Effects from power surge - Is my BIOS bad?

Posted on 2004-10-31
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I have a Gateway 600ygr and just recently it would intermittently not boot.  It wouldn't even get to POST.  Initially, I thought it was the bios until the last time it did boot I went into the bios made some minor changes and saved it.  This to me was like flashing the bios which should have corrected any corruption within it.  Unfortunately, it didn't work.  

Could the bios chip itself be bad and causing these symptoms?  If not, could it be something with the power supply?  I'm leaning towards the later because I have two Toshiba Armada M300's that are doing the same thing.  They died about 6 months prior and within a month of each other.  We do get frequent power outages where the power goes out for just a few seconds and none of the laptops were surge protected.  I'm just not sure what part of the laptop would be affected by this.  They don't seem to work with battery power either.

Question by:bcsinc
    LVL 31

    Accepted Solution

    Laptops are to some extent "surge-protected" by the power unit and the regulator circuitry; not that they'd survive too severe mains spikes but they're often less prone to damage than desktops. A power outage shouldn't be a problem if the battery is in place.

    Making changes in BIOS setup and saving is not like flashing the BIOS.

    You could try doing a CMOS reset if you can find the jumpers for it, or if you can remove the CMOS battery for half an hour. Otherwise you can try to "set factory defaults" in the BIOS setup program.

    Next step would be to try starting the machine with battery only or AC only. Make sure all other peripherals are disconnected.

    If still no go, you may have to check the power adaptor to see  that it gives proper output.

    Also try removing HD and other removable drives.

    Re-seat the memory modules.

    What happens when you power on, in case it doesn't start up properly?

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the quick responce rid.  

    I don't understand what the difference between saving the bios, re-setting or setting it to factory defaults is? Also, I don't have a battery for my CMOS.

    Would a bios issue happen intermittently?

    As far as the Gateway, when I apply power the power light lights up and the fan starts but does'nt stop.  The M300's, (which are Compaq's not Toshiba's, sorry), the power lights up but thats it.  Again no POST.

    The intermitence on the Gateway is what has me confused.  You would think if there were a bad component it would cease to function, am I wrong in that theory?
    LVL 31

    Expert Comment

    The BIOS contains a number of instructions, a small program in effect, that checks all the components of the computer (the POST, Power On Self Test) for proper function and then goes looking for a bootable device (boot sector of floppy or HD or so). A certain part of the BIOS is user-adjustable (the CMOS part) while the rest is stored in EEPROM. The CMOS part keeps its settings as long as the CMOS (or Real Time Clock) battery is OK - there is one such battery in every PC. If the battery goes bad or is removed, the CMOS part of BIOS loses its settings. This is sometimes done intentionally - a CMOS reset - which is done by removing power to the CMOS memory (shorting out by means of jumper, or removing battery) or by setting CMOS to factory defaults in the BIOS setup program.

    Flashing the BIOS is an entirely different thing. This means you erase the instructions in the EEPROM and replace them with a new set. This is a bit risky because if anything goes wrong, the computer is very likely transformed into a bulky and expensive paperweight. Such BIOS upgrades are recommended only if you have a consistent problem and you KNOW that the new BIOS instructions cure that specific problem.

    I seriously doubt a BIOS issue would cause intermittent power-on problems.

    I suspect that you may have a bad connection somewhere inside these machines. If you feel up to it, you could open them up, reseat all components that can be disconnected (RAM, processor, HD etc). I also recommend you try starting them up without the HD, as a bad HD can cause severe confusion in the POST process sometimes.

    Also verify that the poweer units work and that they can charge the batteries.

    One bizarre remedy for seemingly dead laptops is to remove both battery and AC power, press and hold the power button for a few minutes, then release it. Reconnect power and try again.

    You seem to have accepted my comment a bit prematurely. I suggest you post a Q in the Community Support area, with a link to this thread, and ask for a re-opening and a refund of points. This will make other experts still see the question (and you get your points back...).


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