Everything You Need to Know About CMOS Batteries

CMOS Batteries

If you are experiencing problems with your computer or laptop, it’s sure to be causing you no end of frustration – especially when you’re struggling to pinpoint the problem. There’s no denying that computer technology has made monumental strides over the past couple of decades, but that doesn’t mean the devices we use on a daily basis are impervious to malfunctions.

Sometimes, it can be a software issue that might prove complicated to fix. And on other occasions, the solution is a simple hardware change. When your television remote stops working, you swap out the batteries – and sometimes that’s all it takes with computers, too.

The motherboard inside most computers contains a CMOS battery, which will eventually run out of juice just like any standard AA or AAA. That could be the source of your problems, so here’s a guide to all you need to know about CMOS batteries, their function, and how you can replace them.

What is a CMOS battery?

CMOS stands for complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor. PC motherboards contain a CMOS chip, which holds certain settings and configuration data. For example, it will monitor the memory of the computer as well as keep track of the time and date. The CMOS chip will carry out these functions even when the PC is in sleep mode or turned off, but to be able to do this it requires power. That power comes from the CMOS battery, which is usually a small circular disc.

How long do CMOS batteries last?

CMOS chips require relatively low power, so the typical lifespan of a CMOS battery is likely to be around 10 years. However, that period can vary depending on the physical environment the PC is used in, as well as what it is used for.

How can you tell if a CMOS battery needs replacing?

One clear indication that your CMOS battery is failing is if your PC can no longer keep the correct time or date. Other signs may be that your computer struggles to boot up, you are unable to connect to the internet, hardware drivers such as printers or scanners have disappeared, or there is a consistent beep coming from the motherboard.

How to replace a CMOS battery?

If any or all of those signs present themselves, it’s likely that the time has come to replace your CMOS battery. The process should be relatively straightforward – once you’ve removed the casing you should be able to identify the battery as a small, round disc.

You might be able to remove it by hand, but if it’s held in place by a clip then you may need a tool to assist you. Be very careful not to damage the clip as you may subsequently find that it can no longer hold the new one in place. Once you’ve inserted the new battery, you’ll need to boot up your PC and reset the CMOS values to the default settings and save. Then, you’re good to go!

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