Motherboard manufacturers periodically release updates for their BIOS. The release notes, such as those shown in Figure 1, describe the upgrade to the product, compatibility improvements, and the known bugs that have been addressed. Some newer devices operate properly only with an updated BIOS installed. To check the version of the BIOS installed in your computer, consult the BIOS Setup, as shown in Figure 2.

Early computer BIOS information was contained in ROM chips. To upgrade the BIOS information, the ROM chip had to be replaced, which was not always possible. Modern BIOS chips are EEPROM, or flash memory, which can be upgraded by the user without opening the computer case. This process is called flashing the BIOS.

To download a new BIOS, consult the manufacturer’s website and follow the recommended installation procedures. Installing BIOS software online may involve downloading a new BIOS file, copying or extracting files to removable media, and then booting from the removable media. An installation program prompts the user for information to complete the process.

Although it is still common to flash the BIOS through a command prompt, several motherboard manufacturers provide software on their websites that allow a user to flash the BIOS from within Windows. The procedure varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

CAUTION: An improperly installed or aborted BIOS update can cause the computer to become unusable.