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BIOS from A to Z

42. Flash Your System From Diskette

You’ll need a bootable DOS diskette to start this process rolling. To build one of these, start by selecting My Computer from the Start menu. Right-click the floppy drive icon that appears inside that window. Select "Format..." in the pop-up menu that appears, then click the checkbox next to "Create an MS-DOS startup disk" in the resulting format window. Click "Start" to begin the formatting process, then close the "Format 3 1/2" Floppy" window when it finishes. Erase all the files on the newly formatted diskette, and copy the Flash tool and the BIOS file onto the diskette (for example, this would mean "awdflash.exe" and "w6330vms.360" for a relatively current Award BIOS version).

To install the new BIOS into the flash memory chip using a startup diskette, reboot the PC and make sure it boots from the diskette. Next, invoke the BIOS Setup program by striking the required key during initial startup. Select the "Advanced BIOS Features, Boot Sequence" menu entries (which may also appear as "Advanced, Advanced BIOS Features" on some machines). Make sure the value "Floppy" is set for the "1st Boot Device" option. Exit the sub-menu using the escape [Esc] key. Use the [F10] key to end this Setup session, and be sure to retain your changes by striking to [Y] to answer "Yes" when asked if you want to save your changes.

43. Flashing The BIOS From DOS

Double-check that your machine has a steady and reliable source of power. As mentioned earlier, don’t flash the BIOS on any notebook computer while it’s running on its batteries - make sure it’s plugged into a wall socket.

Reboot your PC and boot from the diskette you created with the Flash tool and BIOS file. When the prompt to "Enter the name of the command interpreter..." appears, enter the name of the Flash program, followed by the name of the BIOS file itself (this looks like

A :\>awdflash.exe w6330vms.360

in our Award BIOS example). The program will take over and guide you through the rest of the process.

While the names of the Flash tool and the BIOS file may be different on your PC - for example, "awdfl789.exe" and "w6330vms.250" - the approach remains the same. Follow the instructions on the monitor and respond to all back-up and archive related queries. For every update, save a copy of your old BIOS to a file, as shown in Screenshot P. This backup will let you get back in business should the new BIOS cause problems after it’s installed.

Finally, the Flash program will rewrite the BIOS image to the flash memory where it will then reside. Restart your PC once this action is complete. Make very sure that your PC doesn’t lose power or get turned off during the update process, or you’ll gain a new (and probably unwanted) appreciation for this bit of computer jargon : "the machine is in an indeterminate state".