Update Tips

Improve Your Boot Up Speed By Upgrading Your BIOS

Does your system take a little too long to boot up? You can cut considerable time off of your boot time by tweaking the BIOS settings a bit. One of the ways is to adjust the QUICK POWER ON SELF TEST setting. This may also be called FAST BOOT, or QUICK BOOT.

Do you really want your system to test the RAM each time you boot up? Let me tell you that if you have more than 265MB, then no, you don't, because the process can take minutes. Also, the RAM test won't catch anything but the most catastrophic of RAM issues so it's next to useless. So, to save time, leave the setting enabled.

Another way of improving your boot time is by simply updating the BIOS. Upgrading your BIOS can improve not only the boot up speed, but also significantly improve the overall performance of your computer as well.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

Improving Boot Speed Through BIOS Settings

Tweaking your BIOS settings can be a good way to get your system to boot faster. Just a simple change of some of the key settings can make dramatic differences in how fast your system boots up.

Enable the "Quick Boot" Feature: Many newer PC's have a special BIOS setting, usually called "Quick Boot" or "Quick Power On Self Test" that can be enabled to make the boot take less time. Try enabling this setting; this will cause the BIOS to skip some of the normal test routines that it performs at boot time, speeding up the boot process.

Remove the Boot Delay Setting: Some PC's have a BIOS setting that you can use to intentionally delay the boot-up of the PC by several seconds. This setting is often called "Boot Delay" or "Power-on Delay". This can be useful when the BIOS is booting too quickly, causing hard disk drives to be booted before they are ready. However, it also slows the boot process down, so make sure that it is only enabled if it is needed.

Disable Floppy Drive Seek: Also called "Boot Up Floppy Seek." Most PCs have a BIOS setting to disable floppy drive seeking, which is the short access the BIOS makes to the floppy disk just before it boots the system. This seek (unless disabled) is performed regardless of whether the system is being booted from the hard disk or floppy disk. Disabling the seek speeds up the boot process by a couple of seconds. This doesn't really have any negative impact on the system, although if you are having problems with your floppy drive you will probably want to re-enable the seek as this makes troubleshooting some types of problems easier.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

Overclocking Assistant

We are constantly asked about overclocking features and many new Intel BIOS contain a new feature called Overclocking Assistant.

Intel's overclocking assistant in the BIOS makes Overclocking even easier if tweaking for performance and the BIOS options are a little much. By contrast, those who do tweak can use the tool to find some good baseline starting points for overclocking based on the data that Intel has acquired through its testing of the platform.

When set to Manual, the User must manually configure Performance questions.

When set to Automatic, all Performance questions (including those in subscreens) are grayed out except for Processor Speed (GHz), Internal Graphics Speed (GHz), Memory Speed (MHz); the following questions are set as follows:

  • Failsafe Watchdog - Enable
  • Host Clock Frequency (MHz) - 100
  • Processor Voltage Override Type - None
  • Intel® Turbo Boost Technology - Enable
  • Sustained Mode Time (Seconds) - 1
  • IGD Current Limit (Amps) - 64
  • Active Core-Based Ratio Limits - Disable

Found in the performance section it allows you to quickly and simply choose processor speed (up to 4.6GHz) and memory speed, in excess of 2000MHz.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

Using Default BIOS Settings

Are you having trouble with your computer? Do you have a suspicion that the issues may be BIOS related? Perhaps you are receiving BIOS or CMOS error messages, or Beep Codes at startup. Perhaps you are receiving hardware related errors in Windows, or even experiencing periodic Blue Screens in Windows. Maybe you have updated your BIOS and some things just don't seem right.

These problems can be the result of a Windows Update, installation of new hardware, installation of new drivers, overclocking, configuration changes in the CMOS setup, or just a single change in your system's configuration. The result is often configuration or compatibility issues stored in the CMOS Setup. If this is the case, these problems can often be resolved by resetting CMOS settings by loading either the default CMOS/BIOS settings, clearing the CMOS, or by upgrading the BIOS.

Always start with the simplest solution first. Enter the CMOS setup utility during the startup of your PC. Then load the defaults by selecting Load Fail-Safe Defaults, Load BIOS Defaults, or whatever your BIOS manufacturer has named this function in your particular type and version of BIOS. Be sure to save your changes before exiting the CMOS Setup.

If this has resolved your problem you can then start tweaking the CMOS settings again to optimize performance, or try loading the Optimized defaults from the CMOS setup. Continue tweaking the CMOS settings until you have configured your system to meet your requirements and preferences. If problems reoccur, repeat the process until you pinpoint the setting that is causing the problem and make the appropriate change.

If loading the defaults does not correct the problem clear the CMOS by powering off the system, unplugging it, and removing the CMOS battery for 8-10 hours. Then put the battery back, reconnect the power, and restart the PC. Note: You will need to enter the CMOS setup reset the date and time, and save the new date and time settings before exiting. Confirm if your problem is fixed, and again, proceed to tweaking the CMOS settings if desirable.

If you still suspect you have BIOS related issues after loading default CMOS/BIOS settings, or clearing your CMOS, you may need to upgrade your BIOS to support the latest system/configuration changes made to your PC. Visit your system manufacturer's website, or use a program like BIOSAgentPlus (http://BIOSAgentPlus.com) to see if there is a newer BIOS available for your PC.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

HDD S.M.A.R.T. Monitor

One of the settings you will find in your BIOS is something called HDD S.M.A.R.T. Capability. What is that setting and what does it do? Well S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Smart Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology.

S.M.A.R.T. is supported by all current hard disks and it allows the early prediction and warning of impending hard disk disasters. You should enable it if you want to use S.M.A.R.T.-aware utilities to monitor the hard disk's condition. Enabling it also allows the monitoring of the hard disk's condition over a network.

S.M.A.R.T. is useful in providing a modicum of data loss prevention by continuously monitoring hard disks for signs of impending failure. If you have critical or irreplaceable data, you should enable this BIOS feature and use an S.M.A.R.T.-aware hardware monitoring software. Just don't rely completely on it. Back up your data on a CD or DVD!

Some of the newer BIOS now come with S.M.A.R.T. monitoring support built-in. When you enable HDD S.M.A.R.T. Capability, these new BIOS will automatically check the hard disk's S.M.A.R.T. status at boot-up. However, such a feature has very limited utility as it can only tell you the status of the hard disk at boot-up. Therefore, it is still advisable for you to disable HDD S.M.A.R.T. Capability unless you use a proper S.M.A.R.T.-aware monitoring utility.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

Why Should I Update My BIOS?

Even though updating your BIOS comes with a certain amount of risk, the potential rewards definitely make it worth it.

Motherboard manufacturers are constantly making enhancements to the BIOS firmware and the effects can significantly improve the performance of your system. It can also create additional functionality, make your system less buggy, and improve overclocking performance. BIOS updates can also be created to address something small but important, such as adding support for a higher frequency RAM or a new CPU.

It’s best to check periodically with BIOS Agent Plus to see if any new versions of your BIOS have been released.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

USB Legacy Support

One issue that is very common with some of our customers is the failure of their USB keyboard to work in a DOS or pre-Windows environment. There is a setting in your BIOS that must be enabled in order for your USB keyboard to work in that situation. That setting is called USB Legacy Support.

This setting must be enabled if the PC has a USB Keyboard and the user wants to use this keyboard either in a DOS environment or before the operating system loads (in boot menus, for example). If this setting is disabled, then booting to a floppy disk or CD-ROM will render the keyboard useless. Also, ironically, trying to enter the PC's BIOS may be impossible if this setting is disabled and a USB keyboard is connected. If the PC has a USB keyboard with a rectangular connector, then set this to Enabled . If it has a PS/2 keyboard (round connector), set this to Disabled . Be aware that enabling this feature may result in problems with the computer waking up from Standby or Hibernate mode, or cause the computer to not shut down properly. In other words, enable this only if you must.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

Virus Warning

Many BIOS will have a setting called Virus Warning. This is different than any Anti-Virus software that you may have installed on your system. This is Boot Sector virus protection which protects the boot sector or partition table of your hard drive. When this function is enabled, if someone or something attempts to write to the boot sector or partition table of the hard drive, a warning message will appear on screen and an alarm will sound. When disabled, you will not get a warning message and no alarm will sound. This feature only protects the boot sector of the hard drive, it does not protect the entire drive. Your anti-virus program installed on your system will take care of the rest of the drive. Obviously, it is a very good idea to keep this option enabled in the BIOS.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

Quick Power On Self Test

Last month we mentioned that we would be discussing different BIOS settings in this space in some issues. In this issue we are going to discuss the setting Quick Power On Self Test.

Enabling this setting allows the BIOS Power On Self Test to bypass some of its tests during the bootup. One of the key things this does is causes the POST to skip checking all of the extended memory for errors. This increases the boot time greatly.

One disadvantage of enabling this setting, however, is that you do increase the chances of the POST missing and error message. Luckily, the POST memory test is pretty much useless to detect transient memory errors. So once your system is up and running and stable, you can enable this setting without any worries that you are missing something.

The safest thing to do is to leave it disabled. Especially if you are someone who very rarely turns your system off. If you do turn your system off daily and have large amounts of RAM in your system, then enabling this option will improve your startup time significantly.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

State After Power Fail

We get asked a lot of questions about what each setting in the BIOS does. Every so often we will review a setting in this space and explain what the setting does. In this issue we are going to discuss the setting State After Power Fail.

The setting State After Power Fail deals with the state of your system after the system loses power. In some systems it may be called Power On After Power Fail. In that case the setting is self explanatory. If you set Power On After Power Fail to YES, then when power resumes the system will power on. If you set it to NO, then the system will remain off when power resumes.

However with State After Power Fail, you will have several options.

The first option is a setting called Stay Off. This setting, when selected, will keep your computer off when the power is restored.

The second option is a setting called Last State. This setting, when selected, will put your system in the state it was in when power was lost.

The third option is a setting called Power On. This setting, when selected, will turn the system on when power is restored.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

Keep Unauthorized Users from Making Changes

The Security section of the BIOS can be used to keep unauthorized people from making changes to the BIOS.

The option called Security Option can be set to either Setup or System. When it is set to SETUP the security is on the BIOS Setup screens. A user would need a password to be able to make changes to the BIOS Setup screens.

When the option SYSTEM is set, the user will need a password to even get the system to boot.

There are also settings for Supervisor Password and a User Password. If you choose to set the Security Option then you will need to set your Supervisor and User Password options. If you choose to select a Supervisor Password, a password will be required to enter the BIOS after you choose setup, as described above. If you choose SYSTEM as described above, then a password will be required for cold-booting as well.

With the User Password option, a different password assigned to users is required to boot the PC, and if a Supervisor Password has also been selected, permits the user to only adjust the date and time in the BIOS.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

How to Enter the BIOS or CMOS Setup Screens

We still get asked quite often how to enter the BIOS or CMOS Setup screens. Thankfully, computers that have been manufactured in the last few years will allow you to enter the CMOS by pressing one of the below five keys during the boot. Usually it's one of the first three.

  • F1
  • F2
  • DEL
  • ESC
  • F10

A user will know when to press this key when they see a message similar to Press to enter BIOS setup as the computer is booting. Some older computers may also display a flashing block to indicate when to press the F1 or F2 keys.

If your computer is a new computer and you are unsure of what key to press when the computer is booting, try pressing and holding one or more keys on the keyboard. This will cause a stuck key error, which may allow you to enter the BIOS setup.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

When is it Time to Update My BIOS?

We get a lot of people who ask, “How do I know when I should upgrade my BIOS?” It could be different for everyone, but usually there are some tell-tale signs.

If you’re experiencing strange behavior such as blue screens or your system restarting, or you’re looking for more functionality such as the ability to add a larger hard drive to your system, then a BIOS update is definitely something you will need to consider.

Motherboard makers are constantly enhancing the BIOS firmware and the end result can be significantly improved performance, less buggy behavior, additional functionality, improved overclocking performance, and much more.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

Unknown Flash Type

One of the more common issues that comes up when trying to upgrade your BIOS is the error message "Unknown Flash Type."

There are several causes for this error. The most common is that there is write protection on the existing BIOS. To verify if this is the case, enter your CMOS setup and check for a setting labeled BIOS GUARDIAN or FLASH BIOS PROTECTION. This should be under the screen entitled ADVANCE BIOS FEATURES. If you are able to locate one of those settings, set it to disabled. Then save and exit your CMOS settings by choosing F10.

Another possibility is that you are using an old flash utility. Old flash utilities can produce and UNKNOWN FLASH TYPE error as well. You can replace the existing flash utilities with a newer one from our site here.

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

How to Clear a BIOS Password

One of the most common questions we get is how you clear a BIOS password. A BIOS password can prevent access to the BIOS Setup or even prevent a system from booting. Well, there are basically 3 ways to clear a password:

The most common is to open your computer and remove the lithium battery, wait a few seconds to clear the data from the well and put back CMOS battery. Normally this will erase the password and is not complicated. Some systems require the battery to be out longer. If possible take it out before going to bed and replace it in the morning.

In extreme cases, such as in the old 386, 486 and some other models that have the battery welded, the board does not contain jumpers. In these situations you can use certain programs that will allow you to clear the CMOS. There is one called CLRCMOS that can be run from DOS or Windows. CLRCMOS is available in the support section of our site here.

DEBUG. It runs under DOS and does not require any specific program; the first thing you have to do is start the computer with a DOS system disk. Once it is booted, run the DEBUG as follows:

C:\> debug -> enter
- o 70 17 -> enter
- o 71 ff -> enter
- q -> enter

» Click Here to scan your PC for the latest BIOS and Driver Updates!

BIOSAgentPlus is a small FREE program that helps you quickly identify and update your BIOS.

Download BIOSAgentPlus