I often receive questions about updating the UEFI BIOS firmware on a computer’s motherboard.
Horror stories abound about firmware updates that went bad and bricked the devices so many folks are understandably nervous about attempting to update the BIOS on their own motherboards.
In a nutshell, the UEFI BIOS firmware is a basic set of instructions and settings that inform your CPU about the various hardware components that are inside your PC and how it should interact with them.
If this firmware get’s corrupted somehow one or more of your computer’s hardware devices could fail to operate correctly.
Even worse, your system might not even be able to boot up into the operating system.
In other words, your computer could easily become a useless hunk of metal and plastic.
One of the most common ways for a motherboard’s firmware to get corrupted is by a failed BIOS update procedure.
In times past a botched firmware update would completely brick a motherboard and make it unusable for all time, but luckily most recent models have a USB Flash Back procedure that will allow you to recover from a failed UEFI BIOS firmware update.
Some motherboard don’t have Flash Back capability however, so it always pays to be super careful any time you attempt a BIOS firmware update.
Here are a few general tips for ensuring that your next motherboard firmware update goes as planned:
1 – Ask yourself this question: “Do I really need to update my motherboard’s firmware?”.
If the answer to that question is “no”, I strongly recommend that you just leave it alone.
But how do you decide whether the answer is “yes” or “no”? Well, here are a couple more questions that can help you make that decision:
a) “Is my computer having issues that a BIOS firmware could possibly resolve?”
b) “Would a new firmware update make my computer more stable or allow me to use a new or upgraded piece of hardware?”
If the answer to both of those questions is no, I recommend that you leave well enough alone and forgo the BIOS update.
If you ultimately determine that a BIOS update is truly needed, continue on with number two below…
2 – Visit the “Support” section of your motherboard manufacturer’s website and print out the exact steps you need to follow to flash the BIOS.
Yes, I do mean print them out. Why? Because you don’t want to lose access to those instructions if something happens while you’re in the middle of the update procedure (the device the instructions are displayed on shuts down, for instance).
3 – Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for performing the update to the letter.
Important: Take extra care when reading the instructions for determining exactly which update file you need to download for your specific motherboard.
Motherboards can vary a bit at the firmware level, even when they look exactly the same and share the same base model number. Just a small variation can mean the difference between success and failure when updating a motherboard’s BIOS firmware.
Please forgive me for “yelling”, but this statement is that important: MAKE SURE YOU DOWNLOAD THE CORRECT BIOS UPDATE FOR YOUR MOTHERBOARD!
4 – Make sure your computer is plugged into a battery backup device while you’re performing the update procedure.
One of the most common causes of a failed UEFI BIOS update is a power outage that occurs while the firmware is being flashed. And yes, it does happen, and more often that you might imagine.
Using a battery backup device during the update procedure will help ensure that your motherboard won’t lose power before the update is complete.
And by the way, you need to plug your laptop into a battery backup unit while flashing the BIOS as well.
After all, batteries do run out of juice, and they tend to do it at the worst possible times. Can you think of a worse time than right smack dab in the middle of a firmware update?
Bottom line: UEFI BIOS firmware updates can be nerve-wracking experiences, but the tips above can help you successfully update the firmware on your motherboard with as little risk as possible.
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