How to check your 3ds firmware

You probably shouldn't be updating your BIOS, but sometimes you have to. So check out which BIOS version your computer is using and flash this new BIOS version on your motherboard as quickly and safely as possible.

RELATED: Do you need to update your computer's BIOS?

Be very careful when updating your BIOS! If your computer hangs, crashes, or loses power during the process, the BIOS or UEFI firmware may be corrupted. This will stop your computer from starting - it will be "bricked up".

How to check your current BIOS version in Windows

RELATED: What is UEFI and how is it different from the BIOS?

The BIOS version of your computer is shown in the BIOS setup menu itself. However, you do not need to restart this version. There are several ways to see your BIOS version from Windows, and they will work on PCs with a traditional BIOS or newer UEFI firmware.

Check your BIOS version at the command prompt

Type "start" at the command line, type "cmd" in the search box, and click the result of the prompt. You don't have to run as an administrator.

At the command prompt, type (or copy and paste) the following command, and then press Enter:

wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion

You will see the version number of the BIOS or UEFI firmware on your current PC.

Check your BIOS version using the System Information Panel

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You can also find the BIOS version number in the System Information window. On Windows 7, 8, or 10, press Windows + R, type "msinfo32" in the Run box and press Enter.

The BIOS version number is displayed in the System Overview area. Look at the BIOS Version / Date field.

How to update your BIOS

Different motherboards use different utilities and procedures, so there are no general instructions here. However, you will be performing the same basic process on all motherboards.

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First, visit the motherboard manufacturer's website and find the downloads or support page for your specific motherboard model. You should see a list of the BIOS versions available, along with any changes / fixes in each and the date they were released. Download the version you want to upgrade to. Unless you need an older version, you'll likely want to get the latest version of the BIOS.

If you bought a pre-installed computer instead of building your own, go to the computer manufacturer's website, Computer Model, and check out the download page. There you will find all available BIOS updates.

Your BIOS download will likely come in an archive - usually a ZIP file. Extract the contents of this file. Inside you'll find some sort of BIOS file - in the screenshot below it's the E7887IMS.140 file.

The archive should also contain a README file that will guide you through upgrading to the new BIOS. You should check this file for instructions specific to your hardware, but we'll try to cover the basics here that will work on all hardware.

RELATED: What you need to know about using UEFI BIOS

You will need to choose one of several different BIOS flash tools depending on your motherboard and what it supports. The README file included with the BIOS update should recommend the ideal option for your hardware.

Some manufacturers offer a BIOS flashing option directly in their BIOS or as a special keypress option when the computer boots. You copy the BIOS file to a USB drive, restart your computer, and then enter the BIOS or UEFI screen. From there, choose the BIOS update option, select the BIOS file you placed on the USB drive, and the BIOS will update to the new version.

RELATED: What you need to know about using UEFI BIOS

You usually access the BIOS screen by pressing the appropriate key when the computer starts up. It is often displayed on the screen during the startup process and is noted in the operating instructions for your motherboard or PC. Common BIOS keys include Erase and F2. The process of entering a UEFI setup screen may be slightly different.

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There are also traditional DOS-based BIOS flash tools. Using these tools create a DOS Live USB drive and then copy the BIOS Flashing Utility and BIOS file to that USB drive. You will then restart your computer and boot from the USB drive. In the minimal DOS environment that is displayed after the restart, execute the appropriate command (e.g. flash.bat BIOS3245.bin ) and the tool displays the new BIOS version on the firmware.

The DOS-based flash tool is often provided in the BIOS archive that you download from the manufacturer's website, although you may need to download it separately. Look for a file with a .bat or .exe extension.

In the past, this was done using bootable floppy disks and CDs. We recommend a USB drive because it is probably the easiest method for modern hardware.

Some manufacturers offer Windows-based flash tools that you run on the Windows desktop to flash your BIOS and then reboot. We do not recommend using them, and even many manufacturers who provide these tools warn against using them. For example, MSI "recommends using their BIOS-based menu option instead of their Windows-based utility in the README file of the sample BIOS update we downloaded.

Flashing your BIOS in Windows can cause more problems. All software running in the background - including security programs that can interfere with writing to the computer's BIOS - can cause the process to fail and corrupt your BIOS. Any system crash or freeze can also result in a corrupt BIOS. Better to be on the safe side, so we recommend using a BIOS-based flash tool or booting into a minimal DOS environment to flash the BIOS.

That's it - after launching the BIOS flashing utility, new BIOS or UEFI firmware version will be loaded. If there is a problem with the new BIOS version, you may be able to downgrade by downloading an older version from the manufacturer's website and trying again.

Photo credit: Kal Hendry on Flickr, Robert Frelberger on Flickr

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