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The term BIOS stands for Basic Input Output System. It has been an integral component of a computer and it does much more than what its name suggests. BIOS helps to control input and output system and it is crucial for the proper working of an operating system. In fact, it is so vital that without BIOS the operating system would not be able to load and not a single program will run – no Word, no Excel, no Millionaire Blueprint.

What is BIOS?

The computer consists of software and they can be categorised as high, mid or low level. Programs such as the browser, media player etc. interact with the operating system and they are considered high level software. The operating system is considered a mid-level software as it uses BIOS and different drivers to interact with the various hardware components. BIOS is a low-level software as it is used to control the functioning of the hardware components.

BIOS is the first software that runs when you switch on your computer and helps the computer to perform certain functions during the start-up process. Its most important function is to control the initial part of the start-upprocess and make sure that the operating system is loaded into the memory correctly. You would need the BIOS Setup Utility to access and configure BIOS.

Main functions of BIOS and when it is used:

POST:

The Power On Self Test or POST is the primary job of the BIOS on switching on the computer. During this test, BIOS will check the hardware of the computer so see that start up process has been completed correctly. Usually if the test is successful, there is a beep to indicate that it was completed properly. There may be a series of beeps that are used to indicate that thetest has failed.

Bootstrap loader:

After the POST has been completed successfully, the BIOS tries to load the operating system. The process which has been designed to search for any operating system is called a bootstrap loader. If a valid operating system is found, BIOS loads it into the memory and passes the control to it.

BIOS drivers are programs that enable the computer to have basic control over hardware devices like the keyboard, mouse or a storage device. The BIOS drivers are loaded at this point.

Hardware:

BIOS software is located on a small Read-Only Memory chip on the computer’s motherboard. Since it is the first software to load when the computer starts, the location of the BIOS software on the chip is extremely important. The boot process would not take place if it is not located at the same place as the microprocessor would not be able to locate it otherwise.

An important feature of BIOS is that it is not dependent on any of the operating systems. BIOS is a component of the motherboard hardware and all the modern motherboards contain this software. Since BIOS operates outside of the operating system, it is independent of it. Hence it does not matter whether you are using Windows, Linux, Unix or any other operating system.

BIOS is an essential part of any device or computer. Having a good knowledge about its various functions can help users such as information technology professionals to make the most of it. Even if you are someone who uses the computer for basic operations, the default settings of BIOS will fit your needs. BIOS gives you great flexibility and performance.

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