How to Reset Your CMOS and Why You Might Need To

How To Reset Your Cmos And Why You Might Have To Featured

Though rare, you may sometimes need to reset your CMOS. The CMOS, also known as the Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor, is a small chunk of memory used to store your computer’s BIOS or UEFI configuration. This configuration controls what your computer does on boot.

If you’ve mangled your BIOS with a failed overclocking setup, changed the wrong BIOS settings, or your machine won’t boot properly, returning the BIOS or UEFI to the factory defaults can often set things right. Occasionally, even a virus can corrupt your BIOS. You will lose any custom BIOS configurations during a reset, but those can typically be easily reset. If you have an especially complicated setup, you can often back up your working UEFI settings and restore later. You might not have one now, but it’s a good procedure for the future.

If you’ve built your own computer, it should be easy to reset your CMOS. Pre-built systems might be a little more picky, but you can normally make one of the methods below work for you.

Note: for the sake of brevity and recognition, we will use the term “BIOS” below to refer to UEFI and BIOS firmware.

Resetting Your CMOS with a Case Button

If you see a button on your computer’s case labelled “Clear” or “Reset,” that will reset your CMOS. This is the easiest method, but not applicable to all computers.

1. Turn off your computer.

2. Disconnect your computer from the wall outlet. You can unplug the power from the back of your power supply or from the wall outlet.

3. Locate the case button labelled “Clear” or “Reset.” It’s typically next to or near the power button.

cmos-reset-case-reset-button

4. Hold the “Clear” or “Reset” button down for five to ten seconds, then release it. You may need to use the end of a pen to hold down the button if it’s small.

5. Reconnect your computer to power and reboot.

6. Press the correct key to enter your BIOS options. Depending on your motherboard, it can be the ., Delete, F2, F8 or F12. Different computer makers use different keys, or you can set Windows 10 to boot into your BIOS for you.

7. Adjust your BIOS options as necessary. Some motherboards have the option to load “optimized defaults,” which are a great starting point.

Resetting Your CMOS with a Motherboard Button

Some higher-end motherboards have a board-mounted button to reset the CMOS. This can be accessed by opening the computer case and locating the button within the case. It will typically be labelled something like “CLR,” “CLEAR” or “RESET.”

1. Turn off your computer.

2. Disconnect your computer from the wall outlet. You can unplug the power from the back of your power supply or from the wall outlet.

3. Press the case’s power button multiple times to discharge any motherboard capacitors.

4. Locate the correct button on your motherboard. If you’re not sure where to find it, look at your motherboard’s manual. You can find these on your motherboard manufacturer’s or computer manufacturer’s website.

cmos-reset-motherboard-button

5. Press and hold the button for five to ten seconds with your finger or the eraser end of a pencil. If you use your finger, make sure to ground yourself by tapping a bare metal surface (doorknobs are great) before touching anything inside your computer.

6. Reconnect your computer to power and reboot.

7. Press the correct key to enter your BIOS options.

8. Adjust your BIOS options as necessary.

Reset Your CMOS by Reseating the CMOS Battery

If you have no other way to reset your CMOS, you can erase saved settings by removing the CMOS battery. This battery allows the volatile CMOS memory to stay powered even when the computer is disconnected from an outlet. By removing and replacing the battery, you’ll erase the CMOS, forcing a reset.

1. Turn off your computer.

2. Disconnect your computer from the wall outlet.

3. Press the power button multiple times to clear any capacitors.

4. Find the CMOS battery on your motherboard. This is most commonly a CR2032 battery, a coin-sized battery as shown below. You’ll find it near the PCI Express slots on most motherboards. Consult your motherboard’s manual for its exact location.

reset-cmos-battery-1

5. Gently remove the CMOS battery. If it is secured by a metal clip, slide the battery out from under the clip. Take care not to bend the clip.

6. Wait a few minutes, then replace the CMOS battery.

7. Reboot your computer.

Reset Your CMOS with the Motherboard Jumper

By manually adjusting the right jumper, you can trigger the CMOS clearing function.

1. Turn off your computer.

2. Disconnect your computer from the wall outlet.

3. Press the power button multiple times to clear any capacitors.

4. Open your computer case and locate the CMOS clearing pins. It will typically be a two- or three-pin configuration mounted on the motherboard labelled “CLEAR,” “RESET,” or even “CLRPWD” for “clear password.”

cmos-reset-jumper-reset-bios
Image credit: Toniperis (Own work)

5. On a three-pin configuration with a shared middle pin, move the plastic jumper over to connect the middle pin and the previously disconnected pin. For a two-pin configuration, remove the jumper completely.

6. Wait a few minutes, then return the jumper to its original configuration.

7. Reboot your computer.

You will be able to reset your CMOS using any of the above methods. Let us know if it is working for you. Once everything’s working, take the time to optimize your BIOS settings.

Crystal Crowder Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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