New laptop and a Nasty Scare...

I've recently bought a Dell Studio 15 and, while very pleased with the laptop, the performance and the speed, I was rather taken aback when I updated the BIOS. It hung. Indeed it broke! The term used on the Internet forums is that I 'bricked it' or made my laptop into something with all the usefullness of a house brick.
It was a deceptively easy thing to do. I simply popped my Dell service tag into the Dell web site on and downloaded the BIOS file that was recommended for my machine from the Dell website. I downloaded the file to my laptop, followed the installation instructions which were:
  1. Click Download Now to download the latest BIOS file.
    The File Download window appears.
  2. Click Save to save the file on your desktop. The file downloads to your desktop.
  3. Click Close if the Download Complete window appears.
    The file icon appears on your desktop and is titled the same as the downloaded BIOS update file.
  4. Double-click the file icon on the desktop and follow the instructions on the screen.
Even the software itself had further instructions - basically make sure the laptop was on the power supply and that all other applications were closed and your work saved. Then press OK. Easy.
Now before I go further, I should tell you that I have been updating the BIOS on computers since the now very old PC-AT - PC's that were based on the Intel 286 processor running at a staggering 12MHz.  I'll also add that I had never had a problem with a BIOS update before.  Not ever.  Until now...  What happened?
The software (WinPhlash) begins by backing up the old BIOS to a file on your hard disk and then proceeds to erase / reprogramme each 'block' in the BIOS memory, counting down from 84. My laptop got to 'Erasing block 69 of 84' and stopped.
There is a feeling of both hot and cold that flows down your neck at this point, believe me. What next? Do I sit and wait? Do I turn the computer off? Because the danger is that it would not turn on again (hence the term 'bricked'). Luckily I have more than one computer, so there was an anxious search on the Internet for 'failed Dell Studio BIOS update' and 'Failed Dell BIOS recovery'. I found that a nice person called "Kizwan" on the forum had had similar issues and I followed through with his recovery procedure which was as follows:
  1. Prepare a USB flash drive using a program called Wincrisis and a suitable BIOS version
  2. Unplug the power from your 'bricked' laptop
  3. Disconnect and remove the battery
  4. Plug the prepared USB flash drive into the laptop
  5. Press and hold the End key
  6. Plug in the power cord
  7. Release the End key. At this point the battery indicator light should light up amber or orange. No buttons work - not even the on/off power button!!
  8. Wait for a while. After some minutes, the battery indicator will start to flash orange and white. This is good. It means the laptop recovery is working.
  9. Once the recovery process is complete the laptop will reboot itself and Windows will restart.
You may get a message that Windows didn't shut itself down properly. Just select the option to "Start Windows Normally" and all should be well. Don't forget to remove the USB flash drive when the laptop restarts.
The last step here is to breath a huge sigh of relief. Huge respect and thanks to Kizwan for this. The forum thread with this and a whole lot more info about the Dell Studio 1557 model is here (Go to page 135 and thread #1344)
There you go. All recovered and back to full working order. Thankfully.

No comments:

Post a Comment