TechSpot

bios update gone disastrously wrong

By chunkstyle
Apr 17, 2007
  1. hi --

    i'm trying to fix my parents' pc (a gateway 507gr) which has been really unstable & unreliable for a few months. windows wouldn't boot properly, windows reinstalls wouldn't work. it'd boot into the bios ok, but that was about it.

    in desperation yesterday, i decided to upgrade the bios, hoping to have a good foundation for reinstalling other stuff. i downloaded the files from intel's site (the board's a d915gag, with a p4 processor with hyperthreading), and did exactly what it said. now things are far worse than before.

    intel gave several sets of directions for flashing the bios. the least invasive was to make a cd with this bootable .iso file, put it in the cd drive of the target pc, and boot it up. it did boot under that scenario, but instead of anything resembling the screenshots they showed in the instructions, it said something about the old bios id number, the new bios having a different number, and trying to install it, and then it went immediately to a c: prompt. for a few moments, the pc made these really quiet noises -- not hd sounds, but something somewhat similar (almost like sci-fi "electronic" sounds), but nothing ever happened. it wouldn't even boot into the bios after that.

    another method intel gave for flashing was to download & copy this .bio file to a cd, put in into the drive of the target machine, and boot it up with the bios configuration jumper off, to force it into recovery mode. it was odd that the instructions didn't say anything at all about the cd needing to be bootable in this case. this didn't work at all, and all the computer displays at this point is either the "gateway" splash screen and then another, completely blank screen, or else it shows only the "no signal" monitor icon.

    the power button on the front of the case doesn't work now, either. turning it on & off is now just by plugging/pulling the cord in back.

    can it be recovered from this, or is this pc utterly ruined? their instructions were, apparently, awful.

    this pc has no floppy drive, and now there's no os, no bios, and i have no idea what else to do.

    i'd appreciate any help anyone could offer. thanks.
     
  2. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 3,556

    Sorry to hear about this. I don't usually recommend services, but this site is representative of a service you should/could check out (Google 'replacement bios chip');

    http://www.biosman.com/about_biosman.html

    Of course, you could contact Gateway for a new chip.


    :)
     
  3. chunkstyle

    chunkstyle TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    per someone's advice about a last-ditch-effort, i removed the cmos battery, let it sit for a while, and replaced it. amazingly enough, when i started it up afterward, it beeped and the screen came up with "press f4 to enter bios setup."
    so i did that, and the regular bios setup screen appeared, and i was able to navigate around it as normal. the bios version that it listed is "ev91510a.15a.0123". i don't know if that's the regular stock bios or one of them that i had abortively (and stupidly) tried to change.

    the first time it started back up like this, i told it to restore the default settings, figuring that was the safest way to start. then i hit f10 to save & exit. after that, things got a bit weird --
    the gateway splash screen comes up, and then just a blank screen. within a few seconds after that, it apparently tries to reboot, but no screen comes up again offering the bios setup -- it just goes right to the splash screen and then a blank screen again. this behavior repeats until i shut it off.

    i've taken the battery out, let it sit, and replaced it 4 or 5 times now, and the behavior is the same each time. i tested the battery, and it seemed good, if it matters.

    i've also noticed that, after i replace the battery & while starting it up the first time after that, the power button on the front doesn't do anything (it just starts right up when i plug the cord into the back), as if the software control for the button is inactive at that point.

    and it doesn't seem to be saving the settings when i save & exit. the clock time is off each time, and the bios setup is offered only on the first startup after replacing the battery.

    also, for what it's worth, i think it's beeping twice just before it offers the bios setup.

    the first few times of this, i had my win xp cd still in the drive, and after exiting the bios setup, a screen would come up saying "press any key to boot from cd," as if it recognized the presence of the disc. i'd do that, and then that first screen in windows setup, about it "inspecting your system's hardware configuration," would appear. then it'd stop -- no hd activity, no sounds, and that screen would just stay on.

    any idea what this all means? is there hope for it?
     
  4. beef_jerky4104

    beef_jerky4104 Banned Posts: 1,094

    You may have to ship it back to the manufacture.
     
  5. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,074   +13

    HOW to FLASH/ UPDATE BIOS

    Flashing a BIOS simply means updating the BIOS. The rule of thumb with updating BIOS is "if it ain't broke - don't fix it." This is because if a BIOS update is incorrect or not done right, you essentially have an expensive paperweight. BIOS stands for Basic Input Operating System. It is a program "burned" into an EPROM - an Eraseable Programmable Read Only Memory chip on your motherboard. The EPROM is a computer chip which contains simple instructions required for the most basic of computing functions - it tells your motherboard how to boot, self-checking functions, and hardware default settings among other things. Motherboards may vary slightly in updating procedures, but not by a whole lot. Generally, you will be using a floppy drive. Yes- remember that old floppy drive? (A real floppy - not a USB type.) You're gonna need one. While BIOS flashing can be done with CD ROMs on some newer motherboards, this is not recommended. This is because BIOS updating works at the core level of computing functions. ALL Intel based computers (this includes AMD) have the ancient 8088 microprocessor architecture at their very inner core in order to perform BIOS functions. Whether the chip is dual-core, AMD, 486, Pentium-D, Athlon XP, 64, etc... it does not matter... at their most inner recess, they have this function. What you are attempting to do is essentially a "brain-swap." BIOS updating SHOULD ONLY BE DONE if there is an issue with your CPU or if a motherboard has difficulty with hardware and it is a known BIOS issue. Check your motherboard manufactuer to see if you need one.
    BIOS updating is a methodical, precise and slow procedure. If you do not have patience or you are unsure what you are attempting to do, then DO NOT do it yourself.

    How to obtain a BIOS update
    First, you would need to find out the make and model of your main board (motherboard). The next step would be to visit the manufacturer's web site and try to find a page that has something to do with downloading, motherboards, support, or anything that will inevitably lead you to a BIOS update (if available).
    Once you have downloaded the correct BIOS file for your main board, view any specific instructions about flashing the BIOS. This is usually contained in the downloaded archive, or online the manufacturer's site.
    Backup the BIOS first!
    Before you update, ALWAYS back up your old BIOS first. Most BIOS programs will ask you to save a copy of the current BIOS. Always save it in case your flash fails, you can attempt to re-flash using the old BIOS while your computer is still turned on. Once you turn off your computer with a failed flash, you're jacked - time for a new motherboard.
    Begin by creating a windows bootable floppy disk. Then save your old BIOS onto that floppy. Make a note of the old file name. Use a fresh floppy disk. Old floppies laying around have a high failure rate and you don't want one to fail when updating. Murphey's law baby! Also ensure you have good, clean power - preferably have your system on an Uninteruptable Power Supply (UPS). Any power failure will also the flash to fail.
    If this happens, attempt to reload the old BIOS *before* you turn off your computer. If the computer is powered down after a failed flash (due to power outage / hardware failure / corrupt BIOS*), there is a good chance your computer may never boot again -- at least, until it is repaired by the manufacturer.
    Upload the New BIOS
    After you have obtained the new BIOS file, SAVE it to the bootable floppy disk you created. Note the NEW file name.
    Now boot the computer with the bootable floppy. Run the DOS file that loads the new file. It will ask you for the name of the new BIOS. Enter that name. You may have to do this as a command at the DOS prompt. Programs vary. Again check the manufactuer's instructions.
    Typically, BIOS flashers only work under DOS and generally work like this:
    DOSprompt:\> biosflasher.exe biosfilename.xxx
    For example:
    A:\>biosflash.exe NEWBIOS.dat
    NOW BE PATIENT. This can take a minute or two. Ensure it completes. DO NOT POWER off the computer until it says complete or it is done. Once everything is complete, then you can reboot the system without the floppy. Cross fingers and everything should come up ok. You may have to also update other drivers and software as necessary. Again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    __________________
     
  6. bappers

    bappers TS Rookie

    that was good advice, i also tried taking the cmos battery out and it worked for me, thanx mate
     
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,074   +13

    I always try to help.....
     
  8. chunkstyle

    chunkstyle TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    thanks for the guide, tedster. could you please answer these questions about the guide?

    here goes:

    1. after booting up the pc in dos, how do i find the old bios file, in order to back it up? it resides on an eprom, doesn't it? how do you search for that when it's not really on a drive that you can do a .dir of? does the flash utility prompt you to back it up & then locate the old bios for you?

    2. i downloaded & extracted these files from gateway's site:

    readme

    a90816p.bio (705kb)

    iflash (an application) (244kb)

    a90816.itk (94kb)

    a991510j.15a.0816.eb (doesn't say what type of file it is, but it is from intel)
    (1.98mb)

    i understand that the .bio file is probably the new bios, and that iflash is probably the flash utility, and the readme is self-explanatory, but what are the other 2 files? the intel thing wouldn't fit on a floppy anyway. the readme only gives information about flashing the bios from within windows, using the "run" command.

    the application i downloaded from gateway extracted all the files to a cabs folder it made on my c: drive, if cabs are relevant (don't really know what they are).

    is the thing to do to type "a: iflash.exe" while in dos?

    3. when i make a bootable floppy (never done it before), will the dos files fit within the .4-.5 +/- mb of space i'll have left on the disk after the new bios & the installer are on it?

    thanks.

    sorry for being such a newbie about this stuff.
     
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    Ignore this post, I didn't read enough of the original

    When you said you "replaced" the battery, I interpreted that as, you took the battery out, and put the same one back in. One of the symptoms of a dead system battery is not being able to hold the correct time, I think.
     
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    Question.....?

    Sometimes a battery can check good yet not operate correctly under load. How old is the PC? I'm not touting this as a solution, but it is the least expensive variable in this equation. Nero burning ROM (that specific program in the full retail suite) is capable of creating bootable CDs.

    The number in question; a991510j.15a.0816.eb (doesn't say what type of file it is, but it is from intel) is the BIOS version.The last four digits denote which update you have. In this case 0816.
     
  11. chunkstyle

    chunkstyle TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    no -- i didn't actually replace the battery with a new one. the pc (and the battery) were bought new in june '05. the cmos has been keeping time recently.

    i checked the properties of that intel file, and all it says regarding the file type is "application." i'm guessing that it may be the bios update utility if you're running it from within windows (??). i'm hoping to create a boot floppy (i've got an old floppy drive temporarily connected to the system) with that iflash application and the .bio file on it, and then just run the iflash from within dos.

    don't know if that'd work right or not, since i don't know much about what those other 2 files are. plus, i'm a lame newbie.
     
     
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    Frirst......

    Here's the Intel BIOS download page for your board...... http://downloadfinder.intel.com/scr...672&OSFullName=&lang=eng&strOSs=45&submit=Go! The read me files will familiarize you with the different update methods. match the file numbers with the ones you got from Gateway, so as to be certain that Gateway hasn't installed a Proprietary BIOS in your machine. This may answer some of your questions, if not we'll try again.
     
  13. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,423   +7

    Saveing current bios

    My asus "Manual" (You really need one for this kind of stuff)
    It explains how to save the current bios to a floppy before updateing.
    This will restore it if the update messes things up as it seems it has.
    It seems too late for this time.
    Write Intel a Support Request.
    And read your Motherboard Manual about doing this first.
    Or Download a pdf version.
    My manual is very clear and easy to understand.
    :grinthumb
     
  14. chunkstyle

    chunkstyle TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    thanks for the replies. the bios that's installed now is the ev.91510.15a.0123 -- similar in name to the ev91510a.86a that was in the link you provided, but not exact. i had tried updating the bios a few weeks ago, and thought it failed, but i might have actually succeeded in installing an update, but possibly not the right one.

    the confusing thing with all this is that the board's made by intel, but is also an oem for gateway. on gateway's site, they have a different bios listed for this board, which also goes by the nickname "augsburg."


    http://support.gateway.com/support/drivers/getFile.asp?id=20120&uid=157951769

    i'm not really sure which one is right for this board (i'd assume probably the gateway one). this gateway download is where i extracted that a90816p.bio file mentioned in one of my previous posts.

    i did create a boot floppy and a separate floppy with the bios & installer from gateway & got iflash to run -- it gave me a message saying it had successfully prepared to load the new bios, but i chickened out & cancelled before flashing, because it gave me no option for saving the old one, which i'd hoped it would. i looked at the intel tech manual for the d915gag, and it said nothing about how to save the old bios. it did mention this "intel flash memory update utility", but i doubted that'd be useful because this gateway bios came bundled with iflash as its installer, and not the intel utility.

    can you make a recommendation about whether to go with this gateway bios mentioned in the above link? and is there some other way to save a copy of the old bios?

    thank you!
     
  15. zipperman

    zipperman TS Rookie Posts: 1,423   +7

    AIDA32 will give you details about your motherboard and bios.But you have to run it on the problem PC.Can you do this.
    I don't have a link but google should get you there.It's free.
     
  16. chunkstyle

    chunkstyle TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    i've got aida32 on my own pc's, but this one doesn't even have an os installed currently, and so can't run it.

    i was thinking that maybe i should download that intel flash utility, and try to use it to copy the existing bios, but not to install the gateway one (assuming that this gateway bios is the way to go).

    any other ideas for copying the old bios?
     
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    The Download Page.........

    I have an Emachines (Gateway) with this exact board in it. In my all programs list they call the PDF MANUAL for the board "Augsburg". I've been a bit baffled by that myself. On Intel's download page you might be able to go back through the older ones, until possibly you can match the numbers. They normally keep all the versions, not just the latest. More than likely the BIOS that shipped with the box is not the final version.

    Page 75 of the "Augsburg" describes the jumper block of this board. There is a recovery position. The read gets better from there.
     
  18. stelch

    stelch TS Rookie Posts: 63

    Hi Tedster,

    When I updated my bios it was just an exe file I downloaded from Intel site, double click on it and all was done. No floppy disks or anything. Is it right?

    Stelios
     
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    That would only be possible in Windows.....

    Intel provides an executable (.exe) version of their BIOS files but,(BIG BIG but), you have to be able to get to Windows to use it. The box in this thread can't get that far. You're right though, doing it in Windows is eeeasy.
     
  20. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 4,266   +42

    lol good insite. I was going to say the same thing, you beat me to the easy things all the time.
     
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    Not to Worry......

    I'm just takin' care of the light work for ya!
     
  22. chunkstyle

    chunkstyle TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 26

    ok -- instead of taking the big leap of installing the gateway bios (i read some stuff on other sites about how, with this board, it's impossible to change the bios that way, because the new file is too different from the stock intel one, and the utilities won't let you), i took the baby step of just updating the intel bios. iflash wouldn't do it, because it saw that the filenames were different, so i had to force it by pulling the jumper, & booting up with the new .bio file on a floppy. the flash experience was pretty scary, and it acted weird a bit during the process, but a few reboots later, it seems to be ok. there's a new splash screen that doesn't even mention gateway, the new version number is ev91510a.86a.0482, i can enter the bios setup & adjust stuff, dos will boot from the floppy drive, and windows setup still tries to run from the cd drive. pretty much where it was at before the flash.

    however, my basic problem is still the same -- windows installation hangs up shortly after that "windows is inspecting your hardware's setup" screen. it goes thru that screen, then the blue screen comes up where it starts loading files, but it either hangs up at the point where it's loading "windows executive" or "hardware abstraction layer". it only got as far as this latter file just today.

    by any chance, could all this trouble be due to a bad sata cable? do they go bad often? or is my motherboard just junk?

    and, for what it's worth, the hd does show up in the bios. i was trying to connect it to different sata connectors on the mobo for a while a bit ago, and for a while, it wasn't showing up in the bios. then, i put it back on sata0, and at the next reboot a text screen flashed up either before or after the splash screen (it happened really fast & unexpectedly -- i've never seen that particular screen before) that had the text "intel desktop board" near the top. i don't know what that meant, but now the hd is definitely showing up in the bios. win setup still doesn't go right, though.

    thanks!
     
  23. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,967   +955

    As pretentious as it is.......

    "I" is always capitalized in English. So go ahead, indulge yourself.
    It's good to see that you've gotten the computer all the way back to merely broken. (not being smart, just a bit of dark humor to lighten things up a bit. (I threw in the oxymoron for good measure)).

    If you have a real Windows CD (not a recovery disc) you could run a drive scrubber type utility on the drive. This would remove the master boot record and Windows would think it was being installed on a brand new drive. You would LOSE EVERYTHING ON THE HARD DRIVE.

    My best advice at this point is to install the drive into another computer and back up the data to DVD or CD, before you continue to experiment with the machine in question.

    As to SATA cables and what not, intermittent connections, corrosion, and thermal problems are always usual suspects in electronic malfunctions.
    SATA cables are fairly inexpensive to replace. So, as process of eliminations stuff to do, it certainly couldn't hurt.

    I don't know if this guide will help you, but it certainly couldn't hurt to read it. http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic8356.html
     
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.


Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...


Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.