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Beginners Guides: Flashing a Motherboard BIOS

Beginners Guides: Flashing a Motherboard BIOS - PCSTATS
Abstract: Upgrading the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) of your computer's motherboard, also sometimes called flashing, used to be a complex operation full of potential perils for your PC.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCstats Guide Jun 30 2004   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCstats Guide

Procedure: Flashing the BIOS in DOS mode

Many manufacturers do offer software to flash the BIOS of your motherboard from the Windows environment, something that used to be unheard of. This support tends to be for only the most recent of motherboards, though, and is extremely easy to use (when it works). For these reasons, we have decided to detail the process of upgrading your BIOS through the DOS environment. This procedure is slightly more complicated, but it works the same way for every motherboard made within the past decade or so.

To carry out this procedure, you will need a working 1.44MB floppy drive (or CD burner, though floppy is easier).

First you need to create a clean DOS boot disk. This disk will boot your computer to the DOS prompt with no additional software or drivers loaded. This is essential for the BIOS updating process. If you have an old Windows95 or Windows98 boot disk sitting around, you can use that, if not then the easiest way to create this disk is to go to BootDisk.com and download the "DR. DOS disk for BIOS flashing" file. You can find this item straight off the main page.

The download file is actually a disk image, and once it is completed, simply double click the file name and insert a blank floppy disk into the A:/ drive and it will create a boot disk for you right then and there. If you do not have a floppy drive, download the .ISO image and burn it onto a CD to create a DOS clean boot disk.

Once you have created your boot disk, locate the BIOS update file that you downloaded from your motherboard manufacturer. Assuming the manufacturer has bundled the BIOS file and BIOS update software together in an archive (.zip), there should be at least two files there. The first is the data file (which contains the new BIOS information) and the second will be a DOS executable file (.exe) which will write the BIOS info onto the CMOS chip.

Depending on the manufacturer and the motherboard, the names of these files will vary. Below are several examples from various motherboard manufacturers to give you an idea of what you are looking for. If you only have a single data file and no executable file, you will need to download the BIOS flashing utility (generally 'flash879' 'awdflash' or 'aflash') from the motherboard manufacturer's website. Again, look in the support or downloads section.

Examples of BIOS files and BIOS updating software file names

Again, depending on the manufacturer, there may be a DOS batch file which you can run to automate the process, or a readme file which contains the manufacturer's specific instructions for flashing the BIOS. Both of these may make the process easier for you, but the method below assumes that neither is present.

Copy the two files (and a batch file, if present) onto a separate floppy disk and note down all the filenames on the disk on a piece of paper. Now, with the floppy disk still in the A:/ drive, reboot your system using the boot floppy you just created. As long as your PC is set to boot from the floppy before going to the CDROM or hard drive, the computer will access it, and boot into DOS. If this doesn't happen, reboot your PC, and make sure the BIOS is set to access the A:/ drive first. This setting is generally configured under "device boot order," or a similar name.

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Contents of Article: PCstats Guide
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Flashing a Motherboard BIOS
 Pg 2.  Why do you need to upgrade?
 Pg 3.  Automatic BIOS Update Programs
 Pg 4.  — Procedure: Flashing the BIOS in DOS mode
 Pg 5.  Manually flashing BIOS under DOS
 Pg 6.  Final Steps: Checking the Update

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