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what is the BIOS?

Tony D

Free PC Help Long Term Member
Dec 30, 2007
Malvern, PA (USA)
PC Experience
Some Experience
Operating System
BIOS - literally Binary Input/Output System. OK - this is where when the computer starts, it finds what's connected - like hard drives, CD drives, etc. This information is stored in a CMOS *Complementary Metal Oxide Silicon" chip. This chip uses very low power. The storage is maintained by an internal battery. OK - I may not have the correct terms in places as I'm doing this from memory.

Check out the wikipedia def at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIOS
Oct 16, 2007
Cheshire UK
Almost correct, its basic input - output system.

Most poeple confuse the bios with the NVRAM. The NVRAM stores system settings such as the type of hard disk or the boot order. Its very low power and will keep the information for years using a button cell.

The BIOS is a bit of software on a chip, it configures the memory, sets up graphics card, tests some basic parts of the system (thats the post, as in pass the post) then loads the OS off the hard disk. It also contains the program to change the NVRAM or BIOS settings.

POST = power on self test

In the bad old days, you had to boot from a floppy disk to change the NVRAM settings !!


PS yes I am an old git and remember punch cards + 8in floppy disks.......

PPS the original IBM PC had quick basic in the bios <grin>