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BIOS Updates

You are all familiar with term 'flashing the BIOS', right? I'm pretty sure you have all done it at least once or twice. But for those unfamiliar with the term, here is a short explanation of the concept.

All current motherboards come with Flash ROM BIOS chips which are used to store the BIOS software. Flash ROM technology allows the writing as well as reading of BIOS software by the motherboard. This is useful because it allows the BIOS software to be easily updated.

All you need to do is download a new BIOS image from the manufacturer's website and 'flash' the image into the Flash ROM using a flash utility. And voila! Your motherboard has a new BIOS! Of course, you can also revert to an older version of your motherboard's BIOS.

This act of writing BIOS software to the BIOS chip is known as 'flashing the BIOS' and the software tool used is known as a BIOS flash utility. But what is hot flashing?


Hot Flashing

No, hot flashing does not require you to heat up your BIOS nor does it have anything to do with heat. And no, it is certainly NOT related to the hot flashes that menopausal women experience!

Hot flashing is basically the same as a plain jane BIOS flash - you use a BIOS flash utility to flash a BIOS image into the Flash ROM. However, there is a twist to it. Hot flashing requires you to swap BIOS chips while the system is running! That's what the word 'hot' in hot flashing means - you swap the BIOS chip when your system is 'hot'.

Now, why would anyone of sane mind do that? Obviously, messing around with any hardware while the system is running is an act that is often considered incredibly brave or incredibly stupid. And why not? Risks of electrocution aside, mucking with your hardware while they are running can cause permanent damage to your hardware and, not to mention, data in your computer.

However, the benefits of hot flashing may outweigh the risks. If your motherboard BIOS chip becomes corrupted, hot flashing allows you to revive the chip by replacing the corrupted BIOS software with a new BIOS image. Remember, once your BIOS becomes corrupted, you cannot boot up your computer. Therefore, the conventional BIOS flashing method cannot be used. If you cannot boot up the computer, you cannot load up the BIOS flash utility.

This is where hot flashing comes in. Hot flashing circumvents the booting problem by using another computer to boot up. The corrupted BIOS chip is then transplanted into the computer (while it is still running) and updated with an uncorrupted BIOS image. This revives what was, for all intents and purposes, a dead BIOS chip. The BIOS chip can then be returned to the original motherboard to allow the computer to function once again.

Of course, you will need another system with a motherboard that supports the same BIOS chip. But if you have access to such a computer and are not squeamish about swapping BIOS chips with the computer running, you can save yourself a lot of time and money.

If you cannot hot flash your corrupted motherboard BIOS, you will have to send it back to the manufacturer or buy a replacement BIOS chip. Both alternatives are not particularly desirable since they cost money and you cannot use your computer until you get a replacement board or BIOS chip.

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