PC BIOS Updates

Discussion in 'hardware' started by TheKid7, Aug 7, 2010.

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  1. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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    It is my understanding that a person should only FLASH a PC's BIOS if:

    1. You are having an issue that you feel would be corrected by the BIOS update.
    2. You are going to upgrade to a newer CPU that was not supported by the older BIOS.

    What are your opinions on whether or not to FLASH a PC's BIOS?

    I FLASHED the BIOS on one of my PC's a couple of days ago without any problems with the FLASH procedure. I did not have any detectable problems with the PC prior to the FLASH, but I saw that one of the BIOS fixes corrected some sort of an issue with the on-board NIC. The BIOS version notes did not say that all people were having an issue with the NIC.

    About 4 years ago I FLASHED the BIOS on my other PC shortly after building the PC. The reason for the BIOS FLASH was that the PC would frequently crash/reboot for no apparent reason. At first, I thought that I had a bad motherboard. The problem was fixed by FLASHING the BIOS.

    However, yesterday I decided to FLASH the BIOS on my 4 year old PC again to bring it up to date, even though I was not having any problems. The FLASH process repeatedly failed (verification after FLASH). It was a good thing that I backed up the current BIOS to file. I successfully FLASHED the backup file. Now I am afraid to make any further attempts.

    "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
     
  2. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

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    I usually update Bios whenever there is a new one. Luckily or not I never had an issue like yours. If I did, I would probably react the same and leave it alone (congratulate yourself on having a backup). But come next computer I would flash the new Bios :)
     
  3. KookyMan

    KookyMan Registered Member

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    Once upon a time, before crash free bios, and recovery modes, flashing a bios was a much riskier practice. You could in fact render your PC completely unbootable as a result of a flash problem (such as power failure mid-flash, corrupted image, etc). As a result it was a serious risk to flash your bios, which is where the "To fix a problem or add support for a needed feature" came from.

    Nowdays, though, because of the new recovery and similar features, its almost trivial to update your bios. I'd still exercize caution if you arn't running a system on a UPS, or if your motherboard doesn't support any kind of recovery. I don't think anyone would be happy being without a system for days to weeks because a bios update failed and you had to wait for a hardware bios replacement.

    Something else you could try with the one that wouldn't update, attempt to locate a copy of the bios that was released immediately before the one that failed. See if that one works.
     
  4. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

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    I flash the BIOS if it's quite old, or if I'm updating the PC by installing a newer opearating system (tends to make parts more compatible with the newer OS), certainly if there's an issue that was fixed. It's not something I go and check several times a year, like I would with video card drivers. But generally I like to keep them up to date.

    I've been flashing BIOS since back in the Win3 and NT 4 days...that's quite before failsafe and "through Windows" were out, back then it was from a bootable floppy disk you made specifically for the job. Out of probably several thousand BIOS flashes over the year, I can only recall 1 that went bad and tanked the motherboard....and that was a custom "mod" BIOS that I knew was risky.
     
  5. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    My policy is to upgrade the BIOS only if:

    • The upgrade addresses an issue you are having (and new CPU support is a valid one) - read the release notes
    • The upgrade addresses a security issue (rare)
    • The current version is corrupt (also rare)
    I normally don't upgrade a BIOS or drivers just because a new one is there. Drivers for newer graphics cards might be an exception, and I may flash the BIOS when I install a brand new motherboard. But once everything is working, I usually just leave it.

    I have had a few fail, but only one that trashed the EEPROM, and that was long ago. And it failed because the power went out in the middle of the flash. Not pretty - but it got me the funding for the UPSes I had been yelling for all our "mission critical" systems. ;)
     
  6. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    I don't normally flash or update anything unless there is a compelling reason to do so. My experience has shown that when a claim of improved performance is flashed around, you will have to measure to find it. There can be exceptions, but normally performance improvement is the last reason I update.

    When I buy motherboards, I used to look for bios chips that were in sockets so that you could remove them. I have used this trick many times, doing what is called a 'hot flash'. I also used to buy a lot of gigabyte boards because they had the option of a backup bios. That was a nice feature. I would still consider a Gigabyte board today, but that is not the only reason I would purchase one.

    I have always thought the manufacturers could do much better with that aspect of things, the bios. They could expand it and do more if they chose to.

    Sul.
     
  7. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I use Gigabyte boards almost exclusively - and that is one reason.

    In the old olden days, the only way to upgrade the BIOS was to replace the chip. But I date myself.
     
  8. Sully

    Sully Registered Member

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    Don't feel bad, I still have simm memory and a harddrive the size of a websters dictionary that would hold I think about 100mb. I also have a modem that you actually set the headset into. That was before the headset had the dial pad on it (called a rotary for you young-uns).

    Sul.
     
  9. KookyMan

    KookyMan Registered Member

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    Hey! I had one of those... It was weird... you didn't press anything on the phone.. ya stuck yer finger in it and twisted. darn dialin was slow, actually had to stop and think about the number you were doin.. gave you good incentive to dial the number right the first time. Misdials were a pain in the butt.
     
  10. guest

    guest Guest

    Well, on my new HP Pavilion dv7-4069wm Laptop PC, the HP Support Assistant automatically updates the BIOS - as well as other drivers and firmwares. It also does other maintenance tasks as well. And all is automatic. This was a great surprise.

    I saw it running today:

    Untitled2.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2010
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