Author Topic: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty  (Read 1074 times)

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Offline PerranOak

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Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« on: May 27, 2021, 11:39:50 am »
My brand new Dell Inspiron 15 5510 laptop had an error this morning that I've never seen before.

When I turned it on, it said "BIOS corrupted" and then set about reinstalling all firmware.

After that, all seems to be well, no problems.

I just wonder if something is fundamentally wrong: bad memory or something.

Contacting Dell yielded nothing of any use: they only care that it's working now.

Any advice on how to check what, if any, underlying problem is present?

Cheers.
Some light can never be seen!
RJD
 

Offline fordem

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2021, 06:54:11 pm »
BIOS or Basic Input Output System is essentially a set of self test routines that allow a computer to perform rudimentary tests and to find the operating system on whatever media it's stored on and load it - it used to be stored in ROM, then EPROM, then EEPROM and now it's in flash memory.  Historically Dell has been ahead of most manufacturers in including fairly comprehensive hardware diagnostics in their BIOS, and to be honest, I've not heard of a system being able to diagnose a corrupt BIOS and fix it without manual intervention.

Systems do exist where provisions have been made for two separate copies of the BIOS to be stored, but this is typically not seen on consumer product, it's more common on enterprise grade servers, and even  those require a tech to swap a jumper.

Flash memory (where the BIOS is stored) does fail, there is nothing you can do other than swap the board out (which I would not recommend as Dell will simply replace it with a refurbished board) or wait for it to fail, which, if there is an underlying issue will happen sooner rather than later.
 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2021, 12:26:16 am »
Are you certain that it said "BIOS corrupted" and not "CMOS corrupted"?

CMOS corruption do happen when the CMOS battery runs down.  They are typically coin batteries.  Some BIOS has certain hardware settings stored in CMOS.  When that stored information is lost, the BIOS will "reinstalled" the detected hardware.

If it is CMOS battery, it would be repeatable.  Just let your laptop sit overnight (or less) without the main battery.  If the CMOS coin battery is near death, it will drain down and CMOS data will be "corrupted" again -- easier way to see is the CMOS clock no longer has the right date/time.

Replacing the CMOS battery is not too hard.  I found some info here:
https://www.parts-people.com/blog/2016/04/19/dell-precision-15-5510-p56f001-cmos-battery-removal-and-installation/

Disclaimer on the link:  That is just one example and I don't know if the guy is good or not - or if his way even works, so don't take my link as endorsement.
 

Offline PerranOak

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2021, 04:07:39 pm »
Thank you both, that's very helpful.

Though I can't remember the message exactly, the error definitely had the words "BIOS" and "corrupted": I know becuase those two words brought me out in a cold sweat!

For the moment, I'm being a coward and hoping it doesn't recur. :-[
« Last Edit: May 28, 2021, 04:18:46 pm by PerranOak »
Some light can never be seen!
RJD
 

Offline fordem

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2021, 10:31:37 pm »
I've never seen a CMOS corrupted message (I've never see a BIOS corrupted message either), usually what it'll say is something along the lines of "CMOS checksum error" along with a prompt to either continue or enter the CMOS setup utility.
 

Offline PerranOak

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2021, 07:04:54 am »
Well it’s funny you say that. Later that day it went to a page like that: continue, BIOS setup, diagnostic. I went to diagnostic and everything passed.

This seemed to be when the battery was nearly discharged as it didn’t recur when it was charged up.
Some light can never be seen!
RJD
 

Offline SimonM

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2021, 06:12:51 am »
This seemed to be when the battery was nearly discharged as it didn’t recur when it was charged up.
The circuit that needs power from a CMOS backup battery will get it from the laptop battery first and so mask the problem.

That's why it was suggested that you leave it with the laptop battery out.

Simon
 

Offline PerranOak

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2021, 04:25:06 pm »
I see.

Problem is I also got nothing from Dell customer services:

I tried to phone but was not getting through. Therefore, I used the online chat. Although they didn't seem to understand my problem, they emailed me a case number and said they’d keep it open for 48hrs to see if the problem recurred.

It did recur and another problem occurred too. I went onto the Dell site, to “support” and there was no sign under “service requests” of my case number of any trace of my report. When I tried to view service requests, it asked for an email. I gave this and it said there were none even though this was the email they’d sent the case number to! The Service Tag and Express Service Code all matched but no info. The site did show my abortive attempts at getting through by phone though!

I decided to ring them and I did get through. However, every time, and I mean EVERY time, I was put on hold the call disconnected. I tried again the next day – 8 times – same thing. This was despite the last two call-takers apologising and saying they would stay on the line to make sure I got through!

I’d had enough and resolved that the laptop had to go back; it was within the 14 day return period. Ironically, this part of the service was very efficient, I received the return label by email and the refund went through flawlessly.

Frankly, I was stunned by the poor service on the website (no record of my requests – not even the return) and the phones (never put through). I had assumed that Dell service would be excellent. I’ve had one Dell machine or another for 15 years and been very pleased but this is just too much. When there is an issue the measure of a firm is how they deal with it.

Problem is - I still need a new laptop!  |O
Some light can never be seen!
RJD
 

Offline MrMobodies

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2021, 07:21:00 pm »
Good you returned it.

A new laptop should not have a low/dead cmos battery but if it is updating the firmware without hardly any warning or notification before it failed I myself wouldn't be happy about that.

Sounds to me a bit like a firmware update tool place in the background without you knowing about it and failed:

https://www.reddit.com/r/techsupport/comments/dle1px/laptop_died_during_automatic_bios_update_fails_to/


https://superuser.com/questions/1498695/dell-bios-messed-up-recovery-fails-now-what


This is why I always set stuff so nothing can update automatically whether it is the software or firmware and not at least without knowing about it at first.


 

Offline Fraser

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Re: Dell-boy BIOS not cushty
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2021, 07:48:38 pm »
Modern PC’s are running UEFI rather than conventional, relatively simple, ‘BIOS’. The UEFI is far more capable than the old BIOS types and sadly this can bring with it more issues. It is like a baby OS and can suffer corruption. The self test detects anything amiss with the UEFI and tries to repair the build from its factory backup. As such it can be robust but then so was BIOS ! I get the feeling that many customer support staff would treat the UEFI a bit like a ‘black box’…… if it fails and fixes itself, as it is designed to do, then great….problem solved.

As to what can cause a ‘corruption’ in UEFI ? Sadly I have no experience of this but the term ‘corruption’ can cover a lot of territory where UEFI is concerned. Remember, it is more like a mini OS so glitches can occur, far more so than you would ever have seen in a simple BIOS with its little non volatile configuration memory. I think you were right to reject the laptop as such an issue when new is not a good sign. I would not write off Dell hardware as it is still a major player in the market but poor support is a concern. I always bought Dell laptops and desktops but moved over to HP Elitebook laptops a few years ago after buying a very nice compact HP Elitebook 2170P from a forum member. I have a circa 2013 Elitebook as my daily use PC. I believe later laptop releases from HP have had a chequered reliability record so sadly cannot recommend HP models currently produced. I own 9 different Elitebook laptops from 2012/13 and they are brilliant with no instability, overheating or other issues.

Good luck in your search for a decent laptop from a company that deserves your custom  :-+

A simple UEFI to BIOS comparison is provided here….

https://www.howtogeek.com/56958/htg-explains-how-uefi-will-replace-the-bios/

« Last Edit: June 13, 2021, 07:53:14 pm by Fraser »
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