For most of us, and this is a fortunate happenstance to say the least, the BIOS settings on our personal computers are not something we ever have to see or deal with in a significant way. However, under certain circumstances, you may occasionally find yourself needing to access those configuration settings. Unfortunately, getting that access is not as intuitive as you might think it should be.
BIOS and UEFI
The basic input/output system (BIOS) settings, located in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware, exist outside the operating system. They allow you to configure the underlying hardware settings of your computer, including which device will be used to boot the PC and in what order they will be polled. Depending on the firmware, you may also make adjustments to how fast RAM memory will be accessed, what voltage will be sent to the CPU, and whether certain peripheral controllers will be available. In general, the default factory settings as determined by the manufacturer will suffice, but if you add new peripheral hardware, you may have to access these settings and make appropriate changes.
In years past, getting to the BIOS configuration software involved pressing a specific key on the keyboard just before the operating system started to load. With Microsoft Windows 10, the advent of UEFI Firmware, and the fast boot setting now common on many PCs, getting to the BIOS settings these days often requires a far different approach and, as you will see, it can hardly be called intuitive.
Here is how you access the BIOS settings screen if you are not given the opportunity to do so before Windows 10 starts loading.
SEE: Windows 10 spotlight: Prepare, repair, and recover (Tech Pro Research)
The first step is to navigate your way to the Recovery screen. There are a number of ways to get there, but I generally do it this way:
- Click or tap the Notification icon in the lower-right corner of the Windows 10 Desktop.
- Click the All Settings button.
- Click the Update & Security button.
- Click the Recovery menu item to reach a screen similar to Figure A.
From that screen you will want to click the Restart Now button under the Advanced Startup section. That will restart the computer and present you with a few options. Yes, you will be restarting your computer immediately, so be sure to save your work and close any running apps that need to be closed before you click that button.
Among the list of advanced options should be one that will allow you to start your computer with access to the UEFI firmware and the BIOS settings. Click that option. After the computer restarts you should find yourself looking at the configuration screen for your system's BIOS.
If you do not see the UEFI advanced option, you may still be able to access the BIOS settings the old-fashioned way using the correct key combination. The correct key or key combination varies with each manufacturer, so you'll have to figure what key it is on your own.
In general, the key or key combination that grants access to the UEFI firmware and the BIOS settings is displayed right before the operating system starts to load. Just remember you have to press that key combination before the operating system starts—so you will have to be quick. Also be sure you are looking at the primary display when trying to access the BIOS settings with the keyboard.
- Windows 10: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Windows administrator's PowerShell script kit (Tech Pro Research)
- How to revive your Windows 10 installation with System Image Recovery (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft announces new Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (but there's a catch) (Tech Republic)
What tricks do you use when configuring your Windows 10 system? Share your advice with fellow TechRepublic members.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.