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BIOS Update WhEN You Should Do It

BIOS and why you should NOT do it because you think it is a good idea...

Once in a while you have a hardware problem that isn't the actual hardware, is it the Basic Input Output System?

Back in the late 1980's early 1990's the Basic Input Output System in older computers had a drive table that gave the drive controller (MFM, RLL, and IDE) the parameters for the drive. I used to change that table for newer drives that had a larger capacity.

To change the drive table you had to copy the program from the Basic Input Output System, normally a file called .bin (binary format) then using a hex editor (special editor that displays the bin file in hexadecimal and text) change the parameters then burn the modified program back on a CMOS chip, test, then send the computer out on rental with the bigger hard drive. Fun!

You still see the drive table in modern BIOS setting but you can not change the drive parameters, it is pulled directly from the drive firmware.

Note: Firmware is a program and settings that are programmed in to a read only programmable chip, this chip has a one time write feature, that is once it has been written to there isn't any way to erase or change the program or the settings.

Such as:

When you look at the settings for your hard drive in Basic Input Output System you can change a couple of settings like if the drive is an IDE interface you can change how the embedded interface sees the drive, normal IDE or LBA (Large Block Array). This doesn't change the size or the read/write speed, just how the computer and Operating System sees the drive.

Some motherboard/computer manufactures have utilities that periodically check the manufactures web site for updates to resolve problems after a product has been in the field for some time. Yours may have the utility running in the background, maybe an ICON in the taskbar tray.

Sometimes the program that is the firmware in the BIOS is either written wrong or missing some data. When the manufacture discovers a problem with the program or parameters they correct the data and issue an update for the Basic Input Output System.

If your computer manufacture doesn't have an automatic update program you can install or comes installed then you have to manually do the update.

It is fairly easy to do but there are inherent problems getting the task done.

If your computer/motherboard manufacture still uses DOS (yes DOS is still alive) instead of an interface for Windows and you don't have a floppy drive  you have to do a work around to get the Basic Input Output System update program and the Basic Input Output System file on a device that is bootable in DOS!

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You could use a bootable CD with the Basic Input Output System update program (called a Flash Program) and the .bin file on it, however backing up the current Basic Input Output System program will take another type of work around, DOS can not see a NTFS partition, nor can you write to a CD with DOS (I know of a couple small cd writing programs that might work, however you would have to figure out how to interface the flash program with the cd writing program...)

Your best bet would to create a bootable USB pen/flash drive with DOS and then put the BIOS flash program and .bin file on it. This way you would have a writeable device that you could backup the old Basic Input Output System program before changing the Basic Input Output System chip to the new program.

It does get confusing, no?

Can a BIOS (Basic Input Output System) program become corrupt?

Yes, it can, however the chances of the program becoming corrupt are very low, something has to cause an increase of voltage to the BIOS Flash chip at 14.4 volts. Think about that for a few minutes. How can you get an increase of 2.4 volts on your motherboard?

I can suggest two ways:

  • A power surge
  • A program that has the ability to use the flash circuit built into the Basic Input Output System circuitry.

Could a virus have this ability? Maybe but probably not, most viruses are very small, it would be very noticeable by AV (anti virus) programs because of the over all size of the virus with the ability to modify the Basic Input Output System program. (There was a rumor about such a virus back in the late 1990's, rumor only).

Also each chip set for a Basic Input Output System is different from manufacture to manufacture.

In my opinion if a BIOS becomes corrupt to a point where the hardware is having major problems then the motherboard needs to be replaced.

A firmware error introduced when the program was written is not a corrupt Basic Input Output System, usually flashing the BIOS chip with an update to the program will cure the problem.



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P.S.

The only time you should flash the Basic Input Output System chip is when you are advised to do so by the motherboard/computer manufacture to correct a problem. Flashing the Basic Input Output System will not give you any increase in speed or new functions for the BIOS, only a new motherboard/computer will do that.





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