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BIOS settings are some of the most arcane and poorly documented aspects of PC hardware. Most of us never touch them -- or, when we do, it's only under the explicit direction of the manufacturer or a guru who knows more than we do about what all those cryptic-sounding options mean.
To help offset this problem, the Rojakpot.com Web site (by Adrian Wong, author of Breaking Through the BIOS Barrier) now sports a feature it proudly describes as The Definitive BIOS Optimization Guide, a continually revised index of BIOS settings and their meanings.
Since no two BIOSes organize things the same way, the guide divides its listings into several categories: bootstrap management, graphics subsystem, memory subsystem, processor, storage, system bus, system resource management and miscellaneous.
When you click on a particular BIOS setting from the guide's main menu, up comes a detailed breakdown of the setting in question: its common settable options (such as enabled/disabled); a quick overview of the meaning of the setting; what each available option will do to or for the computer if you select it and the recommended setting for the option based on a particular user's need. For instance, the explanation of the "IDE Bus Master Support" option mentions that enabling this option will provide faster disk transfer speeds for 16-bit systems (such as the Windows boot manager or DOS-based disk utilities like Norton Ghost).
The site has a subscribers-only area, in which there are more detailed and highly technical descriptions of each BIOS option. Subscribers can place research requests for specific options, and the site's team reports back on its findings. In addition, subscribers receive e-mail notifications about new or revised entries in the guide.
Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users
Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network
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This was first published in September 2005