How to Update BIOS

Flash BIOS to install new features and fix hardware problems

BIOS updates are unlike an update you might perform on a software program or operating system. Not only are they often applied differently but most people never need to worry about updating BIOS unless a troubleshooting guide specifically calls for it.

However, there are often good reasons to update your computer's BIOS. If you're installing new hardware that your computer won't recognize or you're troubleshooting another hardware-related issue, a BIOS update might provide a needed compatibility or stability improvement. An update can also add features to a motherboard, fix bugs, and address security issues.

The steps outlined below are specific for updating BIOS on a Dell computer. While the process is generally the same, each BIOS manufacturer has their own unique process. Be sure to read the section at the bottom of this page if you're not using a Dell PC.

Before Updating BIOS

Regardless of the BIOS manufacturer, there are a few things you need to do first before jumping into the update itself:

  1. Confirm that a BIOS update is really needed. You might be told to install a new BIOS version as a general troubleshooting step, but those are only general guidelines that don't always apply to every situation. If an update isn't available, then running through the steps below won't be helpful.

    To do that, check the current BIOS version and compare it with the version number stated on the manufacturer's website. If you're not sure about the manufacturer, use the Microsoft System Information directions in that link, or follow a different method in that article if you can't boot into your computer.

  2. Take whatever precautions you need to make sure your computer won't shut down during the BIOS update! An update that is suddenly interrupted could corrupt the BIOS and cause even more problems.

    If you're updating BIOS on a desktop, then there's nothing more you need to do except hope that the power stays on (or use battery backup). If you're on a laptop, plug it into the wall and leave it be until you've finished all of the necessary steps.

  3. Back up your data. A BIOS update shouldn't lock you out of your files or delete anything, but it's always a good idea to back up before working with your computer at this level.

How to Update BIOS

With the important prerequisites out of the way, it's time to actually flash BIOS:

BIOS updates are specific to each motherboard model. Do not download a Dell BIOS update unless Dell is your motherboard's manufacturer and always use the BIOS update file that's specific to your computer or motherboard's model.

  1. Visit Dell's Drivers & Downloads page.

  2. Select Detect PC to identify your computer automatically. If that doesn't work, or if you're not on the computer you'll be updating, search for your model or service tag and select your computer from the list.

  3. Choose BIOS from the Category drop-down menu.

    Dell BIOS category
  4. Select Download to save the BIOS update to your computer.

    If you're downloading this file on a different computer than the one that needs the BIOS update, save it to the root of a flash drive (you'll need to format the drive to the FAT32 file system).

  5. If you're using the same computer that the BIOS update is for, open the file and confirm once again that the current BIOS version is older than the new version.

    Dell Update BIOS utility

    If the file is on a flash drive, plug it into the computer that needs the BIOS update and then turn the computer on, or restart it if it's already on.

  6. If you're running the update from within Windows, select Update, wait for all the different update processes to complete, and then press Yes when you see the Update successful! message to restart your computer. That's it!

    If you're updating BIOS from the file on the flash drive, press the F12 key while restarting. When you see a black screen with text options, press the down arrow key to highlight BIOS Flash Update, and then press Enter. Continue with Step 7.

  7. Use the browse button to find the EXE file you downloaded to the flash drive earlier.

    Select it and then press OK.

  8. Choose Begin Flash Update, and then confirm with Yes, to start updating BIOS. Your computer will reboot to finish the update.

Updating BIOS on Other Systems

The Dell-specific instructions above are similar to how you'd update BIOS on a different computer. Here are the general steps for doing this on computer systems other than Dell:

  1. Visit the manufacturer's site to search for and download their BIOS update utility. Follow one of these links if the BIOS manufacturer matches any of these companies:

    Depending on the manufacturer, you might be able to use a more automatic method to update BIOS, such as with HP Support Assistant.

  2. Open the file from wherever you downloaded it.

    If this BIOS update is for a different computer, run the file anyway and look for an option to make a recovery flash drive that you can boot from on the non-working computer. Or, copy the file to a flash drive, insert it into the computer that needs the BIOS update, and then restart that computer.

  3. Follow the on-screen steps to update BIOS. You might need to press an Install, Setup, or Flash BIOS button. It might be on the tool's start screen or within an Advanced menu.

  4. Restart when you're told to so that the BIOS update can finish. If there are additional steps you need to follow, select any Update or Continue buttons to finalize the update.

If you need specific help updating BIOS, visit the manufacturer's help documents. These ASUS, HP, and Lenovo support pages have all the details you need to do this on their systems.