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Precautions to Take Before Updating a BIOS

Use the following checklist to be safe, not sorry, when updating a BIOS:

  1. First, back up your data. An "almost working" BIOS that doesn't quite work with your hard drive can blow away your data.

  2. Back up your current BIOS code, if you can. Some BIOS update loader programs offer this option, but others don't. As an alternative, some BIOS chips keep a mini-BIOS onboard that can be reactivated if a botched update destroys the main BIOS. Some motherboards have a jumper that can be used to switch to the backup; check your system documentation. For others, check the Micro Firmware Web site for its Flash BIOS Recovery Disks page to find out whether your motherboard is listed. If the BIOS update isn't completed properly, you could have a dead system that will need a trip to the manufacturer for repair. See the section "How to Recover from a Failed BIOS Update Procedure," later in this chapter for a typical recovery procedure.

  3. Record your hard drive configuration information. If you are switching to a different brand of BIOS, you might need to re-enter this information. The information that you should record includes

    • Cylinders

    • Heads

    • Sectors per track

    • Translation (Normal, LBA [greater than 528MB], Large, and so on)

  4. Record other nonstandard BIOS settings, such as hard disk transfer rate settings, built-in serial and parallel port settings, and so on. A worksheet that you can use as a guide is found later in this chapter.

  5. Read carefully and completely the information provided with the flash BIOS download or chip-type BIOS update kit. Check online or call the BIOS manufacturer if you have any questions before you ruin your BIOS.

  6. Check to see whether your system has a write-protect setting jumper on the motherboard that must be adjusted to allow a BIOS update to take place. Some motherboards disable BIOS updates by default to protect your system's BIOS from unauthorized changes. Set your motherboard to allow the change before you install the flash BIOS update, and reset the protection after the update is complete.

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