How to Change BIOS Settings in Windows XP

By C.D. Crowder

The Basic Input Output System, or BIOS, is completely separate from your operating system. The BIOS gives commands to the system's hardware and some communication devices. Most people tend to leave their BIOS alone and never enter the BIOS setup, but there are some settings that may need to be changed when you make changes to hardware. Changing the boot order is the most common change that users make, and some users overclock the CPU to increase computer speed. The BIOS will vary based on your motherboard, but what operating system you are running has nothing to do with its settings.

Step 1

Turn on your computer, or restart your computer if it is already running.

Step 2

Press the correct keyboard shortcut to enter your BIOS before the Windows logo appears. This key will vary depending on your computer manufacturer and BIOS. Most systems use “Esc,” “Del,” “F2” or “F1.” As your computer starts, you will see a message on the screen stating what key to use to enter the system's setup. If pressing one of those keys takes you to a boot order screen, choose “Setup” to continue to your BIOS settings. If you see the Windows logo, restart your computer and try to enter setup again.

Step 3

Use your arrow and function keys to navigate the different areas of your BIOS to change settings. The arrow keys typically change the values for each of the settings. Each BIOS will have specific instructions at the bottom and right of the screen on how to navigate. You will not be able to use your mouse, since the mouse is controlled by the operating system and your operating system is not running.

Step 4

Understand the different settings under each tab. "Main" changes the system date and time. This is different from the time listed in your notification tray. "Security" sets, clears or changes system passwords. These passwords can restrict who has access to the BIOS settings. "Advanced" changes your boot order and reserved video memory. "Tools" performs a diagnostic hard drive test.

Step 5

The BIOS will offer a procedure to restore default values. Often, pressing the “F9” key will do it, but look at the screen or menu options for the process for your BIOS.

Step 6

When you are done, you can choose the "Save and Exit" option or the "Exit Without Saving" option. When you are done your computer will continue to boot and try to load the operating system.