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BIOS flash with a USB floppy

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October 7, 2006 2:19:23 PM

I've only flashed a bios once within windows. To do it from a floppy will a USB drive work?

More about : bios flash usb floppy

a b V Motherboard
October 7, 2006 3:27:06 PM

Yes a usb floppy will be auto recognized as the A:\ drive, also neccesary for loading RAID or Sata drivers at the F6 prompt on an XP install, for machines that do not have a internal floppy drive.
October 7, 2006 3:33:27 PM

Thanks. Follow up question...is it better to flash the bios from a floppy instead of withing windows (for when you CAN do it within windows)?
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a b V Motherboard
October 7, 2006 4:47:07 PM

Thats really a matter of opinion, I guess I'm from the old school and have always flashed from a floppy, thats the best way in my opinion because usually you backup the original BIOS to disk in the flashing process and can always flash back if something goes wrong with the flashing process.

I'm not really a gambler so I want what I need on hand to flash my BIOS with, IE; the flashing tool, and backup flashes just in case, and normally I have downloaded and have on hand, more than 1 downloaded flash from the M/Bs website.

The most important BIOS flashing tip I can give you is in the case of a failed flash, Never turn the computer off!, you can always restart the flashing process and flash to a backup flash, but if you turn off the computer the M/B is usually toast.

Flashing a M/B BIOS is probably the most serious thing you'll ever do to your M/B and if the newly available BIOS flash doesn't address things you're having problems with then don't bother to flash it, just because the M/B website releases a flash doesn't mean it wiil have any performance effects for you, it may only cover the latest CPU release recognition which may not have a thing to do with your situation.

So make sure the flash is beneficial to you and you need it or don't flash at all.
October 7, 2006 8:30:32 PM

Quote:
Yes a usb floppy will be auto recognized as the A:\ drive, also neccesary for loading RAID or Sata drivers at the F6 prompt on an XP install, for machines that do not have a internal floppy drive.


Not necessarily true, unfortunately...

While any external USB floppy will be recognized by your computer, you will not be able to "F6" your floppy unless it is one of only three models.

After some research into this matter, I've found out that Microsoft has approved of only three models of external USB Floppy Drives for the installation of Windows XP (using F6) - and of those, I've only been able to find one available online. It's an IBM part number #27L4226, and it's available at geeks.com. It may come as an IBM or Mitsumi. the other model is a Sony #09K9835 (hard to find).

You may also find the IBM part # on ebay for about $10, or so I've read. But it's about $17 on Geek.com, and it seems to only come in silver, which doesn't match my black rig, but it will only be used to install my Windows XP Pro x-64, so its color doesn't really matter. At least now I know that I don't have to install a permanent floppy drive on my front panel just for the installation.

http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=27L4226
a b V Motherboard
October 8, 2006 1:21:06 AM

Quote:
While any external USB floppy will be recognized by your computer, you will not be able to "F6" your floppy unless it is one of only three models.



And thats not necessarily true! Unfortunately :roll:


Mine is manufactured bySmartdisk and it has worked every time I've had to use it, and its not one of your list of only 3 either, and it works just fine for BIOS flashing, and F6 WinXP installations.
October 8, 2006 3:00:12 AM

Quote:
While any external USB floppy will be recognized by your computer, you will not be able to "F6" your floppy unless it is one of only three models.



And thats not necessarily true! Unfortunately :roll:


Mine is manufactured bySmartdisk and it has worked every time I've had to use it, and its not one of your list of only 3 either, and it works just fine for BIOS flashing, and F6 WinXP installations.


Well, is it possible that the drive could be manufactured by Smartdisk with parts made by IBM, Sony or Mitsumi? Here's the reference:
http://www.techthoughts.com/techthoughts/computer_hardw...
a b V Motherboard
October 8, 2006 6:05:23 AM

No offence but the guy that wrote the article you linked to was a little ditsified in the first place he stated he successfully loaded the drivers using the F6 input command, then lost them when he formatted the HDD the only way he could have lost them was to have done a zero fill or what some call a LLF and then shutdown the computer, causing everything in the setup files sent to the RAM to be lost.

WinXP won't allow you to completely format the entire HDD it always saves 8mb of your HDD for its setup, haven't you ever noticed the little 8mb partition you can't touch.


Quote from your article link.

Quote:
I restarted the install process and pressed F6. Success! I was able to install the SATA RAID driver and proceed through the next stages. I happily watched the various files flood the system and then reached the screen to choose the install location. I chose the only drive on the system (the c drive). I was then prompted to format the drive and of course did. FAILURE!

What? This is where a tricky part comes into play. As noted, the floppy drive was successfully used after pressing the F6 button... but when it came to formatting, I received one of two responses: an error stating Windows was unable to format the drive and perhaps the drive was damaged OR to insert the driver into the floppy drive.

The first error occurred because Windows was no longer able to use the driver, which makes sense if it is on a drive that is to be formatted. The second message indicated something larger. Clearly the A drive had worked before when pressing F6 but then it stopped being recognized. It ends up that Windows XP (all editions) is only able to recognize three USB floppy drive types:

Mitsumi
Y-E Data; Sony part number 09K9835
TEAC; IBM option part number 27L4226, FRU 05K9283



In the article just below this quote is a link to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article that lists the 3 floppy drives above, Smartdisk is a stand alone company as far as I could research they have no ties to Mitsumi, Sony, or IBM, but the Smartdisk will install the drivers through the F6 command, I've done it, and I have no reason what so ever to lie here and purposely hand out false information.

I really don't know why Smartdisk is not listed in that Knowledge Base article maybe they need to update it, because I've had mine for over a year, and done a few installs with it, but what do you really expect? Its Microsoft.

Or just maybe Smartdisk corporation gave their USB Floppy the right ID String, who knows. :roll:
October 8, 2006 7:33:55 AM

1) Whether any particular USB Floppy will work for Windows installation depends on your motherboard BIOS emulation, if it does trick Windows into thinking it's a floppy drive.

2) If your bios can do #1, you might try a USB thumbdrive, as there's no reason to use a USB floppy if you don't have to. With bios that can emulate a USB floppy sufficient to fool windows, there is a reasonable chance it uses same emulation with another device, BUT some bios that even could, might have that setting hidden. You'd just have to try it and see...

3) Boot a CDR or DVD to flash the bios if all else fails, or if you have a FAT16 or 32 hard drive, whatever you have that will boot to DOS will flash the bios fine. Frankly, using a USB floppy to flash a bios seems a bad thing to do since your board had to be able to boot USB already, and among all possible USB devices you're using the one device with frail media susceptible to failure far more often than any other type. Granted, usually it work work fine and you won't have a floppy disk failure, but MOST ways to flash work fine too- we're talking about that minor chance of a problem and how to make that even less likely.

4) For emergency BIOS recovery, like when your board bios is unworkable and all you can do is hope the bootblock seeks a floppy, in that special recovery mode the vast majority of motherboards cannot boot a USB floppy, ONLY a regular floppy as the Super I/O chip handles that natively without further bios code necessary.

5) Flashing from Windows is the most risky, you add another layer of complication, something that can go wrong. This is contrasted to flashing from DOS with a reliable media type as mentioned above, not from a floppy. Thus, booting to a flash memory based device to DOS to flash the bios is the best way if/when your board can do it.
December 14, 2011 9:52:19 AM

I need ask help (at 4ryan6) for my problem. :ange: 

HP Compaq Presario notebook 2101 EU

I have downloaded last BIOS Update at official web site (v.1.73) :
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Softwa...

After correctly running WinFlash Phoenix utlity and performed alls 8 step program my notebook stopping with black screen. Any operation was immpossible so i do power off my notebook.At netx power on pc dont' starting an power down after 2/3 seconds after flashing hdd, num lock and caps on leds near at power button.

At FTP Compaq I have found the reference techical guide of my notebook model (now strangely does not work) :
ftp://ftp.compaq.com/pub/supportinformation/techpubs/ma...

I have read that Compaq use an “boot-block jumper” that you can found at page 2-61 to perform a boot from floppy and by pushin of Fn-B keys when connect power jack at pc.

My PC haven't floppy drive inside so i can use only a external floppy (that I have reached now).

I know exist an CRISIS FLOPPY DISK to perform this operation to permit RELIVE my dead BIOS. I can't replace IC PLCC32 on mainboard because is soldered directly on m/b without socket (compaq save few cents on any m/b :pfff:  )

I have tried to perform a bootable CDROM to connect on USB port but don't starting ('cause 3 second don't permit none open bay inside CDROM to put iside disk) :??: 

I ask help or any good info about this problem that I THINK made especially for owners of old PCs !!! :non: 

THANKS!!!

Similar problem on these forum :
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/52761-20-unable-boo...
December 14, 2011 8:56:45 PM

I said:
1) Whether any particular USB Floppy will work for Windows installation depends on your motherboard BIOS emulation, if it does trick Windows into thinking it's a floppy drive.

2) If your bios can do #1, you might try a USB thumbdrive, as there's no reason to use a USB floppy if you don't have to. With bios that can emulate a USB floppy sufficient to fool windows, there is a reasonable chance it uses same emulation with another device, BUT some bios that even could, might have that setting hidden. You'd just have to try it and see...

3) Boot a CDR or DVD to flash the bios if all else fails, or if you have a FAT16 or 32 hard drive, whatever you have that will boot to DOS will flash the bios fine. Frankly, using a USB floppy to flash a bios seems a bad thing to do since your board had to be able to boot USB already, and among all possible USB devices you're using the one device with frail media susceptible to failure far more often than any other type. Granted, usually it work work fine and you won't have a floppy disk failure, but MOST ways to flash work fine too- we're talking about that minor chance of a problem and how to make that even less likely.

4) For emergency BIOS recovery, like when your board bios is unworkable and all you can do is hope the bootblock seeks a floppy, in that special recovery mode the vast majority of motherboards cannot boot a USB floppy, ONLY a regular floppy as the Super I/O chip handles that natively without further bios code necessary.

5) Flashing from Windows is the most risky, you add another layer of complication, something that can go wrong. This is contrasted to flashing from DOS with a reliable media type as mentioned above, not from a floppy. Thus, booting to a flash memory based device to DOS to flash the bios is the best way if/when your board can do it.


1. not true. See below
2. same as 1
3. ok by me
4. but if they see the USB floppy, then any USB stick can be used (if formatted with FAT...FAT32 can cause problems for some BIOSes)
5. true...complications means malware, some drivers...but it ususally works.

As for the XP floppy install, there are 2 conditions that need to be fulfilled (the access is done in 2 phases):
- BIOS provides floppy emulation - this emulation is used on "F6" prompt, and this works for most floppies, even small flash sticks
- USB vendor/device is in an installation file (txtsetup.sif maybe). This is necessary for when the driver is copied to installation target.
The driver from the floppy is read 2 times, 1st to load the driver in RAM and execute it and 2nd to copy the driver to the installation folder. The 1st reading is done through BIOS, while the 2nd reading is done thought windows 32-bit drivers which share nothing with BIOS. So while a floppy could allow you to see the drive, when installing to that drive it could go into a "insert floppy" loop. I don't recall if "skip" is an option, but if it is, the new install will not boot.
December 15, 2011 4:02:08 PM

I flash in windows. I have never had an issue. Programs are getting better all the time. Just make sure you use your mobo manufacturers programs no some wishywashy program from tardboi.net. As it can be a delicate process. if your mobo supports booting from usb u can use a flash drive some flash programs may require a certain file system. Most flashes come with instructions on the d/l page. If you use a usb floppy the system will see it as a usb drive anyway. windows will see it as what it is... a floppy.
February 18, 2012 7:37:50 PM

It's February of 2102 now.

I'm not so certain that MS can bless all USB floppy devices that work with Windows XP install (besides the three mentioned). That's simply not the case with many other devices. I've read anecdotes to indicate otherwise. (I've never owned a USB floppy drive--I shall soon, though. I'm very concerned, however, that most usb floppy drives may have brutally used laptop innards--or, at least, those innards are very old. I'm concerned about that not working.)

Thus, I'm interested, also, in using USB flash devices in place of a floppy--it may prove useful to have a longer-term solution for XP. I suppose, though, that much hinges upon a motherboard and its BIOS.

Thanks, Mathew7! I now know first to try booting DOS from a USB stick with this low-end AM3 motherboard which I want to use with XP (it lacks FDD pins); that board uses open source now.

Using a USB stick, I wonder about invoking F6 to install SATA drivers, though: I suppose, then, that a "test run" on that sys with the XP disk is in order. It's either permitted, or it's not....

As for BIOS update--or, even FDISK, I need to find out how to get a USB stick to boot, anyway. I've never owned one--that's easily rectified at Wally World, though. (Actually, I do have a microSD string device which inserts into usb.) Sure, I'd use FAT 16. (I do know that open source is booted from those--certainly, booting is possible.)

As for using a floppy to upgrade the BIOS, after booting, one should copy the new BIOS to the ramdisk--then, if the floppy fails, the ramdisk still will include the BIOS: Updating without disaster may yet still prove possible. (Someone taught me this after my floppy did fail--my MB was toast. Later on, I did use this method without incident.)
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