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Old 12-22-2007, 07:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Update BIOS on older Compaq PC

I'm not positive that the "hardware" forum is the correct place to put this, so if a moderator thinks it should be moved, feel free.

I posted this thread just a few days ago wondering if I could find some help with a Windows problem I've never seen before. Since then things have worsened significantly.

Since posting that thread we located the XP install disk and attempted a repair install/installing over the already present one. With "13 minutes remaining" it locked up. Running out of daylight I tried again with no luck, and then decided to back up the most important files "just incase," and decided to bring the computer home with me.

But I've run into bigger problems -- hardware problems. Since the computer wouldn't boot correctly or write to my USB drive correctly under Knoppix, I decided to remove the hard drive, put it in another computer, and back up the data that way. This went fine. After putting the hard drive back into its original home, however, I hit a snag: the computer no longer recognized that it was plugged in. I tried switching the IDE slot it was plugged into (HDD2 instead of HDD1), but still no luck. Doing this made things worse actually.

Rebooting again, I checked the BIOS. Not only was the hard drive not being recognized, but neither one of the two CD drives was, either. I fretted for a while, wondering if the computer was dying, but tried a few things.

I set the BIOS settings back to their defaults. This resulted in the CD drives being recognized again (phew!). I am actually posting this message while running Knoppix, so things are OK on that front. After the CD drives could be used again I tried switching IDE slots once more. Success! However, still no hard drive activity.

The next thing I want to attempt is a BIOS update. The computer is a Compaq Presario S5000V and the BIOS is PhoenixBIOX 4.0 Release 6.0, v 3.23 (a revision dating back to 2003). I'm not sure it will rectify the problem, but I'm under the impression that it's my best bet at the moment.

Things I know for sure:
  • The hard drive does work. It has been plugged into another computer, even after this one failed recognize it, and it has been recognized as well as functional. Also, once again, I'm botted in Knoppix right now and I can see the hard drive and its contents.
  • Both of the IDE slots on the motherboard work.
  • The ribbon cables all work.

So far all I have found on how to flash the BIOS (which I've only done once or twice before on my personal computer and that of a friend, both of which were built, not purchased pre-configured) are instructions on how to do it while running inside of Windows. This simply doesn't help when you don't have access to your OS.

So, if at all possible, I'm looking for help in doing either of the following things: flashing the BIOS using a floppy, which I'm familiar with; or using Knoppix to somehow do it.

Thanks for any help in advance.

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Old 12-23-2007, 07:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update BIOS on older Compaq PC

Besides looking at the need for updating the bios have you tried replacing the battey on the board itself? Once a lithium calculator/watch type battery grows weak and is about to go totally a good number of problems will be seen.

Even on a custom build only a year old a battery can go like seen on one Socket A build where the board here loved batteries! When the fan quit on the 3rd party cpu cooler and the cpu saw 85C after running at 74C while waiting for a new and much better Zalman 7000b over the Scythe model that saw the fan quit the fsb had to be lowered from 200 down to 166mhz just to see the system start up.

That's when the second came about when setting up the old case again with a totally fresh battery and 7000b to see the XP3200+ on the old now running again at the 200mhz fsb settting in the bios by simply swapping the replacement battery while assuming the cpu previously was "toast"! Those big surprises sometimes come in small packages like CR or DL 2032 lithium batteries do.

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Old 12-23-2007, 09:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update BIOS on older Compaq PC

Thanks for the suggestion, but I am under the impression this motherboard doesn't even have a battery (!). I looked beforehand, as this was one of my ideas, too, and couldn't find it. It's weird, I know. Maybe it does, but I sure couldn't find it.

Anyways, I figured the problem out and everything is fine. I couldn't save the Windows install, but now it's happily running Arch Linux.

The hard drive has always had the jumpers set to master. But somewhere in my troubleshooting process the motherboard stopped liking this setting. I tried moving the jumper around and it recognized it immediately. So it's on cable select now and working perfectly.
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Old 12-23-2007, 10:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Update BIOS on older Compaq PC

I found that on some older builds when running a second identical or same make ide drive it wouldn't show up when set as slave. That's when setting it to cable select immediately saw the drive recognised and appear as the new logical when Windows then installed it as one.

The typical battery seen on the post Pentium Pro and 586 systems as well as AMD boards sees a coin sized battery holder. On some older boards you would see a smal cable going to a flexible holder with a small retainer holding that down until lifting it up. That's when a vinyl flap would fold back revealing the cattey inside.

Newer boards since see a metal tension tab pressing on one side and part of the top often that you simply press to see the battery popup out of the holder. Simply look over the board's diagram to see where it is located usually next to the bios eprom on the board in front of the pci slots and a little offset from where you plug in the front panel's wiring and additional block of pins for the front/top usb ports.
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