In an age when technology is becoming increasingly intelligent by the month, we frequently ignore the fundamental machinery that enables our computers to be so intuitive.
Each time you click the power button on your computer, the BIOS loads your operating system and all of the personal settings that make your computer uniquely yours.
Whether you’re updating your BIOS or debugging it, understanding how to access BIOS is critical for PC users. To enter the BIOS on a Windows PC, hit the BIOS key assigned by the manufacturer, which may be F10, F2, F12, F1, or DEL.
If your PC fails the power-on self-test at startup, you may also access the BIOS using Windows 11’s advanced start menu recovery settings.
One of the features that PC users like the most about Windows is the breadth of configuration choices available right within the selected system.
Even before your computer has finished a complete restart, you may access the BIOS software and change the boot sequence, enable hardware components, or change the system time and date.
Depending on the age of your machine, accessing BIOS may need a few more keystrokes than on modern PCs.
Before you press any keys or make any changes to your computer’s settings, we’ll guide you through all you need to know about your PC’s BIOS and how to access it on a laptop or desktop PC.
What is BIOS?
BIOS, or Basic Input/Output System, is the built-in core processor software that is responsible for launching your computer. The BIOS, which is often integrated into your computer as a motherboard chip, acts as a catalyst for PC functioning.
BIOS is stored on an erasable, programmable, read-only memory (EPROM) chip, which preserves data after the power supply is turned off. When the computer is switched back on, BIOS restores the previously saved info.
Additionally, the BIOS system is in charge of data transfer between the operating system of your computer and any associated devices, such as a hard drive, keyboard, visual adapter, printer, or mouse.
When you turn on your computer, BIOS performs a procedure called Power-On Self Test, or POST, which verifies that all associated devices are performing properly and are in their respective locations.
Once all attachments have been assigned and approved, your computer will restart normally and will take you to your load screen in a matter of seconds.
If BIOS identifies an issue, an error screen or sequence of beep codes will show, essentially informing you that something has gone wrong.
BIOS technology advancements
BIOS software has been included into computers since the 1980s and has made several advancements in terms of performance and enhancement. However, due to the quick pace of technological advancement, BIOS has become obsolete and creates a slew of hurdles for modern technology.
Newer PCs with storage capacities of many terabytes appear to be too sophisticated for older BIOS software. While older computers were limited to 16-bit CPU modes and bootable disks of 2.1TB or less, contemporary systems often had 3TB or larger drives.
Thus, the UEFI was created out of the requirement for faster booting. The new BIOS standard overcomes the restrictions of the previous BIOS system. UEFI, or Unified Extended Firmware Interface Forum, supports 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems and can potentially support disks up to 9.4 zettabytes in size.
Not only is UEFI a BIOS replacement, but it also acts as a mini-OS that runs on top of the integrated firmware on your PC.
In essence, regardless of whether your computer is powered by BIOS or UEFI, you rely on this software for quick boot times and adequate processing performance. Having access to your computer’s BIOS enables you to undertake routine maintenance for optimal computer health.
What are the BIOS’s fundamental functions?
After you’ve defined BIOS, let’s look at what it actually accomplishes for your desktops, laptops, and tablets. The functioning of the BIOS may be divided into four primary functions.
As previously stated, POST is an abbreviation for the Power-On Self Test that your computer does when it is turned on. POST examines your computer’s hardware and verifies that nothing is out of order or that your operating system is free of faults.
POST examines every component of a computer, from the keyboard and disk drive to the RAM speed and integrated ports. If everything is in order, POST will proceed correctly and your PC will boot normally.
If a detected problem occurs, BIOS will show an error message, which may take the form of displayed text or a series of beeps signaling the error.
Because these beeps are always indicators of specific messages, if you receive this result, you should determine what it signifies for your computer’s hardware.
2. CMOS setup
Your PC’s CMOS memory retains all low-level settings such as the system time and hardware configuration.
This implies that every modification to the BIOS structure is recorded on a unique memory chip called the Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor, or CMOS. The CMOS configuration program is in charge of configuring your password, time, and date.
3. Bootstrap loader
The bootstrap loader, a software that resides in your computer’s EPROM or ROM, is responsible with reading the boot sector of your hard drive in order to progress through the whole operating system load.
When you restart your computer, the bootstrap loader initiates the POST procedure, which subsequently puts Windows 11 into memory. On newer PCs, the bootstrap loader has been replaced with an EFI, or Extensible Firmware Interface.
4. BIOS drivers
BIOS drivers are a collection of applications that are stored on your computer’s several memory chips. These low-level drivers are needed to start your computer and prompt you for basic operating controls.
How do you enter BIOS for all computer systems?
When you encounter an obnoxious computer issue or require modification of the CPU hardware to accommodate a freshly upgraded processor, you will require access to your computer’s BIOS.
Laptops and desktop computers with Windows 11 make accessing, testing, and upgrading your BIOS a snap by providing two simple options for doing the task at hand. Let us dissect both ways.
Method #1: Use hotkey during boot-up
It may be too quick for you to notice, but your PC undergoes a speedy POST procedure in order to load your starting screen as quickly as possible. Additionally, you may access your BIOS by hitting your PC’s specified hotkey inside this closely timed timeframe.
Regrettably, various PC manufacturers were all on different pages when it came to defining a genuine BIOS key. F10 or the escape key is typically used on HP laptops.
While DEL and F2 are the most often used hotkeys for PCs, if you’re unclear of your brand’s hotkey, this list of frequently used BIOS keys by brand may assist.
- Acer: F2 or DEL
- ASUS: F2 on all personal computers, F2 or DEL on motherboards
- Dell: F2 or F12
- HP: ESC or F10
- Lenovo: F2 or Fn + F2
- MSI: DEL for motherboards and PCs
- Microsoft Surfaces: Press and hold volume up button.
- Origin PC: F2
- Samsung: F2
- Sony: F1, F2, or F3
- Toshiba: F2
While your computer is booting, press your designated BIOS hotkey to bring up the BIOS setup tool panel.
For example, on an HP Pavilion, HP EliteBook, HP Stream, HP OMEN, or HP ENVY, hitting the F10 key immediately after your PC’s status screen appears will bring up the BIOS configuration screen.
Certain manufacturers need multiple hotkey hits, while others require the user to press another button in addition to the hotkey. To ensure that you have the most up-to-date information, consult the user manual for your PC or the manufacturer’s website.
Method #2: Use Windows 11’s start menu
As computers have improved technologically, they now start up in a matter of seconds in front of our eyes. This leaves minimal area for pressing any hotkeys, which might be perplexing for people attempting to access their BIOS settings.
For PC users who are unable to capture the little window in order to utilize their hotkey, this way of accessing BIOS may be accomplished via your computer’s settings.
Step 1: Navigate to the Windows settings
Select “Settings” from the left side of your Windows start menu. Additionally, you may access your Windows settings with the Windows shortcut key combination Windows + I.
Step 2. Select “Update & security”
You may need to scroll down this window to locate the “Update & security” button.
Step 3. Click on “Recovery.”
Step 4. Select “Restart immediately” from the menu
You’ll notice a “Restart immediately” button under “Advanced startup” that allows you to reboot your PC for setup or restoration purposes. After your computer restarts, an unique menu will appear, giving you the choice to “Use a device,” “Continue,” “Turn off your computer,” or “Troubleshoot.”
Step 5. Click the “Troubleshoot” button.
Select “Advanced options” and then “UEFI Firmware Settings” from this window. This will enable you to access the BIOS settings on your Windows 11 PC.
Step 6. Verify that your restart was successful.
These approaches will also work if your PC is running Windows 10, 8.1 or Windows 8.
How to access Windows 7, Vista, and XP BIOS
Using the same strategy of hitting your assigned hotkey during boot-up should allow you to enter your BIOS. Make certain to click that button immediately upon seeing your manufacturer’s brand emblem.
Because older operating systems load more slowly, your time frame for pressing your specified hotkey should be large enough to allow for prompt BIOS access. To enter the BIOS on Windows 7 or later, use this three-step procedure.
Step 1: Power down your computer.
On previous operating systems, you may access BIOS only immediately before the Microsoft Windows logo shows on the screen.
Step 2. Turn on your computer.
Step 3. Utilize the BIOS shortcut key.
Your PC’s BIOS can be accessed with a single keystroke or a combination of pressed keys. Often, your computer’s starting screen will specify which key or keys must be pushed to enter BIOS.
What should I do if I am unable to access the BIOS?
If you’re still having difficulty figuring out how to enter BIOS on your Windows 10 desktop PC, you’re in a pickle. Whether your startup is too quick or you believe a virus has infected your hardware, you require immediate access to your BIOS. Fortunately, we have everything you require. To obtain access to your BIOS, use these two troubleshooting approaches.
Troubleshoot method #1: Disable fast startup
If your PC powers up too rapidly for you to determine when to hit your BIOS hotkey, your timing may be preventing you from accessing the BIOS on your computer.
To reduce boot time and make your window available for hotkey pushing, you must disable quick startup. To accomplish this:
- Navigate to the “Power choices” section of your control panel.
- In the left panel, choose “Choose what the power button does” (you’ll notice that the shutdown settings are all greyed out and unmodifiable).
- Click “Change presently available settings,” which is placed above the power button and lid settings (this will allow you to uncheck or check boxes to modify your shutdown settings)
- Uncheck the box next to “Enable rapid startup.”
- Restart your computer and enter BIOS using your hotkey.
Troubleshoot method #2: Use an emergency boot disk
If your computer refuses to enter BIOS or displays the dreaded blue screen of death, you may encounter boot failure. To gain access to BIOS, you can attempt reviving your PC via USB drive using an emergency boot disk.
- After the USB drive boots, you should be able to choose a boot device during the starting process.
- Rather of the usual “Install immediately” button, click “Repair your computer.”
- Select “Troubleshoot” from the menu.
- Select “UEFI Firmware Settings” from the menu.
- Click the “Restart” button.
If nothing else works, you may need to seek assistance from a computer repair professional in your region.