Into the core- Tweaking the BIOS

BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is the heart of your PC, it is where vital operation of interaction between OS and hardware takes place. Speaking in easy language, it is the blue screen that appears when you press DEL or F10 during booting windows. It performs operations like POST (Power on Self Test) and detection of hardware apart from checking for any bootable media, before giving control to windows. BIOS can be used to tweak windows at low level, changing attributes of hardware. We now learn a few tricks of trade to make most of the BIOS.

Boot device priority: By default, the first boot device is floppy disk, second is CD/DVD drive and the third is HDD. During normal usage, when we aren’t booting from secondary devices, this booting sequence causes delay in boot time (i.e. time taken by windows to start). Hence, it is wise to set HDD to first boot device and set rest to OFF. This saves lot of time in booting.

NOTE: When you are reinstalling OS, you need to set first boot device to CD/DVD drive to boot from optical media, lest I doesn’t get detected.

Changing shared memory: Motherboards with on board shared graphics share graphic memory from physical memory (RAM). If you don’t have a graphic card, but substantial RAM, you can check if there is chance to increase this shared memory in Advanced BIOS feature and increase it. Keep in mind that this memory isn’t available for usual purposes and is deducted from physical memory. On other hand, if you have a graphic card installed, or have less RAM, you can reduce this memory to improve performance.

CPU thermal monitor: This feature available in newer motherboards automatically controls CPU clock and fan speeds to ensure that processor works under desired safe temperature range. The CPU multiplier is also reduced simultaneously to ensure less heating and lower power consumption.

CPU temperature control: This feature makes the PC reboot when ever processor crosses the set temperature value. This reduces the chance of damage due to thermal overheating.

Note: Setting this value of temperature too low causes PC to reboot every time there is an increase in temperature due to heavy loads.

Delay for HDD detection: When we attach new or extra hard disk, this delay waits for detection of new hardware. But in normal operations, it is better to set it to zero, ensuring fast booting.

Auto power ON: This feature allows auto power on of your PC at specified date and time. Also features are available that lets you start PC on click of a key or shake of your mouse. Unlike stand by, here PC starts from OFF mode to ON. Response of PC when pressing power button can also be altered in BIOS.

Turn OFF unused features: Newer motherboards have many features that aren’t used usually. Like if you use PATA and SATA is enabled, turn it off. Same follows for RAID and SMART capabilities.

Boot initialization: When you use a graphic card inserted in PCI-Ex slot, set first boot initialization to PCI-Ex, not AGP. The opposite is to be followed when you use a AGP graphic card. This saves RAM from onboard IGP.

Enable DMA: In “advanced” tab, confirm that your hard drive and optical drive are working in DMA mode. Enabling DMA mode improves performance by reducing load on processor during data transfers

Over clocking: As discussed in previous post, over clocking is done in BIOS. Read the previous post for further details.

Having tweaked all the settings, save the new profile and reboot. Observe the difference!!

Tip: When drives don’t get opened on double clicking, it means that you have an infection in your PC. Follow this procedure to solve the problem-

  1. Check if task manager is enabled. If not, use processes explorer from sis internals suit to see the running processes. Ensure that you aren’t running any other process. The one using maximum CPU usage (50 to 100 % usage, consistently) and running under explorer.exe is the virus. Double click on the process and see the location where from it is executing. Usually it runs from c:\windows\system32.

(Viruses usually have names like regsvr.exe, New folder.exe or the new nasty form of New folder.exe, KHATARNAK.exe!!)

  1. Run kill box and paste the location in the file to delete tab. Tick end explorer shell while killing option. Kill and delete the file. Check the process explorer for emergence of the same process from another location, c:\windows this time. Follow the same steps and delete that file too. Now go to search and type the name of the infected file again. In advance search options, enable search hidden and system files. Scan the whole PC and delete the files found.
  2. Delete all previous restore points that may have been made earlier since they may contain the virus.
  3. The viruses of this kind usually disable RUN, FOLDER OPTIONS and TASK MANAGER. Registry editor is also disabled. Even though the infected file is deleted, the changes in registry remain unchanged. Download the default registry entries and restore the defaults.
  4. Go to TOOLS\FOLDER OPTION\VIEW and enable show hidden files and folders, and un-tick show extension of known file types and hide operating system files. Get inside a drive and delete the hidden file autorun.inf which has been left by the virus. Similarly delete the file in all drives.
  5. Go to run and type %temp%. Enter. In this directory, delete all files. Similarly type temp and delete all files in that directory too.
  6. Go to RUN and enter MSCONFIG. In startup tab, disable any suspicious entries or if you cant make out anything, disable all. Save and exit.

Reboot the system and verify all is working fine. Install a latest anti virus and update it to ensure no future inconvenience.