Monday, June 16, 2008

Computer Problem Solving - BIOS

Every time I shut down my computer it loses date, time, and other BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) settings.

Motherboards use a small battery that provides just enough power to retain hardware configuration data, as well as the date and time. In older PCs this battery is actually soldered to the motherboard and is difficult to replace without expert assistance. Many newer motherboards use a small battery that looks much like the ones you’d find in a calculator or watch, and if you research the specifications on your motherboard, you can determine the battery model and find a replacement. You may have to open your PC to find out what kind of battery your mother- board uses. You can open the case and look at the motherboard battery after you follow a few basic safety precautions, which you’ll want to use every time you open your computer. Disconnect the power cable and then move the computer to an area where you can work comfortably. Remove the case, and before you go poking around in- side, touch a doorknob or other grounded metal to prevent static electricity discharge, which can render your PC’s sensitive parts useless. Locating the battery is easy. Most batteries are about the size of a nickel, and you will see a plus sign (+) facing you. Different motherboards use different types of retaining clips, but these are pretty basic. Just undo the clip, remove the old battery, and pop in the new one. Replace the case, reconnect the power cable, and start up your PC. Motherboards respond differently to the battery replacement procedure. In some cases your PC may start up normally, but there’s also a chance that your computer will indicate that set- tings have changed and then load the BIOS menu. You may have to set some basic information in this menu and save your changes. Then exit the menu, and your PC should start up with no problems. To set the date and time in Windows, double-click the clock on the lower right of your screen.

My PC’s hard drive isn’t working properly. Can I fix it through BIOS?

You will not be able to repair a damaged or defective hard drive in your system’s BIOS, but you may be able to correct problems that prevent a hard drive from working properly in your computer. Today’s hard drives have capacities that were almost unimaginable a decade ago. With this rapid expansion in storage real estate, a few problems have tagged along, as well. If you have an older motherboard and, thus, an older set of BIOS instructions, you may encounter difficulty using today’s monster drives. They can fail to work at all; they may work but generate errors; or they may work but report an incorrect size in Windows or other operating systems. Here are some troubleshooting steps to follow when encountering hard drive woes: Go into your PC’s BIOS and find the Auto detect Hard Drive feature. Run the procedure. If Auto detect fails to properly identify the hard drive, find the hard drive’s BIOS entry, set its type to Manual, and manually enter the CHS (Cylinder-Heads-Sectors) settings from the hard drive’s label or the hard drive manufacturer’s Web site. Set the LBA (Logical Block Ad- dressing) setting to Auto. Most retail hard drives come with an installation disk. If the other steps have failed, use the disk.

Update your system’s BIOS to a newer version. Install a third-party hard drive controller that is compatible with the hard drive. Some hard drives come with a free controller card as part of a package deal. Look for a bundle like this to save cash and to ensure compatibility between hard drive and controller.