How to flash a BIOS

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Reza M. asks, " Can you tell me, how I can update my computer's main board BIOS? "

My Response:

Flashing a BIOS simply means to update the BIOS. A BIOS is a computer chip which contains simple instructions required for operation particular to a device. Since not all main boards are the same, the steps taken for flashing a motherboard BIOS can only be generalized.

I will attempt to explain the procedure, but must first advise: do not flash your BIOS unless you absolutely need to (IE: an update is required to have the device function properly). The reasoning for this is simple: if the flash fails, your computer *may not* turn back on (unless you have 2 BIOS's: 1 used for backup, but that's a feature which is uncommon in most motherboards).

Not long ago, my BIOS flash failed for my RAID hard drive controller (due to a hardware error) and I had to wait 2 weeks to get my main computer back online while I waited for a refurbished card to arrive in the mail.

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.

Typically, BIOS flashers only work under DOS and generally work like this:

DOSprompt:\> biosflasher.exe

Backup the BIOS first!

Most BIOS programs will ask you to save a copy of the current BIOS. Always save it incase your flash fails, you can attempt to re-flash using the old BIOS while your computer is still turned on.

Once you've backed up the old ROM, begin flashing the new ROM. The BIOS flash program should then ask you for the ROM file name (ROM = Read Only Memory). Type it in and press enter to begin the procedure.

Note that any interruption during a flash (ie: power outage) will 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.

Side note: it is not recommended that you store your old BIOS on a floppy disk for any lengthy period of time. Floppy's have a high failure rates and may inadvertently corrupt the BIOS.

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