ARCHIVED: What is BIOS?
BIOS is an acronym for Basic Input/Output System. It is the boot firmware program on a PC, and controls the computer from the time you start it up until the operating system takes over. When you turn on a PC, the BIOS first conducts a basic hardware check, called a Power-On Self Test (POST), to determine whether all of the attachments are present and working. Then it loads the operating system into your computer's random access memory, or RAM.
The BIOS also manages data flow between the computer's operating system and attached devices such as the hard disk, video card, keyboard, mouse, and printer.
The BIOS stores the date, the time, and your system configuration information in a battery-powered, non-volatile memory chip, called a CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) after its manufacturing process.
Although the BIOS is standardized and should rarely require updating, some older BIOS chips may not accommodate new hardware devices. Before the early 1990s, you couldn't update the BIOS without removing and replacing its ROM chip. Contemporary BIOS resides on memory chips such as flash chips or EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory), so that you can update the BIOS yourself if necessary.
For more information about BIOS see Wikipedia's BIOS page.
Last modified on January 07, 2013.