Unsure of whether or not you need to update your BIOS? In this guide, we go over when you should update your BIOS and how you can do so.
Need to update your computer BIOS but don’t know how? Have you seen something online telling you that keeping your BIOS updated is a good idea? If you’re thinking of updating your BIOS but aren’t sure how or why, this tutorial might help. We are going to cover how to check your BIOS version and how to update your BIOS if you need to.
A computer BIOS, Basic Input Output System, is the firmware your motherboard needs to boot properly. It essentially tells the motherboard what hardware is connected to it, how to access it, and what settings to use, as well as provides it with the essential information required to boot your computer.
The BIOS is contained on a small chip on the motherboard. Newer motherboards use UEFI, Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, which is like the BIOS but can contain more information.
Even though UEFI has been around for a while, people still refer to it as BIOS and use the two terms interchangeably. We will do the same here.
Do You Really Need to Update Your BIOS?
We don’t usually preface a tutorial by attempting to talk you out of doing something but this is one of those rare occasions where it is necessary. The BIOS is a sensitive part of the computer. Updating it is not the easiest and can stop your motherboard working if you get it wrong. Only update your BIOS if you think it is absolutely necessary or you’re worried about UEFI exploits.
Updating a BIOS can not only offer security updates but also add new features and offer compatibility for newer processors. It can also be a method of last resort for addressing low-level system issues that reinstalling the OS or changing components doesn’t fix. The update process isn’t for the faint of heart but is logical enough if you need to do it.
Consider upgrading your BIOS if:
- You need to add compatibility for a new processor or RAM.
- You’re having stability issues and have eliminated all other causes.
- You’re seriously worried about UEFI exploits.
You don’t have to update your BIOS if:
- You think you need the latest BIOS for your motherboard to continue working properly.
We suggest reading this entire tutorial before you do anything and make sure you understand how the process works before starting. Getting it wrong could brick your motherboard so be careful!
How to Check Your BIOS Version
First you should check your BIOS version to see if you really need to update it. You can watch the boot screen when you first start your computer to see the version. This is a simple way to do it but the screen flashes fast so you have to be quick. It may be easier to use Windows System Information to tell you.
- Type ‘msinfo’ into the Windows Search box and hit Enter. You should see a dialog box like the above appear.
- Check next to BIOS Version/Date. This shows your BIOS version and the year of release.
Compare the value in BIOS Version/Date to the latest version released by the motherboard manufacturer to see if you actually need to update your BIOS or not. If you want to go ahead with the update, keep reading.
How to Update Your BIOS
Updating your BIOS is not like updating a driver where you download an executable and run it. As the BIOS is a low-level instruction set, Windows cannot address it directly. You must download the update onto a USB drive, boot into your UEFI control panel and install the update from there.
Different manufacturers have different tools and nomenclature. Some call BIOS updates just that, updates while others call the process ‘flashing the BIOS.’ Either way, the end result is the same.
Here’s how to update your BIOS.
- Back up any data you may need on your computer to removable or cloud storage. It’s a precaution but an important one.
- Identify your motherboard type and manufacturer from Windows System Information.
- Visit the manufacturer’s website and locate the BIOS update page for your motherboard.
- Compare your BIOS version to the latest version. Find out from the page if you must update the BIOS sequentially or if the latest update will include all previous updates.
- Download that BIOS update to your computer and copy it to a USB flash drive.
- Reboot your computer and boot into the USB drive. The update tool should present you with a basic dashboard.
- Save your current BIOS as a precaution.
- Select the updated BIOS on the USB drive and select the option to update.
- Allow the process to complete. Do not touch anything or interfere during this process.
- Reboot your computer when prompted by the installer. Remove the USB drive and boot directly into Windows.
- Run Windows System Information again (msinfo) and check to see if the data has been updated.
That’s it. While the process does seem very straightforward, it can go wrong. That’s why it’s important to only undertake a BIOS/UEFI update if you’re sure you absolutely need it.