How to check your BIOS version and update it

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You probably shouldn’t update your BIOS, but sometimes it’s necessary. Here’s how to check what version of BIOS your computer is using and update that new version of BIOS on your motherboard as quickly and safely as possible.

RELATED: Do you need to update the BIOS of your computer?

Be very careful when updating your motherboard BIOS! If your computer freezes, crashes, or loses power during the process, the BIOS or UEFI firmware may be corrupted. This will make your computer unable to boot, it will be “locked up”.

How to check the current version of your BIOS in Windows

Your computer’s BIOS version is displayed in the BIOS setup menu, but you do not have to reboot to check this version number. There are several ways to view your BIOS version from within Windows, and they work the same on PCs with a traditional BIOS or newer UEFI firmware.

RELATED: What is UEFI and how is it different from BIOS?

Check your BIOS version at the command prompt

To check your BIOS version from the command prompt, press Start, type “cmd” in the search box, and then click the “Command Prompt” result. No need to run it as administrator.

When prompted, type (or copy and paste) the following command and then press Enter:

wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion

You will see the version number of the BIOS or UEFI firmware on your current PC.

Command prompt with BIOS version displayed.

Check your BIOS version using the system information panel

RELATED: How to open the system information panel in Windows 10 or 8

You can also find your BIOS version number in the System Information window. In Windows 7, 8, or 10, press Windows + R, type “msinfo32” in the Run box, and then press Enter.

The BIOS version number is displayed on the System Summary panel. Look at the “BIOS Version/Date” field.

The System Information window shows the BIOS version near the top.

How to update your BIOS

Different motherboards use different utilities and procedures, so there is no one set of instructions for everyone here. However, it will perform the same basic process on all motherboards.

RELATED: How to check your motherboard model number on your Windows PC

First, go to your motherboard manufacturer’s website and find the Downloads or Support page for your specific motherboard model. You should see a list of available BIOS versions, along with the changes/bug fixes in each and the dates they were released. Download the version you want to update to. You’ll probably want to get the latest BIOS version unless you have a specific need for an older one.

The Gigabyte BIOS update download page.

If you bought a pre-built computer instead of building your own, go to the computer manufacturer’s website, search for the model of the computer, and look at their download page. There you will find the available BIOS updates.

Dell BIOS driver page for an Inspiron laptop.

Your BIOS download probably comes in one file, usually a ZIP file. Extract the contents of that file. Inside, you’ll find some kind of BIOS file – in the screenshot below, it’s the E7D14AMS.291 file.

The file may also contain a README or other text file that will guide you through updating to the new BIOS. You should refer to this file for instructions that apply specifically to your hardware, but we’ll try to cover the basics that work on all hardware here.

An open MSI BIOS update in 7-Zip.

RELATED: What you need to know about using UEFI instead of BIOS

You’ll need to choose one of several different types of BIOS update tools, depending on your motherboard and what it supports. The README file included with the BIOS update should recommend the ideal option for your hardware.

Some manufacturers offer a BIOS flashing option directly in their BIOS, or as a special keypress option when starting up the computer. Copy the BIOS file to a USB drive, restart your computer, and then enter the BIOS or UEFI screen. From there, choose the BIOS update option, select the BIOS file you placed on the USB drive, and the BIOS updates to the new version.

RELATED: What you need to know about using UEFI instead of BIOS

Typically, you access the BIOS screen by pressing the BIOS key while your computer is booting; it is often displayed on the screen during the boot process and will be indicated in the motherboard or PC manual. Common BIOS keys include Delete and F2. The process for entering a UEFI setup screen may be slightly different.

Asus UEFI BIOS Utility
ASUS

There are also more traditional DOS-based BIOS flashing tools. Using those tools, it creates a live DOS USB drive and then copies the BIOS update utility and BIOS file to that USB drive. Then you restart your computer and boot from the USB drive. In the minimal DOS environment that appears after reboot, run the appropriate command, often something like flash.bat BIOS3245.bin – and the tool shows the new BIOS version in the firmware.

RELATED: How to Create a Bootable DOS USB Drive

The DOS-based update tool is often provided in the BIOS file that you download from the manufacturer’s website, although you may need to download it separately. Look for a file with the .bat or .exe file extension.

In the past, this process was done with bootable floppies and CDs. We recommend a USB drive because it’s the easiest method on modern hardware – many modern computers no longer have CD or DVD drives.

A legacy DOS-style BIOS updater on a bootable USB drive in Windows 7.

Some manufacturers provide Windows-based update tools, which run on the Windows desktop to update your BIOS and then reboot. We do not recommend their use, and even many manufacturers that provide these tools warn that they should not be used. For example, MSI “strongly recommends” using their BIOS-based menu option instead of their Windows-based utility in the sample BIOS update README file we downloaded.

Updating your BIOS from Windows can cause more problems. All that software running in the background, including security programs that can interfere with writing to the computer’s BIOS, can cause the process to fail and damage your BIOS. Any system crashes or freezes can also result in a corrupt BIOS. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so we recommend using a BIOS-based update tool or booting into a minimal DOS environment to update your BIOS.

MSI Windows BIOS update utility.

That’s it – after running the BIOS update utility, restart your computer and the new version of the BIOS or UEFI firmware will load. If there is a problem with the new BIOS version, you may be able to downgrade it by downloading an older version from the manufacturer’s website and repeating the update process.