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Windows 7: Flash BIOS from operating system?

15 Jun 2012   #21

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by upiter77 View Post
Normally, I update BIOS if I have hardware compatibility issues with larger RAM, new CPUs, larger hard drives or problems with USB devices and I read before on the support websites, what should be fixed exactly with a new update.
I never try to update a BIOS, just to be updated, if I don't need a new fix, why should I do?
That's what I was alluding to earlier, but your line of thinking is correct. I updated drivers when their newer, but the BIOS is different. If the system works...I leave it alone.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2012   #22

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by DeaconFrost View Post
jumanji, I'm going to explain the process, at least on all the many systems I deal with. Take a moment to read through, and if you want to stop deabting it and ask questions, do so and we'll continue.

1. You run the utility in Windows, which loads or downloads the BIOS file. It is loaded into a storage area on the motherboard. This is usually done after a version and compatibility check is done. You are then prompted to reboot.

2. Upon reboot, your motherboard takes over and goes into it's own processes of taking the file and updating the actual BIOS on the board. You see a 'DOS-like" screen, meaning it is plain text on a black background. This is not Windows, not DOS, and not any other OS. It's the board itself. You will see the progress, along with a confirmation message.

3. The system then reboots again, going through the CMOS process as normal, and then on to Windows again and back to normal. Some apps will reappear in Windows to give you a final confirmation and summary.

Once again I'm left with one unanswered question. What part of that makes you think it is more risky? If you had the BIOS on a flash drive and used a board's own internal hot key upon boot...the process of the actual flashing would be identical. If you created a DOS boot disc, well, now you are running another OS, like Windows, that is outside the control of the board, relying on another executable file, to flash the BIOS.

That's the frustrating part about this. You claim to only want answers, but you are skipping right over them. All we're trying to do is explain the process and why there's nothing to fear (nothing extra to fear over any other BIOS flash method).

To address one more of your points, if the Windows utility loaded the new BIOS, flashed the new BIOS, and didn't prompt for a restart...that could be worrisome. However, despite what you contend, that isn't how it's done in reality.

As for your last point...there is no flashing done from within Windows. You ask which is safer, Windows or DOS, yet you fail to see that you aren't even comparing apples to apples. The Windows utilities load the file so the board itself can handle the update. The DOS method still requires an OS and an executable file to handle the process....there very same thing you are so fearful of in Windows.
Thank you DeconFrost for your detailed reply.

I still have a few queries.

1. "at least on all the many systems I deal with": This at once raises a flag that it may not be universally applicable to all systems/manufacturers. If it isn't a defence secret, can you please specify the systems you deal with?

Why am I asking this?: Even earlier I had noted that you had mentioned of a first reboot. Keeping this in mind, I checked how Lenovo executes the Winflash. Lenova uses Phoenix Winphlash. The Technical Reference gives a step by step account of how the flashing goes. I closely scrutinised for any first boot. None. All the GUI were Windows GUI. After successful completion flashing, Windows is rebooted the first time signifying that the complete flashing taks place within Windows.( I had mentioned this in Note 2 in my post # 17.)

If we know which are all the systems that employ the flashing method you had described, it will enable us to give a targeted advice to any one who raises this issue specifying his system.

2. "It is loaded into a storage area on the motherboard.": Can you please specify the exact location of this storage area and by what name is it called?

Why am I asking this?:To my mind that cannot be the motherboard RAM for as I perceive anything in it will vanish when Windows shuts down and reboots.

Now to answer your query"What part of that makes you think it is more risky?":

I had already mentioned it in my post #10:

"Be it Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME,Windows XP", Windows Vista or Windows 7, the fact remains that Windows loads a lot of drivers and processes and possibly some programs too into the memory which can interfere with the flashing process and can spoil the broth.

In contrast, flashing with DOS provides a drastically much cleaner and therefore much safer memory environment. The user has to just make sure that the process is not interrupted.

The normal cautionary note/s given for flashing from within Windows (apart from make sure that there is no interruption) are, Close all open Windows, exit any startup programs, disable any antivirus/ antimalware programs and any oher programs tha may run in the background. shut down unwanted processes etc.,

Some experts do not even want the flashing to be run in Safe Mode either where a minimal drivers and processes are loaded into the memory.

If 100% flashing is executed from within Windows these will remain relevant.

Honestly, I have not come across anyone mentioning the Windows flashing method you had described (where the actual flashing occurs outside Windows)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2012   #23

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Now we are getting somewhere....questions and discussions.

1. I'll try to remember all off hand. I've been working in IT for 15 years and building systems for the same amount of time (personally, for friends and family). For the major OEMs, I've only ever extensively dealt with Dell and HP. Both offer Windows executables, and both handle the actual BIOS update outside of Windows. For the systems I build, I have always stuck with Intel, Gigabyte, or Asus. These all had similar Windows executables. In the past I've used BioStar for budget builds, along with Asrock, and for years my board maker of choice was Abit (may they rest in peace). They all had similar tools. It's been a while since I've gonee outside my big three (Gigabyte, Intel, and Asus). Intel offers four methods, with no specific warnings for any...aside from general BIOS update warnings that apply to all. They refer to it as EB, or Express BIOS.

2. You are correct that it isn't system memory, aka RAM. I'm a little surprised you'd be asking this question, given that you've spent so much time arguing in previous posts. The BIOS is stored on the motherboard on a specific chip. Those chips contain memory, and what you see getting rewritten if you have a visual flash program...that shows the blocks. Those chips contain much more storage than the BIOS file actually requires, so you can preload one version. Some board makers, like Gigabyte, put two chips on their boards, aka DualBIOS, so if one fails or has an issue, you can load the other.

3. Now I think we've gotten to the crux of the dispute. I, in turn, have never encountered a process where the BIOS file was actually flashed from within Windows. That was the very point I tried to make early on...that the file is just prepped and loaded. That's why i suggested reading through some guides or manuals to show the actual screens that appear after the splash or POST on the motherboard. In the past, AV apps could prompt you or warn you if you tried running one of these Windows executables. Some motherboards even had warnings that would pop up on screen, if enabled. That's all been a thing of the past. Now, I with my Dell updates, I need to select "Run as admin" and that's it. If I don't, I'll get an error before the process starts.

I'd love to know if there are examples of BIOS flashes that occur completely within the running Windows session. That would make me pause to do more research. I have never personally encountered one, though. I will check with Gigabyte to see if I can find a screenshot of the CMOS screen just after POST that appears during the actual BIOS updating.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

16 Jun 2012   #24

W7 Home Premium 32bit

You're both right.

Although I don't do the volume of work you two gentlemen ascribe (I've scaled down a lot in the last seven years), I've accomplished flashes both ways.

I can remember 40-50 done, 7 or 8 years ago, completely within windows; with a screen showing the burn process entirely inside the Windows OS. Bricked one pc.

I'm guessing that has gone out of favor the last couple of years. But it may depend on the board. If the only app running is WinFlash, on a known stable OS, and your pc's are on UPS's, I wouldn't feel insecure about the process.

I remember 4 or 5 mobos which only offered bios upgrades inside of Windows.

Put a gun to my head, I'd do DOS burns, but that wasn't the gist of the thread.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Jun 2012   #25

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

For the record, none of the brands I mentioned use a program file called WinFlash. Once again, the flashing is not done from within Windows. This post is directed at pscowboy....check out the details.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Flash BIOS from operating system?

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