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Monthly Archives: November 2016

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Ways Access Computer BIOS Setup

What happens when you turn on your PC? Lights come on the keyboard and monitor, the computer’s brand logo may appear on the screen, then the operating system loading message appears. This is all occurring on screen, but in the background, your computer is actually powering on and preparing its external and internal parts. Many assume the Operating System (OS) is the first program a computer loads and operates on but the actual start-up program is the BIOS.

BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System, which is inbuilt in every PC during manufacturing and is loaded, run and executed when you press the power ON button of your PC. The BIOS is a sort of firmware interface for a computer. Different components, such as pen drives, graphics card, keyboard and mouse and disc drives attached to a computer, need to be initialized and identified to the computer. The BIOS does this in the form of a check-list (“turn USB ports on”, done) and this procedure is known as POST (power-on self-test). The operating system itself is a program, which needs to be loaded and executed. This too is performed by the BIOS, which locates the OS program on the computer’s hard disk and runs the program. One needs to enter the BIOS interface to change various system-level settings, such as changing the system clock, changing the boot up drive and managing memory. Listed below are the steps on how to access the computer’s BIOS setup.

How to Get Into Your Computer’s BIOS?

Step 1: Start your PC or restart it. When the computer starts up, usually the manufacturer’s logo or the brand name of the PC is displayed on a black screen. In some cases, the screen turns into the logo of the operating system and a “loading” or “starting” message appears on the screen. At such booting screens, a small message is displayed, which has the combination of access keys needed to enter the BIOS. Examples of such messages are:

  • Press “key” to enter BIOS
  • “key” = Setup
  • To enter the BIOS setup, press “key” + “key”
  • Press “key” to access system configuration
  • Press “key” to enter the Setup menu

In some computers, the manufacturer’s logo or brand name shows up and no message for entering the browser occurs. So try pressing the Tab or the Esc key to remove it. You can either note the key down or if the screen changes too fast for you to enter the BIOS, press the Pause/Break key on your keyboard. This key will pause the booting screen, so you can understand which keys are needed to access the BIOS. To unpause such a screen, press any key.

Step 2: Once you know the access key combinations, then press that key or press the combination of keys during the booting screen to enter the BIOS interface. In some computers, just one press of the key is enough, with others, you may need to tap it repeatedly. Do not press and hold down the key with force or press it too many times. The system may hang or an error code will show up on screen and you will need to restart your PC. With certain machines, pressing the DEL key repeatedly at the boot up screen, before the OS loading screen appears, can bring up the BIOS screen. Other common BIOS keys are F1, F2, F10, F12 and ESC.

Step 3: The BIOS is not dependent in any way on the operating system. So whether you are running Windows 7 or Mac OS X, the OS has nothing to do with your BIOS and hence different operating systems does not mean different BIOS access keys. Instead, your computer’s BIOS depends on the manufacturer of the motherboard, like Acer or ASUS. So there are proprietary access keys to enter the BIOS screen, based on the brand of the computer. Some computer systems and their BIOS access shortcuts are:

Manufacturer

  • Acer
  • Compaq
  • Dell 400
  • Dell 4400
  • Dell Inspiron
  • Dell Latitude
  • Gateway 2000
  • Hewlett-Packard (HP)
  • IBM
  • Micron
  • Packard Bell
  • Sharp
  • Sony VAIO
  • Toshiba 335CDS
  • Toshiba Portégé
  • Toshiba Satellite
  • Toshiba

Access Keys

  • F1, F2, CTRL+ALT+ESC
  • F10 (newer), F1, F2, DEL (older models)
  • F3, F1
  • F12
  • F2
  • Fn+F1, Fn+ESC
  • F1
  • F1, F2, ESC (for laptops)
  • F1, F2 (E-pro laptop)
  • F1, F2, DEL
  • F1, F2, DEL
  • F2
  • F2
  • ESC
  • ESC
  • F1
  • Tecra F1 or ESC

Warning: The above-mentioned access keys may differ from computer to computer, so always verify the information prior to usage. The correct access keys are provided as a part of the computer’s documentation. This site does not assume any responsibility for any issues that could occur by using the above information.

The BIOS is a rather sensitive part of your computer’s internal makeup, so pressing a lot of keys at the boot up screen is not a good idea, unless you know what you are doing. So do not press any or all keys in tandem or with force to enter your computer’s BIOS. Instead, refer to your computer’s manual and look for System Settings or similar headings to find the correct BIOS key. You can even search online using your computer’s model number and make.

Once you have actually accessed the BIOS and are facing the lovely light blue screen, here’s a word of caution; fiddling with BIOS settings is not for novices or the ill-informed. If you know what you are doing, then only change settings and to be safe, write down what you are changing, in case you need to go back and re-change it. Use the arrow keys and function keys to navigate and select options within the menu. Accessing the BIOS of a computer’s system can be done to change certain basic computer settings and workings, but should be carried out with caution.

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Ways to Easily Update Computer BIOS

BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System, and it is typically a software that is embedded on the motherboard of a system. It controls the hardware such as disk drives, keyboard, mouse, display settings, pen drive etc., that are attached to it, and sends the information to the Operating System (OS) of a computer. Motherboard is the center of coordination in a computer that unites the hardware of the system and enables communication between each other. Any upgrades that are required in a computer depends on the type of the motherboard and its inbuilt features.

What is Computer’s BIOS?

The computer’s BIOS is basically an EEPROM, which stands for Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory. EEPROM is a non-volatile memory which means that, the information which is stored can be retained later even when it is not powered. EEPROM can be modified by the user, and can be erased and reprogrammed. Most of its components are not serviceable, as it is soldered to the motherboard. The firmware i.e., the coded instruction in the BIOS can be updated or upgraded. In modern computers, it is inbuilt on a chip called CMOS, which stands for ‘complementary metal oxide semiconductor’. The common type of EEPROM is flash memory which is electrically erasable, that exists in CMOS chips. Such type of CMOS chips can be updated to a newer version. Most of the Intel Core Pentium computers and 486 PCs use CMOS chips, which can be easily updated.

Updating BIOS of Your Computer

Step #1: This is a very important step which you must know. You cannot decide on which type of update you want. Look for your system information on your computer and note the BIOS version number. There are two ways to find its version.

  1. From the system information screen of your computer, the route to view this screen is: Start → Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Information.
  2. One way is through the command prompt. Enter the command systeminfo on the run box or on the box that appears after you click on the start button.

There are various companies that manufacture the computer’s motherboard. Some of the leading motherboard companies are listed below:

  • Acer
  • Abit
  • Albatron
  • AOpen
  • Biostar
  • DFI
  • Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS)
  • First International Computer (FIC)
  • EVGA
  • Foxconn
  • Gigabyte
  • MSI
  • Intel
  • Zotac
  • Supermicro
  • Tyan

Step #2: After identifying the motherboard information and your computer’s BIOS version, go to the motherboard manufacturer’s site and check out for the BIOS update files and download the correct update file. USB thumb drives containing the required files, can also be used instead of downloading files from the Internet. For example, we will take Intel desktops, in which we have various update files such as:

  • Express BIOS
  • F7 BIOS Flash
  • iFlash BIOS
  • ISO Image BIOS
  • Recovery BIOS
  • Integrator Toolkit BIOS

Step #3: After downloading the required BIOS files, reboot the system and check whether the files are uploaded properly. Some systems automatically reboot after the download, and if your system doesn’t reboot by itself, it is advisable to restart it yourself.

  • Identify the right BIOS version number. If you are not able to find it by yourself, ask for help or directly contact the motherboard manufacturer.
  • Choose the correct BIOS update file from the motherboard manufacturer’s site.
  • If you are downloading the BIOS update file from the CD provided by your motherboard manufacturer, ensure that it is not an outdated version.
  • Properly understand the instructions given in the manufacturer’s site, before you start downloading the BIOS update files.
  • Do the update where there is an uninterrupted power supply in order to avoid failure in the updating process.

Update you computer’s BIOS only if it is necessary. It is advisable to upgrade the files using USB rather than doing it online from the Internet. By doing this, you can minimize the risk.

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Tips and Tools Computer Hardware Troubleshooting

The computer hardware includes devices, such as the mouse, keyboard, monitor, printer, scanner, etc. All are machines and are bound to face technical issues at some point or the other. However, you can perform some basic computer troubleshooting tips to make them functional. If they don’t seem to work with the troubleshooting tools, you need to send them for hardware repair. The paragraphs below offer some quick tips for the various hardware devices.

Monitor

  • If the monitor is not working, the first thing you need to do is to ensure that it has been turned on by pressing the on/off button.
  • Next, check if the cable, which connects the computer monitor and the CPU is connected properly. If not, connect it in a proper manner, or remove and plug it in again.
  • Also, make sure that the cord, which is used to power the monitor is plugged in the UPS the right way.
  • If these tactics do not work, you need to check both the cables on a different monitor, which is in a working condition.
  • If the other monitor doesn’t work with any one of the cords, that cable needs to be replaced. If the other monitor works with both cords, there is possibly a problem in your monitor.
  • You may also restart your computer and then check whether the monitor is working or not.
  • If none of these tips work out, you may have to consult a professional technician.

Keyboard

  • The keyboard is an important part of the computer, without which you cannot perform several tasks. It should be kept away from dust and dirt to ensure proper functioning.
  • If it doesn’t work, you first need to check its connection with the CPU. If the connection is fine and it still does not work, simply try to connect it to another PS/2 socket or USB port (in case of a USB keyboard).
  • In case of wireless keyboards, special drivers are needed to be installed in the computer for proper functioning. Ensure that such drivers are installed.
  • Also, make a point to check whether the drivers are updated. Hold the keyboard in an inverted manner and remove the dust or debris, which is hampering the proper working of a key or a set of keys. You can also remove dust with the help of a vacuum cleaner or an air compressor.

Mouse

  • If the cursor on the screen is not moving in a smooth manner, you need to check for dust or any residue on the trackball rollers, which enable the computer to accurately identify the movement of the mouse.
  • Remove the rear mouse cover, which will let the ball come out, clean the trackball if needed, remove the dust or residue, put the ball in again, and finally put the cover back. Check whether this works.
  • If the cursor doesn’t move at all, check whether the mouse is correctly connected to the CPU.
  • If it’s a USB mouse, try to use a different USB port.
  • There could also be the potential threat of a virus if the mouse pointer doesn’t work in an acceptable manner. If so, run an updated anti-virus software and delete the virus as soon as possible.
  • Check if the mouse drivers are corrupted, if yes, reinstall them.

Printer

  • If the printer doesn’t work, there is a possibility of a paper jam, which normally occurs if the papers are not placed in the tray in a right manner.
  • In case of bigger printers, you may need to open various printer parts to get to the place where there is a paper jam. This exclusively has to be done by a professional printer technician.
  • Don’t use tools to remove the paper jam, as some components may get damaged during the process.
  • If the printer doesn’t turn on, the power cord may be loose, and needs to be plugged in properly. The cord which connects the printer to the computer also needs to be checked.

These are some of the very common computer hardware troubleshooting steps, which can be followed before taking the PC to a professional hardware repair shop.

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Types Computer Hardware

Computer hardware consists of electronic and mechanical elements of a computer. The hardware includes the system unit which has components such as the motherboard, CPU, chipset, hard disk, RAM, video card, and sound card. The hardware also includes the peripherals that are used for input, output, and storage of data.

Different Kinds of Computer Hardware

Other than the hardware formats mentioned earlier, there are other types of computer hardware as well. For example, the CPU processes and manages information and can be called the brain of a computer. Then there is the internal bus that connects the motherboard to the video and the sound cards, and the PCI bus that connects the hardware devices to the computer. There are also the northbridge and the southbridge form the core logic chipsets, which control the exchange of information between the hard disk and the computer. The northbridge connects the southbridge to the computer, and they both determine how fast the system can access memory. The external bus is controlled by either the southbridge or the PCI bus. The chipset is used for communication between the CPU and the memory.

The RAM is the random access memory that stores and processes the information that you’re working with. The RAM is faster than the hard disk, but it is volatile, which means that it stores information temporarily and loses all information when the power is switched off. The types of RAM are SRAM and DRAM. The BIOS is the Basic Input Output System and consists of the firmware. The firewire connects a digital video camera to the computer. The SATA connects the hard disk drives to the computer, while the eSATA is external SATA.

A hard disk drive consists of platters with magnetic surfaces and it stores information which is not being processed. A hard disk is non-volatile, which means it stores information permanently and the information is not lost in times of power failure. The types of hard drives are IDE and SATA. A solid-state drive is similar to a hard drive but it is not magnetic. The removable drives include a CD-ROM drive that reads CDs; a DVD-ROM drive that reads DVDs, and a BD-ROM drive that reads a Blu-Ray disk. A CD-writer writes data on a CD and is used for the backup of files. A DVD-Writer writes on DVD, while a DVD-RAM also writes on DVD but it supports more rewrites than a DVD-Writer. A BD-Writer writes on the Blu-Ray disks. Some old computers still have a floppy disk drive that reads a floppy disk, though those computer systems are now technologically almost obsolete. A USB flash drive reads flash memory. It is small, light, pocket-sized, and portable.

The graphics card provides information to the screen, and is used to render graphics in a computer. A monitor, which may be CRT or LCD, displays the images and videos in a computer by manipulating the color of the pixels on screen.

A sound card plays sound files, produces sound for the speakers, and receives sound as an input from a microphone. The speakers output audio such as music and sound effects, and the headphones are used for hearing sounds that are only meant for individual hearing.

You can also plug-in peripherals, for example, input devices such as a keyboard or a mouse which accept user inputs and convert it into digital data. A user can type using a keyboard, which has various letter and number keys, special keys such as Esc (Escape), Ctrl (Control) and Alt (Alternate), and function keys such as F1, F2 and F3. The Caps Lock key allows the user to type capital letters, while the Tab key moves forward the cursor to the next tab stop. Shortcut keys are a combination of two keys pressed at the same time, and arrow keys on the computer keyboard serve as navigation keys. The numeric keypad of the keyboard has a layout similar to that of a calculator. When the Num Lock key is on, the keys become a numeric keypad, and when the Num Lock key is off, the keys can be used for navigation.

A mouse has a wheel and two buttons that allow you to click, double-click and drag items. When a mouse is moved on a mouse pad or any flat surface, the pointer on the screen also moves. An optical mouse is a mouse with laser of LED technology. A trackball is a device containing a ball that can be rotated in a socket. Joystick and gamepad are two of the other very popular input devices.

A desktop computer system also includes a scanner, which analyzes images, and a webcam, which provides video input. A modem sends and receives data through telephone cables and facilitates Internet access. A printer produces text or pictures on paper.

A power supply gives power to a computer from an electrical wall outlet. The PC case can be vertical or horizontal, and the cables and wires are also considered part of its hardware.

In the future, there will be quantum computers and electronic paper, used in e-book readers. The future of hardware is very promising. CPUs will get faster, hard drives will have more storage space, and computers will get more powerful. Their speed and power will revolutionize the world.