- Troubleshooting BIOS is kind of a misnomer because that implies that BIOS breaks. BIOS doesn't really break. What happens to BIOS is that we misconfigure it and mess it up. So, what I want to talk about are some of the things that we do to BIOS and how to fix them. One of the most common things we do for starters, is we go into the system's setup and we start messing around with settings in there. If you change the boot order of your drives, you can keep the system from booting. You can type in a user password and then forget what you typed in.
There's a lot of things you can do and you can cause a lot of trouble. So, when that takes place, the first thing you can do, if you can, is to get back into your system setup, and somewhere in there is going to be a restore to optimal defaults, or restore to base defaults or something, you can go in there and it will pretty much reset itself, and your system will at least be boot-able. It may not be perfect, but it'll be pretty much ready to go. The other big issue, are the supervisor and user passwords.
If somebody types in and then runs away in a huff, you've got a problem. What you're gonna have to do in that case is, you're not gonna be able to get to the system setup, so you're gonna have to clear it somehow. Luckily for us, most motherboards come with a little jumper on the motherboard itself, that allows us to clear the CMOS, or clear the system setup. I've got one right here. So, we take a look on this motherboard, and I actually had to go to the motherboard book to find this, but this little jumper here, if I pull it out, and I short it across these other two connectors like that, and leave it there for 30 seconds, it wipes everything off of the CMOS and basically resets it to basic settings, clears all the passwords and everything out too.
So, while we're looking at this motherboard, the other thing I want to take a little peek at is the battery over here. Now, remember, the job of the battery is, more than anything else, is to keep the clock ticking when the system's shut down. Most motherboards, as long as you have them plugged in, they don't even need that. Because they will simply tap a little power off the power supply to keep the CMOS running. But, anyway, this battery is important, it certainly covered on the A plus itself.
So what I want to do is, let's see if we can pop this guy out using the handy-dandy mic tool, and what I have here is a CR2032 battery. So, CR2032, those are pretty common. Oh, by the way, if you touch it like this, you're pretty much going to mess it up. So you wanna be real careful when you touch these batteries. (clicking) Get that guy back in there, there he goes. The other thing to watch out for batteries is, if your clock starts to slow down.
If you're looking at your computer all the time and you keep noticing that the clock is a little bit slower, it's a pretty good clue that your system has a battery that's wearing down. This can be a little bit tricky with today's systems because Windows, for example, can actually be configured to, whenever you log into the internet, to check the time based on United States Navy Observatory time, or whatever, Greenwich time, and all this thing, and will update your computer based on these, when you're on the internet. So it can be a little bit tricky, but it's on the A plus so watch for that too.
The other time we can really get into trouble is when we go in and we update our BIOS. Updating our BIOS is something we do all the time. And it's important. Well, I shouldn't say all the time, but a few times during the life of the system, you're gonna go ahead and flash the BIOS, as we say. Flashing the BIOS means that you're literally taking the information that's on your BIOS chip and rewriting new code on it. This can be an incredibly dangerous thing to do. If, for example, you start a flash process, and halfway through all the power goes out, there's a very good chance that you just turned your motherboard into a paperweight.
So it's something we don't want to go into too lightly. But flashing is important. My system, for example, it supports an LGA2011 socket. But what if Intel comes out with new I7 CPUs that will fit into my motherboard, but are faster than what my motherboard knows? In that case, I would need to update my BIOS to be able to take on newer CPUs and things like that. So flashing can be a very, very good thing to do. The process of flashing is done in a lot of different ways.
You can go into your system setup to do it. A lot of times within the system setup there will be an update BIOS. You can go to the manufacturer's website and you can usually download a little boot-able tool and they put it on a thumb drive, you boot off the thumb drive, and that updates your BIOS. Or, you can do what I've got right here. God, I love this system so much! It's got a lot of cool things. Here's one of them right here. Now, I'm not gonna turn into a complete advertisement for Asus but they are one of my favorite motherboards and this is one of the reasons why.
This is a tool called Asus update. And I can literally run it from Windows. And you can see the choices it gives me, I can update my BIOs from the internet, I can just download the BIOS, I can update my BIOS from a file, so if I've already downloaded it, it'll ask where the file is and it'll update my BIOS. Well, here's kind of a cool one. If I want to keep a copy of my BIOS, I can go ahead and say save BIOS to a file. You're not gonna see this with a lot of systems, but on the systems that do have it, it's pretty impressive.
So, flashing is great, but what happens when flashes go bad? Well, you're in trouble. On a lot of motherboards, if you have a bad flash, you are simply going to throw the motherboard away. Once in a while you get lucky and you can find systems that still have removable ROMs and things like that but those are extremely rare anymore. And as a result of that, you really wanna do the flash right. There are a couple of ways that sometimes you can get away with stuff.
In particular, you'll see motherboards today, for example, Gigabyte will sell motherboards that they call dual BIOS, and literally what they're doing there is they have two ROM chips on there. One ROM chip is the one that you update and use all the time, but there's a backup ROM chip, so if you ever mess up your first one, you can actually switch over to your base ROM and at least get the system up and cooking again and you can reset the system. Now, if you're a real nerd like me, and you love these big enthusiast motherboards, some of them come with some really, really cool surprises.
Let me show you the back of the system. When it comes to enthusiast motherboards, the people who sell these motherboards to us enthusiasts, understand that we tend to push the limits on things quite a bit. And we're always flashin' our BIOS and doing all kinds of things that we shouldn't be doing. Or, we're experimenting, trying to get the ultimate performance out of our system. So there's always some way to recover. This Asus system has something really cool. I can make a backup copy of my BIOS, and put it on a thumb drive, for example, and if I need to, let's say I really screw up a flash, I can go ahead and just plug this guy in, (clicking) There we go.
Reboot the system, hold down this button, and it doesn't care where the BIOS is, it will go ahead and take the BIOS that's on this flash drive and re-write it. So no matter how badly I mess it up, I can always recover using this particular feature. You're not gonna find this on an inexpensive motherboard. Which is another reason why I like to buy better motherboards. (upbeat jazz music)
The CompTIA A+ 220-901 exam is comprised of six key parts. The first, core processing, is covered by this course. Instructor Mike Meyers explains the fundamentals of PCs, microprocessors, RAM, and BIOS. He also shows you how to set up, connect, maintain, and troubleshoot the main components of a computer.
Note: The six courses designed for the CompTIA A+ (220-901) exam preparation include core processing, core hardware, peripherals and building a PC, displays and printers, networking, and laptops and mobile devices.
We are now a CompTIA Content Publishing Partner. As such, we are able to offer CompTIA exam vouchers at a 10% discount. For more information on how to obtain this discount, please download these PDF instructions.
- How do personal computers (PCs) work?
- What is a central processing unit (CPU)?
- When is random access memory (RAM) used?
- What is a basic input/output system (BIOS)?
- Installing a CPU
- Working with extensions and sockets
- Troubleshooting RAM
- Setting up a BIOS