Dell bios recovery procedure (confirmed)

Discussion in 'BIOS Mods' started by danwalmsley, May 4, 2010.

  1. danwalmsley

    danwalmsley MDL Member

    Oct 15, 2009
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    This is a method originally described by REDALERTHAN, this post is to clarify and make sticky as many users have been unable to follow his instructions.

    Most if not all DELL bioses on systems are based on the phoenix bios. The phoenix bios contains an emergency bootloader in case the actual bios becomes corrupt or the bios update fails.

    I have successfully used this method to recover 2x Vostro 1400 mainboards, and various other models.

    1.) Firstly download from the DELLs website the latest version of your BIOS, for me this was 1400_A09.exe, then copy it to C:\

    2.) Open a Windows (MSDOS) command prompt, and type (replacing the name of my bios file with yours)

    1400_a09.exe -writehdrfile

    Now you will find the file “1400_a09.hdr” @ C:\ on your PC.

    3.) You now need to copy this to a formatted USB stick (FAT format), only this file. (Some models only accepted USB floppy drives) I found that a FAT formatted 128mb USB disk worked, my 2GB stick didnt seem to work (further testing to be confirmed). It usually worked in most USB ports although one model I noticed only worked on the left hand side. (Vostro 1400)

    4.) Remove the battery and the AC power cord.

    5.) Plug in the USB memory stick into one of the USB ports.

    6.) Whilst holding down the END key plug in the AC adaptor,

    7.) The battery light should come on, on the Vostro it came on purple (i suppose green and RED at the same time) (other model use different colors, but the timing seems to be uniform across all models.)

    8.) Then release the END key, the power light should come on and the laptop power up, wait a moment ensuring the power stays on, hopefully the USB stick will start to be read. The LEDs will start flashing different colours and the fans should be on loudly.

    Eventually the laptop should automatically restart itself. If all has gone well then the DELL logo should be displayed.

    The entire flashing process probably takes less than 30 seconds, it is very fast.

    Confirmed models:

    Inspiron 1525 – Confirmed (28/04/2010)

    Inspiron 6400 – Confirmed (28/04/2010) (Hold END until the power LED comes on then let go, flashing worked with memory stick in any port.)

    Latitude D410 – Confirmed (File must be named VENI????BIN or VENI????HDR, i.e. VENI1234.BIN or VENI1234.HDR)

    Latitude D610 – Confirmed (File must be named AZED????.BIN or AZED.HDR, i.e. AZED1234.BIN or AZED1234.HDR)

    Latitude D620 – Confirmed

    Vostro 1400 – Confirmed (27/04/2010)

    Please if anyone can confirm this works for them on any other model of DELL the please email me and I will add this to the list.

    I am also keeping an updated notice of this technique on my blog to help make this information more readily available.
     
  2. danwalmsley

    danwalmsley MDL Member

    Oct 15, 2009
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    Sticky Or move this into the top of bios recovery procedures (which does not have this information)!!!
     
  3. gabiz_ro

    gabiz_ro MDL Member

    Feb 2, 2010
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    most newer Dell's don't have this option -writehdrfile
    all I found available is /writeromfile
    Even parameter is valid is non working in some cases and is need of earlyier version of bios to extract rom file.
    Never tested recovery on such models using rom file.
     
  4. danwalmsley

    danwalmsley MDL Member

    Oct 15, 2009
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    This method accepts either HDR or BIN (possibly ROM) files, even if writehdrfile doesn't work Im sure there is a way to extract the files. But this is untested. I think that most DELLs from the last 2 - 3 years do actually support this option, but the newest laptop I have tested is just under a year old.
     
  5. danwalmsley

    danwalmsley MDL Member

    Oct 15, 2009
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    Tell me what model and I will try to extract the latest HDR file for you...
     
  6. nash58

    nash58 MDL Member

    Feb 8, 2010
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    link not working: error 404
     
  7. danwalmsley

    danwalmsley MDL Member

    Oct 15, 2009
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    Link is active again...
     
  8. yugn

    yugn MDL Novice

    May 9, 2010
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    useful information! Now I can proceed mod bios update for a Inspiron 6400 w/ more confidence. :cool:
     
  9. shakeyplace

    shakeyplace MDL Addicted

    May 5, 2007
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    I have recovered two inspiron 6400 today, works well (used KEYLARGO.HDR and memory stick, worked with both Fat16 and Fat32 formatting)

     
  10. PV9685

    PV9685 MDL Novice

    May 17, 2010
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    Interesting... I "killed" an Inspiron 1501 laptop today trying to downgrade firmware. (With good reason, memory was not being clocked properly - so i was trying to see if it was a BIOS issue)

    The methods I have come across thus far do not work, however - it is strange as the 1501 is the AMD sister model to the e1505 which is the Inspiron version of the 6400 - which is confirmed to work by these methods.

    The 1501 does use a Phoenix BIOS and the model is just a hair over 2 years old. I receive a 1Long, 2Short beep code on startup... No video card? haha, it's built into the Northbridge and works fine (x1150 ATI). However I know that video cards are detect via Video BIOS, and if it is built-in I assume it is one with the system BIOS.

    The system WILL try to recover itself when doing the DEL key trick, though the LED's do not change color or anything - I simply get a single BEEP on startup and the system reads off from every disk/USB drive.

    My issue is that the WinPHLASH for my system has no way known to me to create an HBR file. Putting the ROM file on either a formatted (FAT16 or 32) Flash drive has failed (2 drives checked), and putting the ROM on a CD has failed.

    This thing is definitely trying to recover itself, though I do not know the technique. Any help would be appreciated beyond imaginable!
     
  11. kingedwards

    kingedwards MDL Junior Member

    Mar 17, 2010
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    An easier way to reset/recover dell bios is to use the software just provided in another post ;-)
     
  12. kingedwards

    kingedwards MDL Junior Member

    Mar 17, 2010
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    The link in my other post has been fixed now and is verified working.
     
  13. danwalmsley

    danwalmsley MDL Member

    Oct 15, 2009
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    If the bios update failed, and the system is "bricked" then your disk does not boot. This method is for people who no longer have a bootable system. I beleive yours can probably reset to defaults and get rid of passwords. I do like the option to change the service tag. However it is not an easier way, as your CD would not work for most people who are having problems here.

    Thanks for posting your disk.
     
  14. Stubucks

    Stubucks MDL Novice

    Sep 7, 2012
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    I will confirm your procedure worked on a Dell D630 laptop. I was completely hosed although the computer still has video issues. But, I did get the D630_A17.hdr file to load from a USB 8 GB FAT32 stick. Thank you, Thank you and Thank you. I knew someone out here had to work the issue. :)
     
  15. LatinMcG

    LatinMcG Bios Borker

    Feb 27, 2011
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    i bet u used filename RISA17.HDR
    correction its BRISA17.HDR
     
  16. Stubucks

    Stubucks MDL Novice

    Sep 7, 2012
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    No, just the D630_A17.hdr file extracted from the D630_A17.exe file. It was the only file on the stick.
     
  17. Gilgamesh_7

    Gilgamesh_7 MDL Junior Member

    Apr 7, 2012
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    Peace Be Upon U danwalmsley

    I succeeded in recovery of Dell Inspiron N5010 following the same procedure that U post provided by LatinMcG and i used 8GB formatted (FAT format) USB stick but after formatting it i made it bootable too.
     
  18. dedode

    dedode MDL Novice

    Jun 21, 2012
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    very useful info.
     
  19. Overmaxx

    Overmaxx MDL Novice

    Aug 16, 2011
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    this instruction dont work for M6600. What can i do for recovery bios? Please help/