Why should I update my BIOS? Or why I shouldn't?

It is normal for users to keep their computer system updated. It isn't even just normal, it is also required. Updating is basically done for security reasons. The updating requirement includes many of your computer system's software or programs including the antivirus software and even your Operating System like Windows itself. In most cases, they probably update automatically by default or you need to update them manually with a few mouse clicks.

However, your system BIOS is different. Though at times you need to update it, but most of the times you shouldn't. And you should only update it with good reason.

Not like regular computer software or program, the BIOS which stands for Basic Input/Output System, sits on a piece of hardware chip on the motherboard. The BIOS is basically the first sequence of code that is executed when you boot your computer. It tells the processor where to look for the operating system, how to pull out the bootstrap to start your computer working. And it continues working after the bootup. This time it facilitates the communication between the operating system and the hardware components of your computer.

Although you can update today's BIOSes, doing so is more dangerous compared to a normal software update. It is considered dangerous since a bad update can render the PC completely unbootable and unusable.

So when should you update your BIOS? Only if there's a problem and an update is required. Don't fix it when ain't broke as they say.

Research is the key to a safe BIOS update. First, find the current version of your BIOS:

  1. Select Start (Start>Run in XP), type regedit, and press ENTER.
  2. Navigate the Registry Editor's left pane, as if it were Windows Explorer, to Computer/LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE\DESCRIPTION\System.
  3. In the larger, right pane, note the data fields for SystemBiosDate and SystemBiosVersion.

With that information in hand, go to your PC or motherboard manufacturer's Web site to see if there's a new version available. If there is, check carefully as to ensure it is actually for your particular hardware computer model. Equally important is that you read the description of the update since the manufacturer details as to what problems the update will fix. If your problem is not listed there, then do not proceed with the update, your problem could not be related to your BIOS.

For instance, the BIOS update listed in the manufacturer's website indicates that it fixes the computer crashes or BSODs when waking up from sleep, and that is not the problem that your computer is experiencing, DO NOT proceed with the update.

The web site may offer two versions of the BIOS update tool. First could be a Windows program and second a special, bootable version you put on a CD or flash drive. If both are available, go with the bootable one.

And follow the instructions to the letter.