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Windows Administrivia: The Case of the Missing BIOS Access

As is often the case on a holiday weekend, I like to tinker with my PCs. This Thanksgiving weekend, I found myself wanting to access the BIOS on my production PC with its Gigabyte X77X-UD3H motherboard. But instead of switching over to the BIOS when I struck the DEL key during pre-Windows startup, the system stubbornly persisted in ignoring that input and booting into Windows nevertheless.

As it turns out, something about my Comfort Curve 4000 keyboard was preventing me from accessing the BIOS during boot-up.

Some quick online research was in order, and by searching on “unable to access BIOS” and the motherboard ID, I quickly learned that one or two factors were the most likely culprits:
1. The USB port I was using for the keyboard was not being read during boot-up
2. The keyboard I was using was too slow to get the keypress data to the UEFI shell during initial boot-up
I’m still not entirely sure which of those two causes was at fault, because I simply plugged a different keyboard into one of the front-panel USB 2.0 ports for this PC, knowing that the back-panel USB 3 stuff could easily be coming from an add-on card, and it being too much of a PITA to pull the machine all the way out of the baker’s rack in which it sits to check out that possibility.

At any rate, the new keyboard/front panel USB connection did the trick, and on the next reboot I was able to access my BIOS settings with no further difficulties, though I did also have to switch the Logitech wireless receiver that talks to my M325 mouse to a front-panel USB port for it to be recognized as well. Temporary set-up now working, I made the changes I needed to make to the BIOS, and happily reverted back to the old configuration on the next restart. My current favorite keyboard is a Microsoft Comfort Curve 4000, and the mouse usually plugs into a USB 3.0 port on the PC’s back panel right next to the port where that keyboard plugs in. The old set-up still works just fine — as long as I don’t need to access that PC’s BIOS.

It’s funny how PCs have their little quirks and foibles, and even funnier that Windows or the hardware has a way of reminding us of such things from time to time. Lessons now learned about troubleshooting “unable to access BIOS” for this machine, it’s back to post-holiday work for me!