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  • Update BIOS? If it ain't broke……

    Posted on dmt_3904 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Update BIOS? If it ain't broke……

    This topic contains 42 replies, has 20 voices, and was last updated by  Linda2019 5 days, 12 hours ago.

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    • #2007333 Reply

      dmt_3904
      AskWoody Plus

      I know I should keep my devices updated and I try to.  But I am cautious, isn’t that why we’re here?  So I am still on 1803 bc I’ve been waiting for the ‘right’ time.  Time is short now (will wait for Ask Woody on that, as per last newsletter).  I’ve read that I need to update drivers/BIOS to avoid issues.  Drivers – are ok, I think – sometimes it causes problems, so I don’t like to mess with them.  BIOS, Yikes! I’m scared. I’ve done it, once!  I want to keep it updated, but I’ve also seen advice that says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  Which I like.

      I don’t know if my BIOS is going to cause a problem when I update – probably will be to 1903 since I don’t think MS will jump directly from 1803 to 1909.  I have a Dell Latitude E5470 – it says there is an update.  When things go wrong, I am not technical enough to fix it, like a lot of you folks out there, so I’m nervous.  Must I update my BIOS and how can I tell for sure if it’s necessary before upgrading from 1803? thanks.

    • #2007392 Reply

      Alex5723
      AskWoody Plus

      BIOS, Yikes!

      I have updated BIOS so many times I lost count.
      My opinion is that BIOS update is mandatory as much as updating security applications (a/v…)..
      I always download the BIOS (.exe) file and then run it. I never let some OEM utility to install BIOS.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2007393 Reply

      CADesertRat
      AskWoody Plus

      Updating the BIOS depends on what the update does. See what it fixes on your Dell. I have an HP laptop and just got a “Critical” BIOS update which I installed. I’ve updated the BIOS on my Desktops also recently because there were some features that make my MB better.

      The critical thing on a BIOS update is to not lose power while it is updating. My Desktops are on UPS’s and obviously my laptop has a full battery charge and plugged in when I update.

      Check to see if you actually need the BIOS update before doing it. Good luck.

      Don't take yourself so seriously, no one else does 🙂
      4 Win 10 Pro currently 1809 (3 Desktops, 1 Laptop).

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2007471 Reply

        dmt_3904
        AskWoody Plus

        I checked the BIOS update (which is listed as “Urgent”) & it says this:

        –  Updated the Embedded Controller Engine firmware.  I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS IS OR IF I NEED IT. Couldn’t find any good info from the internet.
        – Modified battery algorithm to prolong lifespan and minimize risk of swelling. OK I CAN UNDERSTAND THIS.  I DON’T WANT MY BATTERY TO SWELL : D

        I haven’t updated my BIOS in a while – assume the latest version would have all prior updates?

        • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by  dmt_3904.
        • #2007488 Reply

          CADesertRat
          AskWoody Plus

          I haven’t updated my BIOS in a while – assume the latest version would have all prior updates?

          Yes, it should but read any notes accompanying it to make sure that you don’t have to have a previous BIOS installed to get the current BIOS.

          If it were my computer, I would update the BIOS since it is pretty simple to do as long as you keep power to it. It’s a decision you will have to make as to whether you want to do it or not.

          Don't take yourself so seriously, no one else does 🙂
          4 Win 10 Pro currently 1809 (3 Desktops, 1 Laptop).

          • #2007504 Reply

            dmt_3904
            AskWoody Plus

            ok i’ll give it a try. thanks for your help.

            • #2007524 Reply

              anonymous

              Quick tip for updating a Dell. After downloading the file right-click and unblock. Then right-click and run as administrator.

        • #2007521 Reply

          anonymous

          Intel’s Management Engine or AMD’s Platform Security Processor etc., they have very deep flaws themselves which need to be repaired.

          You are fortunate as many other companies do not disclose the reason for fixes or improvements.  And most of the time we get to find out from maybe the component manufacturer or third parties what some BIOS issues may be addressed by an update.

          Dell update the embedded controller firmware in a previous update, so it must be important.

    • #2007910 Reply

      Tex265
      AskWoody Plus

      I was also wondering if I needed to update the UEFI BIOS on my system built by Maingear with ASUS motherboard approx 18 months ago before moving from 1803 to 1903.

      There have been 6 updates since mine.  The ASUS site says very little about what they do other than a comment or two mainly performance improvement.

      I also know that Maingear makes some changes within the BIOS.  I also thought updating the BIOS changes everything back to factory defaults?  If true, then what?

      Also is the most current BIOS cumulative of all others?  There does not seem to be much difference in file sizes over the period.

      Many say leave well enough alone, but how do you know ahead of time if the next version of windows will think it is well enough to leave alone?

      Windows 10 Pro x64 v1903 and Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
      • #2007953 Reply

        dmt_3904
        AskWoody Plus

        Yes, this is exactly my dilemma! Many make regular BIOS updates and are fine, but you just don’t know when it will cause problems (same for drivers) – so yeah, leave well enough alone.  I don’t have a lot of technical knowledge and the ability to fix things myself when it goes sideways.   Of course, having knowledgeable, helpful people on this forum is great.  I have a recovery drive and backed up personal files (local & cloud).   I could probably muddle through – but it’s painful.   I usually have to take my laptop in to pay for support when it gets hosed up.

    • #2007972 Reply

      jabeattyauditor
      AskWoody Lounger

      Your system’s BIOS (and all other firmware) is simply software that is encoded in a chip (the simple explanation). It can have just as many bugs and vulnerabilities as software that is loaded by the end user.

      One man’s experience: I’ve never bricked a system doing a BIOS update in over 30 years. Your mileage may vary.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      b
      • #2007982 Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        Your system’s BIOS (and all other firmware) is simply software that is encoded in a chip (the simple explanation). It can have just as many bugs and vulnerabilities as software that is loaded by the end user.

        Exactly.

        And since firmware is the “bridge” between specific hardware models and fairly general software, well, the bugs will be sort of nastier that way too. Thermal management, power management, boot process, chipset features… hardware identity even (licensing bother sometimes)… peripheral device control.

        Battery life is a big one. A few years ago, there was a buggy firmware patch distributed on a few closely related laptop models that caused batteries to be permanently bricked if certain perfectly normal things happened. And that was typically installed to fix problems with external displays…

      • #2007996 Reply

        Tex265
        AskWoody Plus

        Sounds like you are a very cautious advocate regarding BIOS updating.

        So how do I determine whether I absolutely need to update for 1903 or not?

        Other than have it fail terribly.

        Windows 10 Pro x64 v1903 and Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
      • #2010871 Reply

        Erik_S47
        AskWoody Plus

        I actually did brick a motherboard during a BIOS update years ago. (My memory of the experience has gotten less painful over time.) It was a new motherboard for a new DIY computer build. Those were the days when you might go through a defective motherboard or two before you got one that actually worked. The install went well until I decided to do the BIOS update recommended in the user manual.

        The problem at that time was that I couldn’t download the update file and run it locally; I had to execute a remote file. Well, guess what, of course I lost the connection. The only thing I could do was buy a new motherboard. The store (I bought it locally) wouldn’t replace it, saying the problem was my fault, never mind the instructions in the manual.

        Since then I’ve never had any problem downloading and installing a BIOS update although I still do get a little nervous about it.

    • #2007981 Reply

      Tex265
      AskWoody Plus

      Thanks but what about …….

      I also thought updating the BIOS changes everything back to factory defaults? If true, then what? Also is the most current BIOS cumulative of all others? There does not seem to be much difference in file sizes over the period.

      Windows 10 Pro x64 v1903 and Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
      • #2007991 Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        I also thought updating the BIOS changes everything back to factory defaults? If true, then what?

        This is rare nowadays. Be a huge bother for large companies to redo all firmware-integrated asset tags and whatever…

        Still, can happen sometimes especially on DIY-type hardware, but the release notes should tell you.

        Also is the most current BIOS cumulative of all others? There does not seem to be much difference in file sizes over the period.

        That is pretty much model-dependent by definition.

        However… the firmware was traditionally an EEPROM chip that has to be reflashed all at once – all-zero blocks included. What the manufacturer did with the firmware’s source code might have been cumulative with the fixes and all, but the distribution package must be a full standalone.

        Some manufacturers were known to start branches of firmware if they ran out of room on the single EEPROM chip. So, you’d have to reflash to the other branch if you wanted to switch operating system versions with the latest applicable fixes, with those models… I think I last saw this with the Y2K-compliance patches for some of those…

    • #2007983 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      Factory defaults is always my starting point when things are not behaving. I rarely change them anyway.

      cheers, Paul

    • #2007994 Reply

      Tex265
      AskWoody Plus

      Thanks again but ….

      Could someone answer my specific questions:

      1. Does updating the BIOS changes everything back to factory defaults? ASUS manual even says to select load the BIOS default settings upon exiting after update.  But my current settings are not all at default, so how can I do that?

      2. Is the most current BIOS update available on the ASUS website cumulative of all previous updates? There does not seem to be much difference in file sizes over the period.

       

      Windows 10 Pro x64 v1903 and Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
      • #2007995 Reply

        PKCano
        Da Boss

        1. Does updating the BIOS changes everything back to factory defaults? ASUS manual even says to select load the BIOS default settings upon exiting after update. But my current settings are not all at default, so how can I do that?

        Let’s clear something up so you aren’t comfused.
        The BIOS and the WIndows Operating System are two different things. Updating the BIOS is just updating the BIOS. It does NOT change all the settings in Windows back to the factory defaults.

        If you have not been changing settings in the BIOS, then they are probably where they were when you got the machine.
        I am going to guess that you HAVE changed the Windows settings, and upgrading the BIOS will NOT change all the Windows settings back to factory defaults.

        • #2007999 Reply

          Tex265
          AskWoody Plus

          PK thanks but I fully understand all you have said.  My questions pertain solely to the BIOS and the BIOS settings/changes. (And whether such BIOS change is necessary to keep up with newer versions of Windows).

          My BIOS is set exactly as it came from the computer maker 15 months ago (the Motherboard maker, ASUS has released 6 BIOS updates since for reasons not very clear).

          I have Feature upgraded Windows 10 once, from 1709 to 1803 and will now need to move to 1903 (upon Woody’s OK).

          I have read in various online articles that due to Microsoft constantly changing the operating system via Feature updates that there are times when motherboard makers need to change/adjust their BIOS to keep up so Windows updates will work properly.

          It also appears that when a BIOS is updated and particularly when the maker (ASUS) recommends that you load the BIOS default setting upon exit and reboot, that any existing BIOS settings that were set by the computer maker will be lost.

          If the above is  true, what are we to do?  If say 1903 requires a BIOS update (how do I know?) but the update wipes out changed default settings made by the computer maker – that seems it would be a problem also.

          Windows 10 Pro x64 v1903 and Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
          • #2008001 Reply

            CADesertRat
            AskWoody Plus

            It also appears that when a BIOS is updated and particularly when the maker (ASUS) recommends that you load the BIOS default setting upon exit and reboot, that any existing BIOS settings that were set by the computer maker will be lost.

            Although time consuming, you could go through the BIOS and take snapshots of the current settings with your phone camera if you are worried about certain settings and after the Firmware BIOS update go back and check to see what’s different and change it back if you so desire.

            Did you change any of the BIOS settings or are they already at the default?

            Don't take yourself so seriously, no one else does 🙂
            4 Win 10 Pro currently 1809 (3 Desktops, 1 Laptop).

          • #2008007 Reply

            jabeattyauditor
            AskWoody Lounger

            Tex, you should contact your system manufacturer – that shop specializes in overclocking and that sort of happiness, and you’ll definitely want their opinions on BIOS updates. I wouldn’t blindly go with the motherboard manufacturer’s recommendations without checking with Maingear first.

            3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2008002 Reply

      mn–
      AskWoody Lounger

      Factory defaults is always my starting point when things are not behaving. I rarely change them anyway.

      Sometimes have to, though.

      A friend of one of my sons once asked for help… turned out that their new fancy gaming system’s motherboard defaulted to autodetecting RAM timings and detected them wrong.

      I’d hope that a firmware update would fix it to detect them right, but…

    • #2008011 Reply

      Tex265
      AskWoody Plus

      I finally got through to both Maingear and ASUS.

      Both claim the need for BIOS update is not related to Windows version changes but primarily hardware changes (unless unique needs arise such as the Intel chip malware).

      Both concur that installing a BIOS update will erase any changes previously made to all the factory default settings.  Previous defaults will have to be manually reset (especially if any overclocking etc was performed).

      Based on above, I think I’ll ride out what I have.

      PS: They also say that like it or not Windows will install its preferred WHQL drivers along with any Windows Feature updates.  Can change them afterwards if want or need to particularly any discrete Audio or Video card drivers if necessary for functionality.

      Windows 10 Pro x64 v1903 and Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
    • #2008052 Reply

      wavy
      AskWoody Plus

      My BIOS is set exactly as it came from the computer maker 15 months ago (the Motherboard maker, ASUS has released 6 BIOS updates since for reasons not very clear).

      Asus (as others) makes it hard to find out just what a new bios ‘fixes’. some bioses have the ability to save profiles of he current settings. I just got smacked with this problem after NOT saving settings. Hopefully the manufacturer will have made accommodations for this scenario.
      For a deal breaker like an incompatible Windows upgrade I would strongly suspect the manufacturer would post that info. But since your system was put together by a third party, they would be your main goto.

      🍻

      Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
    • #2008055 Reply

      Susan Bradley
      AskWoody MVP

      One of the reasons I don’t recommend overclocking.  Bios updates shouldn’t touch settings you have (operative being “shouldn’t”).   I had a situation with a Lenovo laptop where I HAD to get a bios update otherwise my bluetooth was not working.

      Susan Bradley Patch Lady

      • #2008071 Reply

        Tex265
        AskWoody Plus

        Bios updates shouldn’t touch settings you have (operative being “shouldn’t”

        That’s what I was hoping for, but alas not to be.

        My system is not Overclocked or anything exotic, but I know there have been some changes to the UEIF BIOS to allow my USB devices (CD player, USB sticks, USB hard drives) to be recognized at boot up plus a few other areas.

        And the only option to exit the BIOS after updating is to select Load Optimized Defaults and Exit.

        I would need to compare every BIOS item against the manual to document the changes made in order to ensure they could be put back.

        Bottom line for me it is not as easy as simply downloading and installing.

        Windows 10 Pro x64 v1903 and Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
    • #2010800 Reply

      CraigS26
      AskWoody Plus

      Early Search nuggets include: Saved Settings (when offered to make) aren’t accepted by the NEW BIOS; Some BIOS updates Cannot be performed Within Windows, Need a Flash File 1st saved to a USB and selected from the BIOS choices when BIOS accessed; Take camera Picture(s) of your Settings. The phrase that begins with Cluster comes to mind.

      I have a Security BIOS Update (Intel) email from HP and am awaiting a Change from Pending to Download Link. HP Sppt told me NOT to Dnload from Intel as HP adds HP-unique spices to the Intel recipe and I should wait for the HP Release. With Macrium Images ready I’ll install it.

      W10-64 1909 Home / Hm-Stdnt Ofce '16 C2R / HP Envy i5-8400/ 12 GB / 256G SSD + 1 TB HDD / InSpectre #8 = GREEN

    • #2010803 Reply

      bmeacham
      AskWoody Plus

      The original poster says “I have a Dell Latitude E5470.”  I have had many Dell machines, currently an XPS13 laptop that is a couple of years old, and I always install Dell’s SupportAssist software. When it tells me I need a driver or bios update, I just do the following:

      1. Make sure my data is backed up
      2. Make sure the machine is plugged in
      3. Let ‘er rip

      I’ve never had a problem.

      That’s for Dell machines. I have no opinion about other manufacturers or home-built machines.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      b
      • #2011020 Reply

        RetiredGeek
        AskWoody MVP

        I also have Dell’s 4 to be exact.  Took them all through multiple Spectre/Meltdown updates w/o a problem. One of those updates also fixed the ability of my newest XPS 8920 to boot from my Samsung 960 MVME M.2 SSD which it wouldn’t do before the update!

        I usually delete the Dell software and just download from the website.

        I’d add a fourth item to your list: 4. Make sure you’re plugged into a UPS or if a laptop that your battery is fully charged and you’re plugged in!
        IMHO, nothing messes up a machine like a power failure in the middle of a Firmware update.

        HTH 😎

        May the Forces of good computing be with you!

        RG

        PowerShell & VBA Rule!
        Computer Specs

        • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by  RetiredGeek.
    • #2010862 Reply

      cmar6
      AskWoody Plus

      Have Windows feature updates caused serious conflicts with older BIOS on mainstream mobos?

      • #2010925 Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        Yes. But it’s just about always required either weird peripherals (see the FTDI thread… yes, motherboard firmware was significant with at least one driver/chipset combination) or at a minimum oddball configurations with “light” (as in semi-software) RAID arrays, that I know of.

        Oh and some of the first Spectre-mitigation firmwares were really picky about what operating system version they worked correctly with. (In that case, older was safer.) Later ones tend to be better.

    • #2010995 Reply

      ibe98765
      AskWoody Plus

      As a general statement, I will update the BIOS with new code butI will usually wait3-6 months to give them time to fix any bugs.

      That being said, I’ve had BIOS update failures in the past.  I always have the old BIOS files available in case I have to reinstall.

      Also, on some higher end modern mobo’s (mine is about 4 years old now) they have a backup BIOS, so in case an install gets screwed up you can switch to a backup.  This has helped me.  On the ASRock mobo I have, this takes the form of a physical switch, which lets me choose BIOS A or B.  This board also has a digital LCD for error codes, so you can easily see what a problem is.

      But don’t take this as a recommendation for ASRock because it has been my experience that their support sucks bigly.

    • #2011019 Reply

      Miller Networks
      AskWoody Plus

      Methodology:

      Before running a BIOS update:

      1. First shut down the system (start->shutdown or equivalent).
      2. Turn off power supply or unplug the power cable.
      3. Press the power button of the computer as if you wanted to boot it, NOT the power supply.  Why?  This will remove any electricity still in capacitors, or what not, on the motherboard.  The LED for computer booting might even light up for a second, even with no power cable.
      4. This will also make sure any motherboard health monitor stops running.
      5. Wait 15-30 seconds for ‘Belt and Suspenders’ safety.
      6. Now you can turn power supply back on, plug in cable.
      7. Boot the system and install the BIOS update.  On a system where all software has just begun running and any later-occurring bugs won’t interfere with the update.

      Whether to upgrade BIOS is often debatable.

      How to upgrade BIOS I have some suggestions.  As an IT person, I have had to upgrade many a BIOS (had as in requested to by client).  Any problems I had were before I began following these procedures.

      The mechanics of what happens during a BIOS upgrade vary depending on manufacturer (software running under windows/linux/bios boot.  Activating hardware that performs the actual erase/write/verify of EEPROM.

      Parts of some modern motherboards are running ALL the time as long as power is plugged into the PC and power supply is turned on (motherboard health monitors for example). Every piece of software has some bugs.  Bugs tend to show up more often the longer the piece of software runs.  So install BIOS after full/complete shutdown and then boot.

      • #2011600 Reply

        Erik_S47
        AskWoody Plus

        And when you shut down the system completely remember it’s still storing some power. So be sure to unplug it and press and hold the power button. You’ll notice that the last bit of power is being discharged; for my machine the fans run very briefly and then again stop.

        FWIW.

    • #2011061 Reply

      Tex265
      AskWoody Plus

      Don’t forget to check into the below even if the update goes smoothly:

      Both claim the need for BIOS update is not related to Windows version changes but primarily hardware changes (unless unique needs arise such as the Intel chip malware).

      Both concur that installing a BIOS update will erase any changes previously made to all the factory default settings. Previous defaults will have to be manually reset (especially if any overclocking etc was performed).

      Windows 10 Pro x64 v1903 and Windows 7 Pro SP1 x64
    • #2011525 Reply

      anonymous

      Dell has a software called Dell Command Update that will check drivers & bios & update it if needed.

    • #2011775 Reply

      jackpet
      AskWoody Plus

      I have never found updating a bios is worth the risk.  I say this even though I have updated bioses in the past with no ill effects.  Yet updating did absolutely NOTHING as far as performance was concerned.  I eventually came to the conclusion that I was taking a big risk for little gain.  Unless you have a significant problem that a bios update promises to fix, I wouldn’t do it.  One final thing… I’ve never heard of a Windows update requiring a Bios update.  Are you certain about this?

      • #2011790 Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        One final thing… I’ve never heard of a Windows update requiring a Bios update.  Are you certain about this?

        I’m quite certain that on at least one specific low-end server model (from a well-known brand name, not going into specifics), the included integrated “pseudo-hardware” RAID needed the system firmware to be upgraded, AKA “BIOS update”, to avoid errors with one of the Windows Server updates.

        Upgrading that did NOT wipe out the preexisting setup – would’ve been a major bother if it’d lost the RAID array setup because that’d have meant data loss…

        I do count that as “mainstream” for servers.

      • #2011974 Reply

        dmt_3904
        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve never heard of a Windows update requiring a Bios update. Are you certain about this

        I thought I had read it somewhere on this forum to update the BIOS to prepare – I could be mistaken in what I thought I’d read (I don’t know enough to say yeah or nay on that).  So I tend to agree with you jackpet – I titled my Post “If it ain’t broke” just for that reason – why risk it unless you are having a problem (same with driver updates). I’ve seen many comments online (from reputable sources, including this one) that state the same.  I suppose it comes down to what you are comfortable with doing bc others will say it’s ok and won’t be a problem and you have to/should do it.  I am not comfortable.

        Problem is, sometimes I can’t even tell from vendor update page if I actually need the update or not – the most recent Dell BIOS update says Urgent:
        – Updated the Embedded Controller Engine firmware.
        – Modified battery algorithm to prolong lifespan and minimize risk of swelling

        I don’t know if I need this!? So, I am not going to do anything.  Except get my 1803 updated to 1903 (or 09) soon as Woody gives the go-ahead!

        • #2012000 Reply

          CADesertRat
          AskWoody Plus

          I suppose it comes down to what you are comfortable with doing bc others will say it’s ok and won’t be a problem and you have to/should do it.  I am not comfortable.

          It sounds like you answered your own question.

          Problem is, sometimes I can’t even tell from vendor update page if I actually need the update or not – the most recent Dell BIOS update says Urgent: – Updated the Embedded Controller Engine firmware. – Modified battery algorithm to prolong lifespan and minimize risk of swelling

          Personally, the battery problem (especially marked urgent) would make me want to update the BIOS BUT, that’s me and I am comfortable with updating the firmware. To each, his own.

          Good luck 🙂

          Don't take yourself so seriously, no one else does 🙂
          4 Win 10 Pro currently 1809 (3 Desktops, 1 Laptop).

          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2012879 Reply

      anonymous

      An old (probably XP) HP desktop of mine lost some functionality I liked after a BIOS update. I was going to say I regret having forgotten the details but really I am glad to have forgotten. The update did not make anything better. Many other BIOS updates have been safe and good, though I cannot say that I remember noticing a visible improvement in stability or operation after the update.

    • #2013314 Reply

      Linda2019
      AskWoody Plus

      From what I have been advised…  caution with BIOS updates is warranted.  If you read the Fixes and Enhancements section of the driver update details you will see what the update fixes.   If what this update is fixing isnt demonstrated by your computer (i.e., speakers not working) ..  rule of thumb.. it would behoove you to be cautious and about whether it is wise to continue with the update.

      If you decide to do the update, many computers require you to suspend the bitlocker encryption before updating bios…..otherwise the update will fail.  But likewise, an error with the update can cause your computer to not be able to start up again.

      • This reply was modified 5 days, 12 hours ago by  Linda2019.

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