The BIOS

The BIOS(Basic Input/Output System) is a chip with a small amount of memory located on the motherboard of most computers (except Macintosh computers, Macintosh has what’s called “open firmware” which is basically the same thing as the BIOS). The main purpose of the BIOS is to check all hardware components, execute settings for those components, and boot the Operating System.

We can gain access to the BIOS and alter settings for the components right when the BIOS “posts”(shows up on screen) by hitting the appropriate key on the keyboard. Unfortunately there is no standard for which key to hit, so computer manufacturers usually have one specific for them. On the bright side with a lot of computers when the BIOS posts it will show which key to hit, you just have to be fast enough.

From within the BIOS we can change multiple settings, however I’m only going to focus on a few.

Changing Boot Order/Boot Sequence

Changing the boot order is extremely convenient when troubleshooting problems with a computer. Let me try to explain boot order. Remember when I said the operating system calls the hdd home? Well by default the boot order usually is hdd first, then floppy disk/cdvd, then usb(depending if your computer supports usb boot). So what it’s going to do is call on the operating system on the hdd to activate. But what if we want to boot from a cd? or dvd? or even usb? Why would we want to you ask? Well let’s say you want to reinstall windows, well that’s on dvd. Maybe you installed an operating system on an external hdd that has a usb connector. Maybe you want to use a data wiping utility you put on a cd. Regardless your reasons the BIOS controls that, and this is where you need to change it.

Password Protection

Changing the boot order is probably as much as you’ll ever do in the BIOS, however you can also add a password to the BIOS itself which is worth bringing up. Adding a password greatly enhances the security of your computer, because it stops people from being able to boot their own operating system from a usb or CD and really mess your current operating system up, or worse. It won’t protect your hdd directly, but it makes it just a little tougher.

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Overclocking

I’m not going to talk directly about Overclocking the CPU, RAM, and GPU, however this is also where that would be done. If I feel there’s enough time, I’ll make a topic specifically about overclocking.

That’s it for the BIOS! Another intimidating looking area that isn’t so bad after all!

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