Re: Flashing the bios
@Clark33, for several years now, Dell BIOS flashing has been done with a simple EXE. You run it from within Windows. The utility checks the current BIOS version, and if there's a difference, it prompts if you want to upgrade. If you choose to upgrade the BIOS, it warns you to have uninterruptible power (a UPS, which you could be brave and continue without). The utility then loads into memory and does a warm reboot. It boots into the utility, flashes (which often looks scary, even though everything is fine), then reboots back into Windows.
So it depends.
Worst-case (and this is how it was done in the old days), is you have to download a flash utility that doesn't contain any BIOS version - it's just the utility. Then you have to download the BIOS update. Then you have to build a bootable floppy or USB that boots to DOS. After booting to DOS, you run a command similar to "Flash.exe BIOSVer2.bios".
More common these days, though, is that you will download an EXE that runs from Windows, the utility will prompt you to provide either a floppy disk or USB stick. It will reformat the disk/stick to be bootable to the flash utility. When done, you can reboot to the floppy/stick, it will probably prompt you to back-up your current BIOS. If you choose yes, it creates a backup file on the floppy/stick. You flash and you're done.
If it acts squirrelly, and you want to put it back, you boot off the device again. When the utility sees two BIOS version files, it asks you which to use. You would choose the original version and it would be flashed back to the way it had been.
So it all depends on your motherboard and BIOS.
I've probably flashed BIOS's about 40 times over the years. It never ceases to cause my heart to skip a few beats. If something goes wrong, it can ruin your motherboard. That happened to me once, but the situation was not critical, as the PC was old and I was simply trying to extend it's useful life.
Doing a BIOS flash without external UPS is more risky. if it's your only PC, I advise having external battery power. Otherwise, if not so critical, you could argue that a motherboard costs the same as a UPS, so it's not like a smoked motherboard is the end of the world. You'd buy another motherboard compatible with your existing hardware (not always possible on an old PC).