How to flash/update your BIOS

By Tedster ยท 16 replies
Apr 19, 2007
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  1. 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 cause 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 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.
  2. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,674   +990

    Posted the guide in the appropriate forum now, thanks for the submission.
  3. CJ-real

    CJ-real TS Rookie Posts: 56

    It doesn't take that long, but if you don't have a floppy?

    Well, more like:
    I am trying to install a floppy by my MOBO can't recognize it. Then what?
  4. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Topic Starter Posts: 6,002   +15

    you can update by CD rom sometimes, but this is not recommended.
    If you have a floppy slot on your mobo, then you can use a floppy. Turn it ON in your current BIOS. Ensure your floppy cable is oriented correctly.
  5. fyz

    fyz TS Rookie

    that's helpfu.
  6. Sirius38

    Sirius38 TS Rookie

    than's for the guide!! i need this ;) well thank's again.

  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Topic Starter Posts: 6,002   +15

    glad you enjoy it. I appreciate kudos given to the moderators for me. :)
  8. Toasterfraker

    Toasterfraker TS Rookie Posts: 18

    so if you don't have a floppy drive, you're pretty much screwed? I know my Toshiba laptop doesn't and I'm in trouble with BSODs and frozen screens. I was following the troubleshooting guide here but I won't attempt the BIOS flashing if that means making matters worse.
  9. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 887   +19

    BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System not Basic Input Operating System
  10. XphynX

    XphynX TS Rookie

    Thanks a million for the great and clear post. I just wanted to add that some new mobos (motherboards) can actually read the update files from USB thumb drives (mine can).
  11. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Topic Starter Posts: 6,002   +15

    yes - and some mobos have a backup bios chip installed for a flash-over reinstall option. This saves the manufacturer from having to re-burn an the BIOS EPROM if the mobo is returned to manufacturer for repair.
  12. aricartt

    aricartt TS Rookie

    how do you know if you need a bios flash or if the problem is in the drivers
    my brand new computer wont even boot up it gets half way into the OS install and then reboots during device install...bios problem or driver problem
  13. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Topic Starter Posts: 6,002   +15

    this is NOT a forum.
    Please post questions elsewhere.
  14. zapzap

    zapzap TS Rookie

    thank you very much, for some lon time i search for some way to update my bios.
  15. rubens

    rubens TS Rookie

    Any idea how to launch the bios update through a usb drive in the bios. I keep on getting no file found when typing
  16. greenad89

    greenad89 TS Rookie

    BIOS upgrade issue. Computer History. HP IQ-816 64 bit Vista. Hard drive crashed, Installed new SSD with Ubuntu 12.04. Tired of battling lack of support for iTunes in Ubuntu, decided to reinstall Windows. No Vista 64.ios available, installed old XP SP3 MCE -32bit. Yesterday while installing updates for XP decided to upgrade to Window 8Pro instead. After installing updates screen went black, "sleep" mode and will not wake up. Googled this known problem. Nvidia driver incompatible. Disabled video driver. no more sleep, but poor video performance. noticed Windows 8 pro installed is version 32-bit. Contacted Windows Customer service and they said to upgrade BIOS. Contacted HP Website and they only offer BIOS upgrade for IQ816 runing Vista or Win 7. Uggh. Looked up my BIOS vs. 5.05 06/26/2008. Found Latest BIOS version 5.10. Tried to install, but it would not take error: upgrade bios with wrong operating system. Is there a way to upgrade this BIOS. Appears it should have been done prior to hard drive crash and removal of 64 bit windows vista. Help???
  17. rookie123

    rookie123 TS Rookie

    How can I get the dos prompt seems just stucked.....:oops:

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