Upgrading BIOS

Upgrading BIOS

Special utilities are required for performing a BIOS upgrade. This procedure is very important and potentially dangerous; therefore, it must be performed carefully and according to instructions. As a rule, all required instructions, BIOS upgrading utilities, and documentation explaining possible failures and useful recommendations are available at the Web sites offering files with new BIOS versions.

A BIOS upgrade completely replaces the entire BIOS code and data. If any failure occurs during this process, the computer system might become unusable. If this happens, it is necessary to call a service center for support. Usually, the repair operations require special equipment or, at least, a second (usable) computer with the same type of motherboard.

Note that the recommendations given here are only a generalized scenario of a BIOS upgrade. Before proceeding with an actual BIOS upgrade, it is necessary to carefully study the technical documentation or contact a trained specialist. Remember that any specific case might have particular nuances that can greatly influence the final result.

As a rule, you should perform the following steps to accomplish a motherboard BIOS upgrade:

  1. Precisely identify the model of your motherboard. Different motherboard versions require different utilities and different files containing BIOS upgrade codes. Each motherboard is usually labeled with the manufacturer name, product name, and version number.

  2. Download the file containing the newest BIOS version from the manufacturer's Web site.

  3. Unpack the downloaded file containing the BIOS upgrade. Quite often, the downloaded file is a self-extracting archive with the .exe filename extension. To unpack the BIOS upgrade, it is usually sufficient to run this file. The archive will be automatically unpacked into the required file format, such as into a file with the .bin extension.

  4. Disable the BIOS protection function in BIOS Setup. Some motherboards have the Flash BIOS Protection parameter in the See & CHIPSET SETUP menu of BIOS Setup. You must set the Disabled option for this function before proceeding with the BIOS upgrade.

  5. Start the system without loading any Terminate and Stay Resident (TSR) programs. Some utilities for upgrading the BIOS operate correctly only when there are no memory-resident programs. This is why you are advised to boot the system from the boot diskette that contains only the system and the command.com file, or to skip the processing of the autoexec.bat and config.sys files when booting DOS/Windows.

  6. Start the BIOS updating program (the flash utility) to update flash memory containing BIOS code.

  7. The flash utility often is supplied with the motherboard. The file containing the BIOS update must reside in the same directory as the flash utility. It would be wise to memorize the name of the file containing the new BIOS version.

Generally, BIOS updating utilities are interactive programs. They usually request the following information from the PC user:

  • Fully-qualified name (with extension) of the file containing the new BIOS version

  • Fully-qualified filename where you will save the current BIOS version (oldbios.bin)

  • Confirmation of the update process (Y/N)

After accomplishing the update process, you must restart your computer.

These steps can be accomplished not only in a DOS environment, but also under other operating systems. Recently, BIOS updating utilities appeared that operate under Windows-like systems. Furthermore, some motherboard manufacturers supply special tools that allow the BIOS to be updated via the Internet, directly from a manufacturer's Web site.

Time will show if this approach is justified. However, it is our duty to warn potential users of such tools: You might render your computer unusable if you choose this updating method. A situation even may occur in which the operating system fails during the update process.