Stands for "Basic Input/output System." Most people don't need to ever mess with the BIOS on a computer, but it can be helpful to know what it is. The BIOS is a program pre-installed on Windows-based computers (not on Macs) that the computer uses to start up. The CPU (Central Processing Unit) accesses the BIOS even before the

Since the BIOS manages the HDD's (Hard Drives), it can't reside on one, and since it is available before the computer boots up, it can't live in the RAM (Random Access Memory). So where can this amazing, yet elusive BIOS be found? It is actually located in the ROM (Read-Only Memory) of the computer. More specifically, it resides in an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) chip. So, as soon as you turn your computer on, the CPU accesses the EEPROM (Electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) and gives control to the BIOS.

The BIOS also is used after the computer has booted up. It acts as an intermediary between the CPU and the I/O (Input/Output) devices. Because of the BIOS, your programs and your OS(Operating System) don't have to know exact details (like hardware addresses) about the I/O (Input/Output) devices attached to your PC. When device details change, only the BIOS needs to be updated. You can make these changes by entering the BIOS when your system starts up.

To access the BIOS, hold down the appropriate key as soon as your computer begins to start up. There is usually an on screen prompt like the one below to tell which key to press. This normally appears before the windows logo appears on your screen.

If you miss it, not to worry allow the machine to completely power on, and then simply restart. It may be a good idea to start the machine up and look for the Set up key, then perform a reboot and enter the BIOS.

Once you have accessed your BIOS it will look something similar to this, to move around in the BIOS you need to use the Up, Down, Left, Right arrows on your keypad, some of the function keys are also used, such as F10 is typically used to save any changes you have made and exits the BIOS. These are usually displayed at the top of the BIOS next to descriptions of what each key does. Whenever you exit the BIOS your machine will restart.

How your BIOS looks can depend on the age of your machine as well as the manufacturer of your Motherboard. On newer Motherboard's, manufacturers such as MSI (Micro-Star Incorporated) and GIGABYTE have introduced something called a Click BIOS. This type of BIOS to use your Mouse within your BIOS not limiting you just to the arrow keys.

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