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Why and How to Flash Your BIOS

Flashing the BIOS is one of the most feared topics related to computers. Yes,
people should be very cautious because it can be dangerous. This article is going
to focus on the basics and explain ways to flash the BIOS, precautions and how to
recover in case of a bad flash.
The Basics

First of all, let's get into the basics. What is the BIOS and why should you
flash it? Let me explain. It's the acronym for Basic Input/Output System. It's one
of the most crucial components on a motherboard. It determines and tells your
computer what it can do without accessing any other files or programs from your
storage; it acts like simple software. Basically the BIOS contains all the
information that's needed for your computer to POST (=Power on Self Test). This
includes how to control your keyboard, communicate with your processor,
send/receive video signals to/from your monitor, and recognize your components
(hard drives, optical drives, USB devices, serial ports and so on). If this makes
sense then you understand that without the BIOS a computer would not boot at all
(no POST); neither will it boot with a defective/corrupted BIOS.

Why should we flash the BIOS? It's simple. When manufacturers release a new
motherboard, of course, the BIOS on the board is already flashed. Since technology
advances in quantum leaps it's very important to realize that in a matter of weeks
or months new products are going to be released. So computers should support them,
right? That's the bottom line here. Flashing your BIOS to the latest release is
crucial because it enhances your system's capabilities, helps it to detect newer
devices and components (bigger hard drivers, newer processors, and so forth), and
improves stability (very often in the latest BIOS flashes manufacturers apply a
series of bug fixes). There is always a "change-log" included with every newer
BIOS release that should be your number 1 must-read piece of information; it helps
you decide whether or not it's worth it to flash that specific version.

BIOS Chips and Manufacturers

There are quite a few manufacturers that are producing different BIOS chips:
Award, AMI, Phoenix, and IBM. Most commonly you can find AMIs, AWARDs and
PHOENIXes. The BIOS is stored on a ROM chip.

These ROM BIOS chips can be of different measurements and look different from
each other. Check out the following two types of chips. The one on the left is an
AWARD (as stated on the sticker), while the one on the right is a Phoenix chip.
You may find other chips that can't be "taken out" with extractors; on older
systems quite often the BIOS chip was soldered directly on the board.

Understanding the Process

Every manufacturer recommends that you use their BIOS flashing utility. Also,
don't forget to read the information that's included and related to flashing in
your motherboard's manual. Yes, dig that manual out (or if you can't find it then
download it from the manufacturer's website; it's usually available) and read it!

Four of the most common flashers are: AWDFLASH, AMIFLASH, UNIFLASH and AFUDOS
(only for ASUS boards). Out of these the UNIFLASH (get it here) is the universal
flasher that can usually flash every BIOS; it has awesome compatibility
capabilities. Keep in mind that BIOS flashing can be (and is) dangerous, because
in the case of a bad flash the data ends up corrupted and your computer won't POST
anymore. So I'm recommending wholeheartedly that you use the BIOS flasher that's
explained in the manual and provided by the manufacturer of your board. Read the
manual, do your research and when you're ready, then and only then proceed to
follow the instructions.

After you get your flasher you need the latest BIOS flash file. First find out
your motherboard manufacturer's name and your board's exact name and
specifications. Visit your manufacturer's website and download the latest non-beta
version (betas can be risky and I don't suggest you experiment if you can't fix it
if a bad flash happens; we'll discuss that a bit later). These files usually have
".ROM" or ".BIN" extensions. Later on I'm going to call the "latest BIOS file"

I'm going to give you examples of how to use UNIFLASH, AWDFLASH, AMIFLASH and
AFUDOS. Read them strictly as examples and do not proceed to flash your latest
BIOS version before you understand what each option gives and how to use these

Flashing with UNIFLASH:

A:uniflash.exe newbios.bin

Flashing with AWDFLASH:

A:awdflash.exe newbios.bin /py /sn /cc

Flashing with AMIFLASH:

A:amiflash.exe newbios.bin /A+ /-B /-C /-D /E /-G /I /L /N /R /V

Flashing with AFUDOS:

A:afudos.exe /inewbios.bin

Even though the above commands do work it's always crucial that you read what
every command does and understand them. First of all, once you're booted into MS-
DOS, execute the flashers without commands and options. Just use a simple
"awdflash.exe" or "amiflash.exe"-- then a help screen (which explains all of the
available commands and options) will appear. Read that thoroughly before
proceeding and follow the instructions.

On a side note, UNIFLASH has a UI (user interface) so it definitely helps

beginners. Execute the "uniflash.exe" and the UI will appear and guide you


I can't stress enough that flashing the BIOS can be dangerous if the flashing
process isn't finished successfully or if the newly flashed file doesn't match
your system or is incorrect. First of all, be aware of electricity and the chances
of a power outage. Never flash if there is bad weather outside; losing electricity
while in the middle of flashing can have disastrous effects. It's always advisable
to have a USP too. Flashing the BIOS doesn't takes longer than one minute so it's
very important to be "safe" while flashing; if you must, borrow a USP from your
next door neighbor, if possible.

Before proceeding to flash don't forget to go into your BIOS and write down (or
take a photo if you' have a camera) all of your settings. This is crucial because
the "default" settings may not be the best option for your system, especially if
you've tweaked BIOS and you do not remember anymore what tweaks you've applied.

Do NOT reboot and/or shut down your system while flashing; the reason for that
should be self-explanatory. It's also recommended that you set your BIOS options
to "default": reboot, go into BIOS and select the option "Load Fail-safe defaults"
or something similar. Now all you need to do is to make backup bootable system
disk(s), which can save you in case of a bad flash. Let me explain why.

I'm going to introduce and explain a new term in my article: the "boot-block." A
boot-block is a small part of the BIOS that helps in case of a bad flash. Let me
explain how and why. When flashing the BIOS usually (if you don't use additional
commands) the boot-block remains intact, meaning that the "original" boot-block
remains safe. The boot-block only contains the data that lets it know how to boot
and flash the BIOS from a floppy disk or CD.

Suppose the data on the BIOS is screwed up; no POST will happen, nothing will
appear on your monitor but your FDD and optical drives are going to blink like
hell. This means that you have a bad flash. Either the wrong version of BIOS was
flashed onto the ROM or there was a power outage and the flashing stopped right in
the middle of the process. You can save your computer by inserting a bootable MS-
DOS floppy disk (or CD) that is going to have following files on it: your flasher,
a new BIOS flash file and "autoexec.bat." Autoexec.bat is executed as soon as your
system boots up in MS-DOS. You need to include a command to run the flashing
utility. Check out the following two examples; the first one is for AMI and the
second one for Award.

amiflash.exe newbios.bin /A+ /-B /-C /-D /E /-G /I /L /N /R /V

awdflash.exe newbios.bin /py /sn

The above examples work only for AMI/AWARD chips, obviously. Replace the example
with the correct commands, the name of the new flash file and use the appropriate
flasher. After you've put everything on the floppy, insert it and reboot.

There is another way to flash AMI BIOS without the need for a bootable floppy
disk. Rename your new BIOS flash file to "AMIBOOT.ROM" then copy it to a floppy
disk (that will contain only this file). Insert it into your FDD and reboot. Hold
down "CTRL"+ "HOME" to launch the flashing process.

You'll notice that the floppy LED (or the light on the optical device) is going
to report that it's reading. Your system will boot up in MS-DOS and then the
flashing process will start. Don't expect anything to appear on your screen; you
need to wait until you figure out yourself that the LED isn't blinking anymore and
it completed its task; you can wait up to a few minutes maximum to be sure that
the process is finished.

Eject the CD or get the floppy disk out and reboot your system. If everything
goes all right it is going to POST correctly and work as usual; what a relief.
You've just saved your system from a bad flash.

But what if this doesn't help? Or what if you've flashed corrupt data also on
the boot-block? What can you do then? Well, there are a few ways to flash a new
and correct version of BIOS onto the chip. The most popular technique is "hot-
swapping." You are going to need another ROM chip that is flashed with the correct
BIOS, meaning that it's taken out of a working motherboard which is exactly like
You borrow that chip for a half an hour (from a friend, neighbor, etc), install
it in your motherboard and boot up; your system will POST if the data on the new
chip is correct. As soon as you've booted up into MS-DOS, you take out the BIOS
ROM chip on-the-fly and replace it with your chip (which has corrupt data on it).
Then you proceed to flash.

On a side note, please be very cautious and aware that fiddling with components
without turning the PC off is very dangerous; you can do more harm than good. Then
again, this technique is tried and tested; it works but it's recommended only as a
last resort when everything else fails. Basically you're taking out a chip that is
powered on, so there is a slight chance of screwing up the entire motherboard's
circuitry along with the chip.

Final Words

Great, we've come to the end of this article. You should have understood by now
what the whole "bios flashing" process is. I'm also sure that you've already
decided whether you're going to flash your BIOS or not with the latest update
that's available. That choice is definitely yours. Although you should keep in
mind the consequences too. If there are no serious reasons (unsupported hardware
components) and you aren't familiar with flashing, also you're afraid, then don't
do it. If you do need to flash your BIOS then read and research before proceeding
-- do your homework; when you're ready you'll feel ready. Always check the
manufacturers website for detailed instructions and suggestions before diving into
anything dealing with either the motherboard, onboard circuit chips,
BIOS chips, ROM chips, etc.


This sections will discuss when it is a good time to update your BIOS software and
to do it.

If your BIOS is outdated, your computer may not be able to use certain features
of your hardware. This will, in turn,cause your PC to run inefficient and
eventually fail to run some devices at all. To update your BIOS is to increase
your computer's speed and compatibility with newer hardware.

Your BIOS can be updated by downloading a small software patch and "Flashing"
the software onto the BIOS memory chip located on the motherboard. This software
should be downloaded onto a floppy disk for fast installation.

As with all software you update on your computer, stop and take the time to copy
or backup your bios. Should something go wrong while you are updating your current
bios,you will have a backup copy on hand. Use a backup utility such as to
backup a copy of your bios or use print screen to have a written copy of your

You can find the latest update for your BIOS by first knowing the latest version
of BIOS installed on your computer. To find out the type and version of BIOS you
have,check your documentation for this data. Or you can contact the manufacturer
by phone, email, or visit their website to gather this information.

Other ways to know the type of BIOS you have is to select

Start>Programs>Accessories>System>and System Information.
Then select Windows Report Tool from the tools menu. Then select Collected
Information from the options menu and scroll down to the BIOS.
The bios will be found in the "System Settings To Copy" section. Write the
manufacturer and date of your bios.You can now perform a search on the Internet to
locate the bios web site and download any updates that may be available. This
procedure is to be followed if you have Windows 98.

For Windows Me and Windows XP,select Start, Programs in Windows Me and All
Programs in Windows XP. Then select Accessories>System Tools>System
Information>System Summary Section> section and BIOS.

Once you know the version of BIOS you have,go to their website and download the
latest version onto a floppy disk..Once the download is complete, leave the
diskette in the floppy drive,and close your Internet connection.

Now you re-boot your computer and if the computer reads the floppy,it will erase
the old BIOS from the Flash Memory and install the new software. This same
procedure is used regardless of what operating system is installed on your

The Bios is quick to install but you must take great care in not allow power
lose in the middle of flashing or stalling the new software. If power is lost by
such lighting during a storm or your 6 year old pulling the surge protector from
the wall outlet, you will have to use your bios backup to replace the old bios.

If you don't have a backup,you may have to take the PC to the manufacturer to
have the bios installed. It will well worth updating your bios if you simply
ensure there are no senseless means of power lose.

You may consider upgrading your BIOS to risky but its really easy, fast, and
well worth the time. Your PC should perform much better and provide you with the
standards to support the most up to date software and hardware

created by BobbyR1234 on 4/8/08 and uploade to