Man, this better win me 10 points, my fingers will hurt when im done with this dude...
In most cases flashing the BIOS is the dumbest thing that you can do
I get way to many emails from people that say "I saw this later version BIOS on website xyz and I downloaded it and now I can't use my computer. Help!!!"
So I'm warning everyone here and now - don't reflash your BIOS unless you know that an updated version will solve your problem. Plus it is important to know exactly what version of a BIOS that you need to install. Time to contact your laptop maker and see if they can help.
If you install the wrong BIOS - expect unknown results. Some results of a wrong BIOS being installed can include destroyed data on the hard drive or some other nasty problem. including creating a door stop or paperweight that was formerly a laptop.
So if you re not sure of having the correct BIOS update - don't do it.
Do note that reflashing a BIOS won't solve a broken floppy drive problem. It doesn't fix destroyed files on the hard drive. It won't make your display have 24 bit true color at 10,936 x 2,367 bits of resolution. It won't turn your CD-ROM drive into a DVD. It won't make a 200 MHz Pentium laptop run the latest games faster than a speeding bullet.
At best an update will solve a small problem that a few people experience with certain laptop motherboard revisions and some software.
Do you really need to update or are you just messing around? If the later then think about the time and effort that you will need to expend to put your laptop back right when the BIOS update goes wrong. Still willing to proceed? Then be aware that many laptops have their BIOS chips soldered directly to the motherboard. So if you screw up the BIOS update flash and the laptop won't boot - you have a major major problem on your hands. Figure $150 or more plus several weeks before you can use your laptop again.
Still willing to update?
Here's a few tips and terms:
BIOS = Basic Input output system. A small program hard coded into a chip that allows a computer to turn on and check itself out. It then allows a larger program to take over the computer. (DOS or Windows) Most Pentium laptops have a BIOS that is in a EEPROM and therefore can be updated to a newer version of the BIOS program.
Flash program = a program supplied by the laptop computer to allow updating the BIOS program. This may be a custom program or a program supplied by the company that wrote the BIOS for the laptop maker. IE: Phoenix, Award or AMI.
BIOS file = The new BIOS program in a format that the flash program can read and convert into machine code.
Machine code = For IBM compatable computers, machine code = Intel 86 CPU code.
Checksum = A mathmatical addition of all the bytes in a file so that a program can check the status of the file. If the reference checksum value differs from the checksum of the file have different values then the file is corrupt and should not be used.
Checksum error = A test done by a BIOS on itself to make sure that it is properly loaded into the EEPROM. If there is a checksum erro then the BIOS was flashed incorrectly or a virus or other program scrambled the stored BIOS program and the laptop will not operate correctly - if at all.
Boat Anchor = a laptop that has been converted into a mass of useless junk by wiping out the BIOS program. There is little hope of self recovery from this status with most laptop.
Mitac supplies an emergency proceedure for some models that requires an external connector to be made up and installed on the parallel port to recover from this problem. However, I have NEVER been sucessful with recovering a Mitac BIOS using this procedure.
The BIOS in the chip is used only during boot up. After that, a copy is put into main memory for faster operation. This second copy of BIOS can be modified by programs, just like any other data stored in main memory., allowing an old version of a BIOS to be updated in memory each time that the computer boots. PowerTweak does this for the K6-2+ CPU setup and hard drive overlay programs also does this to allow large hard drives to be installed in computers with outdated BIOS revisions.
Reflashing of the hard coded BIOS program with is located in an EEPROM chip is a dangerous task. On one hand there's the need to fix a design flaw or add an improved system feature. But on the other hand one should be ready for a total loss of laptop operation if something goes wrong during the reflash. No BIOS, no boot.
Since many of our laptop manufacturer's are no longer around, we can't ask them why they came out with their later BIOS versions. Nor can we ask them just which version goes with which machine.
Using a BIOS intended for a laptop from one company on a second company's machine can be risky too.
Yes, they might both be Chicony MP975's, but brand "A" might have all 512K motherboards and use a special code for revisions that were never sold by the second company. This can lead to the wrong BIOS file being loaded for your laptop.
But if you decide to go ahead, then you need to follow some important rules. If you have a file that tells you how to reflash, then print it out and follow the instructions to the letter. But use all this at your own risk.
Here's the rules that I follow:
1) Have the laptop powered from the AC power. Even better, have a charged and working battery installed too. Because if the power goes out in the middle of a reflash, you are in bad, bad, bad trouble.
2) Make a bootable floppy and test it. You must be able to get to DOS and be able to do the reflash from the floppy drive. The setup disk created from Windows is a good place to start. You can delete CD-ROM driver files that are not needed to make room for the files in Step #3. But again test the ability to read your CD-ROM drive before going beyond this step.
3) Install the reflash program and the BIOS file that you wish to flash into your BIOS chip on the bootable floppy created in Step #2. Make 100% sure that the reflash program is from the company that wrote the BIOS in your laptop. IE AMI-flash program for AMI BIOS's. Phoenix flash program for Phoenix BIOS, etc. etc.
4) Write down the name of the BIOS file to be installed. Have it next to you. Most flash programs are very brief little programs and most don't show the BIOS files available on the the floppy. The wrong name entered later may result in a blank BIOS chip!!!! This is not good!
4) Type in the name of the flash program and then ENTER.
5) Follow the instructions to the letter! Don't guess. Abort the flash if in doubt. Write down each step as the program runs through it's menu. (might come in handy later)
6) Make sure when you get to the "save" old BIOS that you do save it. Makeup a "old" BIOS name that you can remember. Write it down!
7) When it's time to type in the name of the BIOS file to be burnt into the chip type it in and then compare to the written down name - are you 100% sure that there's no typing errors? Check it again. Then check it a third time.
8) Hit ENTER.
9) Hold your breath and pray.
10) Don't touch any keys, don't reboot don't turn off the power. Wait.
11) When the message (hopefully) pops up that all is done and you can turn power off or reboot or whatever it says to do. DON'T. Wait. Then wait some more. Wait 5 minutes if need be. Make 100% sure that the program isn't still writing to the BIOS chip.
12) If an error message occurs. Read it! Else go to Step # 13. Something has gone wrong and you'll need to see if there's a way to reflash at this point. DO NOT EXIT the flash program!!!! If the program is still functioning then this is the only time that you can reflash without the BIOS chip working. Try reloading the old BIOS file. Try anything to recover! If you can't get the program to respond and there no way to reload the old BIOS - pray. Turn off power and hope for a POST message on power up.
13) If all has gone well the BIOS has been rewritten to your new version. Now it's time to test it. Follow the instructions displayed on the LCD as to what the reflash program wants you to do. Be it turn power off or just reboot. follow those instructions.
14) If you rebooted or if you turned power off and back on and are now facing a POST message - good! If any problems show up there's a good chance that you can recover and reload the old BIOS, should the the new BIOS prove to be not working or isn't correct for your laptop.
15) Follow the POST instructions to enter CMOS and reset the settigns to "default" if thats the best settings fro your machine. Else, check al of the values and make sure that they are correct. YOu may want to have BIOS auto detect the hard drive, to be safe.
16) Now allow the laptop to boot to " A" and NOT to the hard drive!!! Did it boot? Good. Now type in "Dir C:". Did you get a list of files? Good. There a good chance that you can boot normally. Remove the floppy from the "A" drive and reboot. If all goes well - you're done.
17) If you don't get a POST message or if you can't see the directory of files on the hard drive - you've got big problems.
18) Still working on the reflash? If you get a POST and can BOOT to "A" then see if you can reflash back to the old version of BIOS. Start all over at step #1.
19) If there's no POST message and the laptop seems to be dead. Is there a "beep code"? That's where the laptop seems to be sending Morse code? If so, maybe you loaded the wrong BIOS and the laptop can't find the video. Try to boot to "A" and see if you can reflash blindly. Follow the list of steps that you wrote down and hope that you can reflash.
20) Totally dead? Well it's time to pull out your wallet. You will need to spend some money and have someone reflash a BIOS chip for you. I DO NOT DO THIS!! You can contact me and I will try to help, but this is not an offer to solve your problem. I will try to help, but you will need to solve the problem yourself if I can't help you.
So you can see why I don't reflash BIOS files to the latest greatest version often.