Older computers may have BIOS too old to handle plug and play, fancy video cards, or large hard drives. In this case, it is wise to upgrade your BIOS.
Many machines require that you install a whole new motherboard in order to swap the BIOS for something newer. Many Pentium machines, though, have Flash ROM, or Flash EPROM. If such chips are used in the BIOS, the machine is said to have Flash BIOS. In such machines, you simply run an update utility to upgrade your BIOS. The software performs all of the modifications for you. While this can be very easy to do, you must do it according to the instructions that come with the update. If installed wrong, your computer might not start at all.
Before installing any new BIOS, first make sure you get the right BIOS, Contact the company that made your machine and ask them what they think your machine should be running. You can also try Wim’s BIOS guide to identifying your motherboard. Next, enter your CMOS and record your settings. On most machines you can get to CMOS by pressing F1 or Delete after start up or CTRL-ALT-ESC. Once there, record your setting either by hand, or printing them. Make sure you get all of the settings. Using the PRINT SCREEN button might be the best way. This step will make sure you can rebuild the settings if your CMOS gets erased during the upgrade.
If the computer you’re upgrading has a modem, you can log on to the company’s FTP or web site and usually download the new BIOS program for free. Here is a list of motherboard manufacturers. Usually, you can navigate to the product page for your motherboard and you will find a link to the BIOS download page. You should see a most recent BIOS for download as well as an archive of previous BIOS versions. Look for a change log to see what might have changed for each BIOS release. Some changes are useless, others provide real support for newer hardware which you might be interested in. Also, some manufacturers provide their BIOS downloads wiht the flash utility and the BIOS .bin file bundled together into an EXE file. This is convenient and use them when they are available. Others release their BIOS on ZIP files, and the resulting un-zipped file is just a .bin file. In this case, you will need to download the flash utility separately. When you download it, download to a bootable, high-density diskette. Make sure you format and copy system files to the diskette before use. This option is given in the Windows disk-format screen. If the system has no modem, you will need to contact the company and ask them to send you the BIOS on diskette, but everybody should have a modem nowdays.
Once you have the upgrade file on diskette, pop the disk in Drive A:. Unzip the file if it is zipped. Then read any *.TXT files or any other file that has installation instructions. These are your prime instructions to follow and take precendence over anything I could write here. You may want to print them. Below, I will outline the procedure:
- Insert the bootable floppy disk in drive A:.
- The file that you downloaded from the manufacturer will be a compressed self-extracting archive. Move the file into a temporary directory and uncompress it by typing in the file’s name and Enter.
- It should uncompress into a license agreement and an executable. Read the license agreement. Then, you want to extract the contents of the executable to your floppy disk. Do this by typing the filename A: and Enter. For example, if the file is called BIOS.EXE, then type BIOS A: and hit Enter. This will extract it to the A: drive.
- Place the floppy disk containing the new BIOS into the A: drive of the computer you wish to update. Reboot the system with the disk in the drive.
- Press Enter to go to the Main Menu. Select “Update flash memory from a file.” Then select “Update system BIOS.”
- When it asks you to type the file path, just press enter, tab, then enter again.
- Once the process is complete, remove the floppy and reboot the machine.
- As it boots watch the BIOS identifier to make sure the new version is actually being used. During boot, hit the appropriate key to go into the CMOS setup.
- Assign all of your settings. You can use the BIOS Guide, written by yours truly.
- Save your settings and reboot.