POST Lesson

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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


- (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

   is what happens when the systems first gets electricity. You may hear a beep or a fan or see the lights come on. 


   means Power On Self Test and is a basic system check that happens once the system has powered on successfully. 


   means the computer is loading an operating system, typically off of the hard drive (but it also could load the OS off of a floppy, a CD, or even over the network). 

If you see a system trying to boot, then you know it must have POSTed. This means that if you see an OS load (i.e. a system boots to Windows or Linux) then the POST was successful. Likewise, if you see a message similar to "Operating System not found" then the boot is failing, but of course this also mean that the system successfully POSTed.

NOTE: We never want to boot from an OS. We, however, do want to try to get the system to POST. 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.


(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. 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

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.

--Walter 19:43, 15 September 2011 (UTC)