Regardless of what type of computer you own, it probably has a Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). You typically won’t see the BIOS when booting up your computer, nor will see it when navigating and using your computer. Rather, the BIOS is hidden on a separate storage drive, such as flash memory. How does the BIOS work exactly, and when should you use it?

The Basics of BIOS

BIOS is firmware that comes pre-installed on computers. It consists of driver files, operating system (OS) files, tools and other utilities.

Computers have been designed with a BIOS for decades. The first BIOS, in fact, was pioneered in the mid-1970s. Since then, it’s become a common software component of nearly all computers. Desktop computers, laptop computers and even hybrid computers typically have a BIOS. The purpose of the BIOS is to provide

How BIOS Works

When you turn on your computer, the BIOS will automatically load the driver files and OS files. It will essentially provide the core functions needed to start your computer.

It’s important to note that the BIOS isn’t stored on your computer’s main hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD). Most BIOSs use flash memory for storage. As a result, they are isolated from the rest of the computer’s files. Even if your computer’s HDD or SSD fails, the BIOS will continue to provide the core functions needed to start your computer.

When to Use BIOS

You may want to use the BIOS if you are unable to load your computer’s OS. Assuming your computer runs the latest version of its OS, the risk of failure is low. OSs can experience errors, but the risk of complete failure is generally low. Nonetheless, there are technical problems that can prevent an OS from loading. And if your computer’s OS fails to load, you may need to use the BIOS to investigate the problem.

The BIOS contains more than just driver files and OS files; it contains troubleshooting tools. You can load the BIOS by pressing the BIOS key — typically F10, F12 or F2 — during startup. Once the BIOS has loaded, you can choose a specific troubleshooting tool. For a Windows computer, you may see a startup repair tool. Running this tool can find and fix problems that prevent Windows from loading.

You may be able to restore your computer to an earlier date in the BIOS as well. Windows will automatically create restore points using backups. By restoring your computer to an earlier date, you may be able to fix the problem that’s preventing Windows from loading.