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holdum333

When should you flash the BIOS??

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Hi There I feel compelled to create a thread about flashing the BIOS. In my opinion it gets thrown around to lightly. When should you flash the BIOS? I could use my own words, but I'm going to steal some from @Brian Burgess Updating or flashing the BIOS is different from other updates and IMHO should be done only when all else has failed. I'm going to steal this from Brian's blog and then add his link to this thread. @Brian Burgess will warn you what can happen and then give you all the facts you need to flash the BIOS if that's what you decide to do. If you have any thing to add to this thread, I welcome all comments. @Brian Burgess writes for groovypost!

Important: Updating your BIOS can be tricky and isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re not a power user, or comfortable messing with it, don’t. If you install the wrong thing, or if something were to go wrong during the update, you can completely brick your PC. I have actually seen it where you can’t even boot from a recovery drive to restore the system. You’ll definitely want to take all the precautions before messing with your BIOS like creating a bootable Windows SD card or flash drive and/or a system image backup…make sure all of your important data is backed up to an external drive and an offsite location using a service like CrashPlan…you can never be too careful.

http://www.groovypost.com/howto/find-computer-bios-version-easy-way/

Edited by holdum333

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The way I always say it, is flash a bios only when you have an issue, that you know a certain Bios flash will remedy and don't do it on a day where there is any likelihood of a thunderstorm or any other possible downed power line possibility. Now that said there are some motherboards i.e. Gigabyte who for some time have been making boards with dual bios which would protect against any of the scenarios I was pointing to and those boards are not in brand name computers.

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It really depends on the situation. If you're running on a home built box with a variety of components you mismatched into a single system, (CPU, MB, Video Card etc...), you should be cautious when updating each component at the BIOS/FIRMWARE level. However, if you're running a prebuilt desktop of laptop (Dell, Lenovo, HP etc...), many of these hardware manufacturers regularly provide Firmware/Bios updates in order to make a system compatible with the latest OS (like Windows 10), fix bugs or add new features. 

These updates include everything from enabling a system so it can run Hyper-V for a few Guest OSs to fixing video cards so they work with Windows 10 drivers. Is there still a possibility a failed BIOS update can cause an issue? Yes. However, in my 20 years of experience, I have never run into a problem, and I've updated the BIOS on a countless number of boxes during my tech and home career. Probably over 1000+ desktops and servers.

For example, I have a Lenovo X1 Carbon and the first time I installed Windows 10 on it, I was almost dead in the water. My Video, Network and Docking Station was not working correctly. Using WIFI, I managed to scan the Lenovo site and found they added Windows 10 support to the X1 after a BIOS update. I flashed the system using the Lenovo Provided ThinkVantage System Update which watches all Drivers and the BIOS and notifies me when I need to update. After the flash, all was good. Since then, Lenovo updates the BIOS/Firmware on the laptop every 60 days or so. I always take the update.

The same example applies to a Mac or iPhone. Each time Apple updates your device, the also update the BIOS. Even my ASUS Wifi Router at home is updated monthly with a BIOS flash.

Precautions

Like @Rich-M mentioned, you want to make sure you never interrupt a system while it's updating its BIOS. If it's a laptop, make sure you have a full charge and keep it plugged into power while it's updating. If it's a desktop, make sure there's no kids around who might power it off while updating and there's little chance your home will lose power. 

Like anything, everyone's situation may be different. Out of the 1 Billion computers out there, will some of them brick while updating BIOS? Probably yes. Will it be you? I hope not. Has it ever happened to me? No. Then again, nowadays I only buy new HW from Apple, Dell and Lenovo and they all have specific tools for updating the computer components.

So far, so good...

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Hi! I've checked my old Toshiba laptop for BIOS up dates. I have never see one. If it ain't broke,don't fix it!;)

3 hours ago, Steve K. said:

Since then, Lenovo updates the BIOS/Firmware on the laptop every 60 days or so

Wow I never heard that before. That's amazing! I don't think I understand BIOS!

http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/BIOS-basic-input-output-system

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1 hour ago, allheart55 (Cindy E) said:

Why would any builder mismatch their hardware.

Ah no worries. What I meant was -- ASUS motherboard, NVidia Video Card, Intel CPU, 3rd Party eSata Card(s), Broadcom NIC, 3rd Party Sound Card / Video Capture Card, TV Signal Input, etc... etc.... Normally when I used to build a system, I would buy the best components for each part. Typical when building a custom box. Never had an issue with this however, it "could" add to the complexity with updates in the future vs. going with a pre-built Lenovo or Dell where it's all integrated and tested.

Granted, the trade-off is a pre-built box will cost more and usually limit your upgrade options in the future. If you're not a hardware geek, I recommend a pre-built for most home users. If you're a gamer and like to have full control over your box, case, upgrades, I say go custom. 

Did that answer your question?

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3 hours ago, holdum333 said:

Wow I never heard that before.

Yeah... it's a bit more than I've ever experienced. Granted, my Mac seems to get an update often as well (although not always a BIOS/FIRMWARE update...). I probably exaggerated a big on every 60 days but it seems like it sometimes. Probably closer to... every 3-4 months I get an update.

Here's the Change history on the BIOS. Scroll to the bottom and notice a few of the notes from Lenovo on the update. Just looking at a few of the latest updates, you can see Security is one of the main items they address...

<2.74>
 UEFI: 2.74 / ECP: 1.06
-[Important] Update includes security fixes.

<2.73>
 UEFI: 2.73 / ECP: 1.06
- (New) Updated the CPU microcode.
- (New) Updated the Computrace module to 945_VN.

<2.72>
 UEFI: 2.72 / ECP: 1.06
- [Important] Fixed security vulnerability (LEN-2015-002, LEN-3556 and other fixes).
        (Note)
        If the UEFI BIOS has been updated to version 2.64 or higher, it is no
        longer able to roll back to the version before 2.64 for security improvement.

<2.71>
 UEFI: 2.71 / ECP: 1.06
- [Important] Added support for Microsoft Windows 10 64bit.

<2.71>
 UEFI: 2.71 / ECP: 1.06
- [Important] Mitigate risk of security vulnerability related to DRAM Row
        Hammering.
- (New) Updated the Diagnostics module to version 2.06.00.

 

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Thanks for your reply @Steve K. You're above my pay grade friend. I have never been there before, but I'm sure Cindy and others can follow you, and may or may not comment.

I have only flashed the BIOS one time on a old HP lap top that was given to me by a senior; and it worked. It would BSOD all the time and that was my last resort. Gave it to my daughter and she still has it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm sure I'm be hide the times and need to do some more reading on the subject! I came here to learn new things and I'm doing that all the time.;)

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12 hours ago, Rich-M said:

The way I always say it, is flash a bios only when you have an issue, that you know a certain Bios flash will remedy and don't do it on a day where there is any likelihood of a thunderstorm or any other possible downed power line possibility. Now that said there are some motherboards i.e. Gigabyte who for some time have been making boards with dual bios which would protect against any of the scenarios I was pointing to and those boards are not in brand name computers.

Hi @Vadim I think @Rich-M has replied the way I feel about this subject.

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Hey Steve,

Some of us are builders and while we don't have advanced techs working to blend system hardware so it runs well together, the truth of the matter is neither do they!

Dell and HP today are buying the least expensive components they can find on "spot markets" and they "slap" them all together too so don't let them baffle you with their BS as the days of quality hardware study are gone on all except the very expensive units that would hopelessly embarrass them if they didn't.

Today it is more a question of hardware being relevant to software. 10 years ago you could throw 4 mismatched sticks of ram into a motherboard and as long as the speeds were the same they would run fine. Today if the memory is even a different batch number and same model number the memory may not work and we know this by reading or hitting the power button better and faster than any branded resource does! We all have our favorites and most of those come from the brands we return the least of quite honestly. As long as you remain within the same time period of hardware and software manufacture you have the best chance of success and that is where the home builder gets into trouble by trying to save a $ or two carrying forward some hardware that he or she shouldn't into a new build.

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