the upgrade may fail, either due to incompatibility issues or an unfortunate blackout or power outage. Should that happen, and if the PC is still working, do not turn off the computer. Close the flash update tool and restart the update process to see if it works. If you made a BIOS backup dtry selecting this file to recover it.

Also some motherboards have backup BIOSes that help restore the BIOS. Or, the manufacturer sells BIOS chips from its online store, at a good price.
Finally, we would like to repeat once again the recommendation that you rely on an expert to update the BIOS.