How To Update BIOS in XP

By C.D. Crowder

Your BIOS, or Basic Input Output System, is used as the communication device between your operating system and your computer's hardware. The BIOS is also required in order for your operating system to boot. You don't need to update your BIOS more than once every few years unless you upgrade your operating system or make significant hardware changes. Typical hardware changes requiring a BIOS update in XP would be a new hard drive, motherboard, sound card or video card. Updating the BIOS in XP takes approximately ten minutes.

Things You'll Need

  • Formatted media: floppy disk or USB drive

Step 1

Determine your BIOS or motherboard manufacturer. Reboot your XP computer by clicking "Start -- Turn Off Computer -- Restart." During the reboot, press the BIOS entry key. Depending on your computer manufacturer, the key may be "Esc", "Del" or "F2." The key is displayed for a few seconds before the operating system loading screen appears. If you don't press it in time, restart again. Your manufacturer and version number are listed at the top of the first BIOS settings screen. Press "Esc" to exit and reboot your computer.

Step 2

Download the correct BIOS update for your computer. Visit your motherboard, computer or BIOS manufacturer's website for the latest update. If using your computer manufacturer's website such as Dell or HP, visit the Support section and look for Drivers and Software updates.

Step 3

Choose the type of download you wish to use. Some manufacturers offer alternatives to a floppy drive BIOS flash. Alternatives include updates made especially for USB flash drives and executable files that can be run from your desktop. Any of the options will update your BIOS in the same amount of time.

Step 4

Insert the media you need to use, if any. If the file is a desktop executable file, skip this step. Open the folder you downloaded and look for a "Readme.txt" file. Read this file carefully to see which files you need to copy to your removable media. If there are no text files, copy the entire folder to the media.

Step 5

Reboot your computer with the removable media inserted. Press "F12" during the boot process to open the boot options menu. Select your media from the list. Flash drives are listed as Removable Media or PnP USB. Allow the BIOS update to run without interruption. The process is completely automated. Your computer will restart once complete. If you're using the desktop executable, close all running programs. Double-click the file to flash your BIOS. Your computer will restart once complete.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check for a BIOS update anytime you upgrade hardware and after you've had the same system for two years. If there are no updates available, don't flash the BIOS.
  • Never disconnect your computer from the power supply during an update. If the power source changes during the update, your BIOS may be corrupted.