How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboard’s System BIOS

Flash Drive Flashing
I suppose I should begin with my own disclaimer:

NOTE:  Though updating your motherboard’s BIOS is normal and common, there are some risks involved.  This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered instructions for BIOS flashing.  Consult the instructions included with your motherboard for precise instructions for flashing its BIOS.  ThinkComputers.org accepts no responsibility for damage you may do to your computer.

There are two basic ways to flash the BIOS…flashing outside of the operating system with a thumb drive, or flashing within the operating system environment with a BIOS flashing utility.  I suppose that you can still use a floppy, but why would you want to?  Actually, you can’t with Asus, because their flash utility, Afudos, is 2MB, and a 3.5” floppy holds 1.44MB.

Be aware that every motherboard manufacturer’s methods of flashing are different.  There will be instructions for both flash drive and software flashing in your motherboard’s installation manual.  If you threw that away…NEVER THROW THEM AWAY!…you can usually download the manual from their website.  Some manufacturers have instructions on the download page.  Regardless, you need to read those instructions.

Also, be aware that a motherboard BIOS is specific to that model and that model only.  Occasionally the BIOS will be the same between two similar models, but that is fairly rare.  Double check that you are about to download the correct BIOS for your individual motherboard model.

Determine the version of your BIOS, either by using CPUZ, Sandra, or entering the BIOS.  The BIOS version is usually displayed during POST, but usually so fast you can’t read it.  Next, find your motherboard’s page at the manufacturer’s website.   Normally there will be a “download” section on this page for downloading drivers, utilities, and BIOS updates.  I assume even before I look that this particular motherboard, an Asus M4A785TD-V EVO will have updates, if for nothing else to accommodate the new AMD 6-core processor.

How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS
Actually, looking at the different BIOS for this board is an excellent example of what I was talking about earlier, the different reasons for new versions of the BIOS.  There are 15 different updates since the initial release in September 2009, the latest being April 22, 2010.  Some are to add new CPUs, others, including the final BIOS, are changes to increase system stability.  See what I mean here.

Download the latest BIOS.  Again, read the instructions, they will tell you.  Extract the files if necessary.  Asus .ROM files are zipped. Remove the files from any folders and place in the root of a flash drive.  It is ok to have other files on the drive, but I usually remove any other BIOS  files for other motherboards from the drive just in case.

Using a flash drive is a very safe and handy way to update the BIOS.  Most motherboards have provisions to flash the BIOS without even having to enter the BIOS, just press a particular key during POST.  On this Asus board I pressed ALT + F2 to enter EZ Flash 2.  I placed the flash drive with the new BIOS in a USB port, and started the computer, and began pressing ALT + F2 when POST started.

When EZ Flash 2 launches you will realize that you actually could have put the BIOS file in the root directory of a hard drive, or on a CD, the utility gives you a choice of all drives found during POST.  I pressed “Tab” to change windows, and cursored down to my flash drive.  I cursored down to the .ROM file and hit “Enter”.  Yes…I am sure.

How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS
First EZ Flash 2 checks the boot block of the new BIOS.  If it had been for a different motherboard, or if there had been some kind of problem, I would not have been allowed to continue.  At one time you also could not flash an older BIOS on an Asus board, but that no longer is the case I’m pretty sure.  I did not try.

Next EZ Flash 2 starts checking out the main part of the BIOS file.  Again, if it had been corrupted, EZ Flash 2 would not allow the update.

How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS
Then the old BIOS is erased, and the new one copied in its place.

How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS
Once EZ Flash 2 is done, the system restarts.  Be aware that all of the settings in the BIOS are now at their default, and if you have any tweaks that you like, from killing the POST splash screen to a full blown overclock, you need to enter the BIOS and change them.  Otherwise you can continue booting the system.

How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS How to Flash (Update) Your Motherboards System BIOS
Again, this procedure is what my Asus board happens to use.  Though they will be similar, a motherboard by any other brand will have somewhat different procedures for flashing.

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