4 Replies Latest reply on Mar 22, 2011 9:44 PM by Sunfox

    Whether or not to update an old BIOS to solve a boot problem?

    okieman

      After I installed an external USB Western Digital hard drive for the automatic weekly backups of my C and D drive, I discovered a problem. If I tried to restart the PC (Antec Sonata w/Windows XP SP3) with the drive plugged in, the startup would freeze at the very first step of the boot process where it shows the blue "Intel Inside" screen. Since my BIOS is configured to try first to boot from the CD drive (in case I have to use the Symantec emergency recovery disk), I tried that with thte disk but no luck. I don't think it ever even got to the point in the BIOS where "boot from CD drive" is configured. I posted to the Western Digital forum, and after we confirmed that I didn't have any spyware or similar programs pointed at the external drive, someone said this type of issue would probably be resolved if I updated my BIOS. I haven't done that since I bought the PC six years ago. The problem is, I've been told that updating the BIOS is risky. I'd like to hear several opinions from you who know more than I do.

       

      By the way, I used the Intel online scanning tool to check for updates I needed and it found three: 1-the latest BIOS, 2-an audio driver which I have some doubt about because Intel's driver-needed page says it was for a D865GBFL board, but another tool identifies my board as a 82865GBF  (no L), and 3-a network adaptor driver (may not need since I'm not on a network, just a USB wireless connection to an in-house router that connects to the Web via cable).

        • 1. Re: Whether or not to update an old BIOS to solve a boot problem?
          Doc_SilverCreek

          There are 2 schools of thought on updating BIOS.

           

          1) If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

           

          This one is kind of short sighted since it assumes the "average guy" knows his computer hardware well enough to tell if some facet is not running at optimal.

           

          2) Always load the latest and greatest.

           

          Ok, some risk here since BIOS updates can fail. It does not happen very often. < 1%. But if the person who makes up that small percentage is you, it sucks and if everything is working fine, Why?

           

           

          My recommendation, for what it is worth is, if you are reading this trying to figure out if you should update, you likely should update.

          If everything was great, you would not be here.

           

           

          • Check the release notes to see if anything that is being fixed sounds like something you might be experiencing.
          • Before updating, read all the instructions and readme files. Many times the readme will contain notes like "you must be at bios 30 or higher to load this update." If your system is not at 30, you need to do a 2 step update. First to 30 then to the most current. Not doing this may lead to a dead board.
          • Read your products TPS to understand how both the BIOS flash and recovery work.
          • Most boards have a method to recover a failed BIOS update. Make sure you know the requirements to run the recovery and have the correct files and tools to run recovery. I know of one product line that the recovery will only work to the old BIOS level, so having the most current BIOS on a recovery disk will do you no good if the flash fails.
          • Technical Support for an issue. If you have a problem and call for technical support, the first requirement TS will give you is to update the code stack. No company wants to spend time debugging problems that may have already been fixed in a newer BIOS release.
          • Which brings me to my last point. New code, whither it is Driver, BIOS or Firmware cost the manufacture a bunch of money to write, test, validate and release. They do not release code just because it is the right time of the quarter. Each release is to fix one or more major bugs and when a product reaches "end of life" new BIOS is not release unless it fixes a very severe issue.

           

          With a 6 year old board, the latest BIOS posted was likely the last BIOS and should be very stable, but you are out of warranty and if it fails, you could be in the market for a new computer.

            

          One other note. USB boot priority. Most board BIOS assume that when you add a USB device (HDD, Floppy, key fob) you want to boot to it. I would guess that is what is happening to you. Your system detects the USB HDD and sets it to the first boot device then tries to boot to the USB back-up drive, which is not bootable, so the system hangs. BIOS set-up may have an option to disable USB boot or set USB boot priority to off. (My daughter had this happen. Her system keeps trying to boot to her ipod which the systems sees as a USB HDD till Dad came to visit and just shut off the USB Boot.)

            

          ( I am not totally sold on the update tool yet. It works pretty well, but I have seen it miss a lot also.) I would check the support page to make sure http://downloadcenter.intel.com/SearchResult.aspx?lang=eng&ProductFamily=Desktop+Boards&ProductLine=Intel%c2%ae+865+Chipset+Family+Boards&ProductProduct=Intel%c2%ae+Desktop+Board+D865GBF

           

           

          I see at lease 6 USB hang issues fixed in your boards BIOS releases notes, so would think that a BIOS update has a good chance of solving your issues.

          • 2. Re: Whether or not to update an old BIOS to solve a boot problem?
            okieman

            An important addendum for anyone with the same problem who finds this thread. At first I was frustrated by the advice about disabling the USB boot, because I didn't remember seeing that option in the BIOS "Boot" panel. Then I found another forum post on the Web where a guy said he discovered that if he plugged in the USB device that was causing the boot hang, then did a boot while pressing the appropriate key to enter the BIOS, the enable/disable USB option was there. I tried it and it worked. So, now I've disabled any attempts by the PC to boot from an installed USB device, and I didn't have to do a BIOS update that might have put me in that unhappy <1% of BIOS update failures.

             

            Doc_SilverCreek, your advice was so good I copied it into a Word document and saved it to the folder where I keep all Intel software/info.

            • 3. Re: Whether or not to update an old BIOS to solve a boot problem?
              okieman

              An important update to my previous addendum. I said that I found a way to disable the boot freeze when the USB external drive is plugged in. It took an extra step to find the place in the BIOS to disable an attempted boot from a USB device.

               

              The new development I discovered is that, this only works for a restart. For some bizarre reason, it will still freeze at the blue "Intel Inside" screen during a cold boot with the USB hard drive plugged in. Just an FYI.

              • 4. Re: Whether or not to update an old BIOS to solve a boot problem?
                Sunfox

                Should also be mentioned that release notes are rarely exaustive lists of what's been fixed or changed.

                 

                Question... when it freezes, how long are you waiting to determine that it's frozen? I mention this mostly because I've experienced and have read numerous reports about certain USB devices causing certain Intel boards to hang for longer than normal during boot. For example, I have a USB hub on my current D975XBX2 board that adds about 30 seconds longer boot time (just white blinking cursor) with nothing connected to the hub, and about 60 seconds if I have a number of devices connected. Originally I had two of them, and that doubled the delay again - let's just say my first thought was the board was dead.