40. Test Your Update Installation

If a BIOS update addresses specific, concrete problems (as shown in Screenshot O), you must decide if those issues apply to your system. If not, you should probably skip the update unless it also promises definite performance improvements. A BIOS update often enables the installation of a faster CPU and may thus provide measurable performance gains.

If you didn’t purchase your motherboard yourself, or it came as part of a turnkey PC, it’s best to check the system vendor’s site to see if a BIOS update is available for the motherboard. It’s possible that the PC vendor will offer a BIOS update that originated as a BIOS update for the motherboard it contains. But it’s also possible that the PC vendor will offer its own unique BIOS update that differs from the generic BIOS update for the motherboard. If you’re unsure whether you should apply the update from the PC vendor or the motherboard manufacturer, ask the manufacturer ; if you can’t get a straight answer, it may be wise to simply skip the update altogether.

41. Preparing A Flash Disk

When you download a BIOS update, it normally takes the form of a ZIP archive that contains numerous files. One file will contain the actual BIOS image itself, which may have a cryptic name such as "W7176IMS.110" or "AN8D1007.BIN". You’ll also normally find some kind of text file that includes installation instructions.

An executable file of type .EXE is the actual tool for flashing the BIOS. It transfers the contents of the BIOS file to the flash memory chip where the BIOS resides. For Award BIOSes, for example, this file is usually named "awdflash.exe". You might also find a helper file that simplifies invocation and use of the flash tool ; as an example it might be named something like "start.cmd", "flash.bat", or "autoexec.bat". Unpack these files into a directory named "C :\BIOS\". If the BIOS update is available for download as a self-extracting executable file, copy that file into the "C :\BIOS\", and extract its contents by executing the file inside that directory.

Important : While the PC is still running (before you reboot, in other words), print the Readme file that contains additional information about the BIOS update. Keep it with your motherboard or system manuals. If you don’t have a copy of those manuals, visit the vendor’s Web site. There you’ll find nearly all manuals available for download as PDF files.