Difference between revisions of "POST Lesson"

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'''Power On, POST, and Boot Exercise''':
'''Power On, POST, and Boot Exercise''':

Revision as of 14:51, 16 April 2014


This page is being migrated to a documnent of Free Geek's Google Drive.
Once the migration is done, we will post a link to the new page.

Power On, POST, and Boot Exercise:

OBJECTIVE 1: Volunteers will be able to explain the main concepts behind Power-on, POST, and Boot-up.

OBJECTIVE 2: Volunteers will be able to access the BIOS main menu on the exercise computer.

OBJECTIVE 3: Volunteers will be able to locate the processor information on the exercise computer.

- (use dotted-blue POST chart located on the Wiki, at http://wiki.freegeek.org/index.php/POST)


- (Instructor note: this part will help to explain what the computer is doing as it starts working. Be sure that your volunteers can adequately grasp the concepts of each step)

In Getting the Processor Information you are asked a few times if the system POSTs or not. In order to answer this question, you need to know the difference between power on, POST, and boot -- the three things a computer does on startup.

Power on

   This means that the system is receiving power.  In System Evaluation, Any communication from the motherboard to 
the monitor is considered powering on. You may hear a beep, see lights come on, and/or hear a fans start spinning.


   This stands for Power On Self Test and is a basic system check that happens once the system has powered on
successfully. You will probably see a system logo (HP, Dell, Intel, etc.) followed by a lot of technical writing.


   BOOT means the computer is loading an operating system, typically off of the hard drive, but it can also boot 
from a DVD, floppy, or even a USB drive.

If you see a system trying to boot, then you know it must have POSTed.

If you see an operating system loading up (i.e. Windows, Mac, Linux), UNPLUG THE COMPUTER IMMEDIATELY. This probably means that the hard drive is still connected to the motherboard. It's extremely important to keep the information on the hard drive private.

NOTE: A system does not need to POST. We just want to try. If a system fails to POST, that is not necessarily a reason to recycle it. There are other ways to find out whether a system is a keeper or not.


(Instructor note: be sure to stress that each system's BIOS will look and act a bit different, so help prepare your volunteers for a bit of guess-and-check work. Hint: F1, F2, TAB, and DEL are common keys used to access a BIOS main page.)

BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System.

You are usually able to get into BIOS (or SETUP) during POST, even if you don't see anything useful on the monitor. While POST is happening, hit the appropriate key to enter BIOS. Which key? That depends. Sometimes the key is listed on the screen. (Pay attention as POST proceeds.) Other times you'll need to experiment. Try all the F-keys, DELETE, INSERT, and TAB, or just drag your hand across the whole keyboard.

This might take a few times to hit the right key at the right time. Try it a few times. Don't be shy. Once in BIOS, you may see what you're looking for, or you might need to change some settings. Look for an option called Quiet Boot or something similar and disable it. (Or perhaps Diagnostic Boot or BIOS Boot -- eanble that.) Also look for Quick Boot and disable it to give you time to read what's on the screen. Another thing to disable, if you see it, is Full Screen Logo.

When finished, be sure to save your changes and reboot. Then you may get the information you are looking for.

PART III – Getting the Processor Information

(Instructor Note: As an instructor, it will be your job to navigate the exercise computer and locate the processor information. Be sure to explain the steps you take in detail, and have the volunteers take note of each keystroke you make.)

In System Evaluation, you will ocassionally be asked to find the Processor information of a computer. For Free Geek's purposes, you are looking for the Processor Type and the Processor Speed. This information is most commonly found within a system's BIOS. When the system is POSTing, keep a watchful eye for any instructions on the screen about how to access the BIOS or SETUP.

Once you have accessed the BIOS, you may see the processor information right away; other times, you may have to do some searching. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through the BIOS pages.

Processor Type

There are three distinguishing features in processor type: Manufacturer, Model, and Version. First, the processor will tell you its manufacturer; Intel and AMD are most common. Processors are also given fancy names, such as Pentium, Celeron, Athlon, Xeon, Phenom, and others. These are considered the model type. Lastly, each processor should have its own version number. Some examples of this are Pentium 4, Athlon 64, and Phenom II. Be sure to note each of these three things when gathering the processor information.

Processor Speed

Speed is also an important factor for processors. It is most commonly expressed in Gigahertz (GHz) or Megahertz (MHz), and should be listed very close to the processor type. We generally see processors in the speed range of 2.8 GHz to 3.2 GHz, but they can often be lower or even higher. If you would like to translate MHz to GHz, simply move the decimal point three places to the left. For example, a processor with a speed of 3200 MHz could also be said to have a speed of 3.2 GHz.

Multi-Core Processors

An increasing number of systems have 'dual-core' or 'quad-core' processors. These CPUs are much more powerful than standard processors, and extra steps must be taken to identify them. There are several ways to identify a multi-core processor:

  • The front of the system will have a small sticker stating that it is 'dual core' or 'core 2.'
  • The BIOS will indicate 'Pentium (R) D' (for Intel CPUs).
  • The BIOS will indicate 'Athlon X2' (for AMD CPUs).
  • The BIOS will otherwise indicate 'Core 2,' 'Core 4,' 'Dual Core,' or 'Quad Core.'

Sometimes multi-core processors can have deceivingly low core speeds (1.88 GHz is a common dual-core speed). Check with your instructor if you think you may have a multi-core processor. --Walter 23:55, 20 September 2011 (UTC)