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PC won't boot (BIOS, etc)

Posted on 2014-07-25
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Last Modified: 2014-08-22
Hi Experts,

A friend has asked me to try to fix a PC running WinXP which won't start properly.  Looks like a generic brand, which a mix of component brands.  Apparently, it was turned off during startup, and after that the following problems started occurring:

Sometimes when I turn it on, all that comes up on the screen is:
    Bad BIOS Checksum.  Starting BIOS Recovery...
    Checking for floppy...
    Floppy not found!
    Checking for CD-ROM...
    CD-ROM not found!
    Checking for floppy...
    ...etc...

Sometimes the above floppy/CD-ROM checks stop after a few checks, sometimes they continue longer.

Not that there is nothing before the above messages.  I know some PCs have RAM messages, etc.

Most of the time, nothing at all appears on the screen when I turn it on.  Just the fan noises which always happen.

One time something came up on the screen which I could barely read, because the dots/letters were widely spread, but I think it said something about BIOS.

I never hear anything that sounds like HDD access, so I guess the BIOS problem is preventing startup from getting that far.

I've tested the BIOS battery voltage.  It's a CR2032 (which I think is meant to be 3V) and it measured 3.09V, so that seems fine.

After that, I tried reseating the single RAM card, but no joy.

The PC does 2 close short beeps about 5 secs after powering on, or 1 beep if keyboard is plugged in.  (Mouse connection doesn't seem to change the number of beeps.)

From googling the above "Bad BIOS Checksum.  Starting BIOS Recovery..." message, I found answers like these:
    www.tomshardware.com/forum/314625-30-error-bios-checksum-starting-bios-recovery-asus-motherboard
    https://nz.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110301145240AAdeZjE
and those may explain the symptom of the error message, but I don't think they help with the other symptoms, including nothing on the screen.

Questions:
Q1. Can anyone suggest likely causes and solutions to the above symptoms?
Q2. Are the 2 beeps that I am now (and maybe before) getting likely to indicate RAM failure?

I have only very basic hardware experience.

Thanks.
tel2
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First I would replace the battery just to rule out a battery failure.  I don't believe it is the battery but once replaced you don't need to come back to that.

Second we can't tell if the two beeps are RAM problems or not.  Motherboards have different beep codes.  They vary between model and manufacturer.  Check the motherboard for an identification name or model number.  This could be anywhere, for example between slots or around the CPU area.

Third, disconnect all devices from the motherboard, eg floppy drives, hard disks, CDROM drives, mice, keyboards, USB devices such as printers, network cables and try again.  I suspect this won't change anything but it'll confirm that these devices aren't affecting the motherboard.  Also remove any addin cards such as graphics or network cards and try again.

Fifth, remove memory sticks and put one back and try again.  No joy, then try with another memory stick.  I suspect this won't make a difference but try anyway.

Fifth, it most likely is a corrupt BIOS.  But we need the motherboard model to see how they handle corrupt BIOSes.  Refer to point two above.
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by:tel2
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Thanks for that, dbrunton,

Slight correction to my 2nd question, which should have read:
    Q2. Is the single beep that I am getting likely to indicate RAM failure?
I think you've already basically answered that anyway, dbrunton.

Regarding replacing the battery:
    Q3.  Is there any point, since, as I've said, I've measured it at 3.09V?
    Q4. And would we expect these kinds of problems from a flat battery?  For example, I would still expect something to always appear on the screen, regardless of battery condition.  Right?

Thanks.
tel2
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by:dbrunton
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>>  I would still expect something to always appear on the screen, regardless of battery condition.  Right?

Yep.  You should still get messages.  Typical error messages of flat battery may indicate bad date or time and lost configuration.  But not always.  I do suspect though your battery is OK from your voltage measurement but the cost of replacing is minimal which is why I recommend it.  The CR2032 can be found almost everywhere including supermarkets.
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by:Korbus
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I don't see that you have tried resetting or clearing the BIOS.  Since it has a bad checksum, I think this would be a good place to start.  Usually this is done by moving a jumper on the MB, but you'll need the docs for that.  Sometimes (but not always) removing the BIOS battery for a few minutes also does this.

This battery is used to retain bios settings when the power is disconnected.  So if it went too long without power and the battery drained: YES this could cause BIOS corruption issues.  Sounds like it's all charged back up now though, so I don't think you need to replace it.  I suppose you can test it as follows, to confirm it can RETAIN the charge:  disconnect power to PC, but leave battery in for a few hours-  THEN check it's voltage after actually working for few hours.

I think your best place to start is to determine the make & model of the MB, and find the docs for that.  Not only will the docs show how to reset the bios, but will also tell you what those two beeps mean.
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by:tel2
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OK dbrunton.

Thanks Korbus.
Most of the time I'm getting nothing on the screen now (last 10 boots or so all gave blank screens).  Could a corrupt BIOS cause that?

I see that the mother board has this written in big lettering:
ASUS
K8V-MX  (or possibly KBV-MX - hard to tell and google finds both)

Other points taken.
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by:Korbus
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>>Could a corrupt BIOS cause that?
Afraid so, though I admit unlikely.  BIOS in addition to providing you with various configuration options, has software (firmware technically) which controls the whole motherboard, which in turn controls the video card.

>>google finds both
Great! Were you able to find the docs too?  The pictures in the docs should help you determine which of those two boards you have.
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by:Korbus
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had another thought:  if you "update the firmware" for the motherboard (how to should be in docs or on ASUS site), this should overwrite any corruption.  Then again, I'm not sure how to do this without video, even if you create a bootable update disk on another system.

Is the video on the motherboard, or a separate card (which we can test replacing)?
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by:tel2
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Yes Korbus, I've been considering updating the BIOS, using the instructions in the first link of my original post,

It has onboard video (i.e. no separate card).

Might check for docs later
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by:dbrunton
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The motherboard's site is here http://support.asus.com/knowledge.aspx?SLanguage=en&p=1&s=20&m=K8V-MX&os=&hashedid=dJ2XP7zr8tzeYbLp

Lots of troubleshooting articles and the manual is there on one of the pages.

See http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/sock754/K8V-MX/E2335_K8V-MX_h.pdf for the manual.

The manual gives instructions for resetting the BIOS.  In theory you place a copy of the BIOS on a floppy disk and on boot the machine reads the floppy disk and reinstalls the BIOS.  But you need to read the manual.

The manual also explains how to clear the BIOS by moving a pin on the motherboard.
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Awesome!  Thanks dbrunton!
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Need to add some more comments.

>>  Most of the time I'm getting nothing on the screen now (last 10 boots or so all gave blank screens).

Now is the system booting?  If the CPU fan is spinning most likely it has done some type of boot.  You may also have a flaky power supply being unable to supply sufficient power.
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by:web_tracker
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I think since you are having intermittent issues, different issues, such as bad video, and a range of different boot errors. I am really leaning toward the powersupply that is starting to fail, or a bad motherboard.  Since this is an onboard video card do you have another video card that you can plug into the slot to test it that way, because if the onboard video card is failing, often you can get by with out replacing the mobo by just adding a video card. Do you have another powrsupply you can swap out and test?

One other thing I would try is unplug the power cord and hold the power button on for five seconds to drain the flea power. Then plug in the power cable and then try turning on the computer again. What happens after doing that?

As far as a corrupt bios it is impossible to flash the bios if you can get the system to pass the post (power on self test).
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Hi dbrunton,
> Now is the system booting?  If the CPU fan is spinning most likely it has done some type of boot.  You may also have a flaky power supply being unable to supply sufficient power.
I think all the boots I've seen on this PC have had the CPU fan spinning.
Also:
- The DVD drive light appear for a few secs.
- The green (power?) light to the left of the power button comes on and stays on until powered off.
- The red light to the right of the power button comes on for about 10 secs, goes off for a sec, then I hear the beep, then the red light comes back on for a fraction of a sec, then stays off.


Hi web_tracker,
Tried draining flea power as you suggested, but same result.
Other points taken.
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by:dbrunton
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Right then it seems it is booting.  You've got the DVD light showing it is trying to boot from that and the hard disk light (the red one) trying to boot as well.

So if you are confident enough you can try a BIOS repair as detailed in the manual.
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by:nobus
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in asus, you can recover the bios from the driver install cd  - check your mobo manual
here how to do it from an usb stick :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVPxn-521eg
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by:tel2
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OK thanks guys.  That's given me something to look at.
There's no floppy drive, so I may have to recover BIOS from USB (as nobus has suggested) or CD/DVD.  I'll get back to you if I need more help with this.

PS: web_tracker, I forgot to say before:
> Do you have another powrsupply you can swap out and test?
Unfortunately, no, and I don't think I have a suitable video card to try, either.
But thanks.
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by:rindi
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This is typical behavior you get when there are bad electrolytic capacitors in your system. Visually inspect your mainboard's, Video card's, and Powersupply's capacitors for signs of them crackung, bulging, or leaking. If you are good with a soldering iron, get replacement caps and replace the lot (if you see one bad cap replace all of them).
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by:nobus
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it is what they called a crash free bios
if i remember, correct, you put the driver cd in - then boot using F12 key, and it starts the bios recovery
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Hi rindi,
Thanks for the tip.  Sounds reasonable.  I had previously had a quick look at caps on the motherboard, and couldn't see any leakage on top, but you've given me other things (and places) to look.  Yes, I have basic soldering iron skills.

Hi nobus,
Are you saying I should be able to easily update BIOS without video?  And is the CMOS just to store BIOS settings, or what?
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>>  Are you saying I should be able to easily update BIOS without video?

Yes.  See page 2.5 of the manual.  Using a floppy disk and pressing ALT-F2 on start should get the machine to do it all.  But you don't seem to have a floppy drive ...

But this depends on the machine behaving exactly as in the manual.

Now, If you leave the machine off overnight or a couple of days and then try restarting does the video come back?

This is the worrying part (video failure), indicating either power supply failing (can't supply sufficient power) or motherboard failure.

>>  And is the CMOS just to store BIOS settings, or what?

Yes, such as Date, Time etc
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by:rindi
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I wouldn't try restoring the BIOS if there is the chance the caps or some other hardware is bad, as that could make things worse. A BIOS usually doesn't break just like that by itself, but rather the most common reason for them to fail is if you did a BIOS upgrade and that failed. That's what the recovery option is for. I doubt you tried upgrading the BIOS before the problem started.
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by:Korbus
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While I would normally agree with Rindi about this, I disagree in this case, only because you got this message:
" Bad BIOS Checksum.  Starting BIOS Recovery..."

If one does have faulty hardware, how could restoring/re-installing the bios make it worse, Rindi?
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by:web_tracker
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I totally agree I highly doubt this is a bios corruption issue but a hardware issue mostlikely a bad powersupply (either not providing the proper voltage where needed or not enough ampherage). This often occurs when the powersupply starts to die. The only way you can make sure if it is a bad power supply is to either test it with either a volt meter or power supply tester, or to swap the powersupply with one you know is working properly. If it is not the powersupply it could be the on board video card, or other components on the mobo. If it is just the video card that has failed you may get by with adding a video card, but if one part of the mobo has failed it probably indicates something else may fail on the board sooner are later.
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by:rindi
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The problem is that if the hardware is faulty, doing a BIOS upgrade can fail in such a way that it bricks the mainboard, and even a BIOS recovery may then not work anymore.
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>>  Are you saying I should be able to easily update BIOS without video?   <<  i don't know what to think without video ??  and allthe time you get messages on the screen ?
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Thanks dbrunton,
> "Now, If you leave the machine off overnight or a couple of days and then try restarting does the video come back?"
Just tried leaving it for about 40 hours, then tryied to start it 3 times.  None of the 3 showed anything on the screen.

Hi nobus,
> "and allthe time you get messages on the screen ?"
No, as per my original post:
    "Sometimes when I turn it on, all that comes up on the screen is:
        Bad BIOS Checksum.  Starting BIOS Recovery...
      ...
      Most of the time, nothing at all appears on the screen when I turn it on.  Just the fan noises which always happen."
And in a later post, I wrote:
    "Most of the time I'm getting nothing on the screen now (last 10 boots or so all gave blank screens)."


And some more questions:
  Q5. Assuming there is only 1 cause of these problems (which is starting to look unlikely), could a bad power supply or bad video cause BIOS checksum errors?
  Q6. In recent boot attempts, I've started hearing the power supply fan making a loud noise sometimes.  There's a sticker on the outside of the case, next to the fan, which says "Ball bearing", so I assume this fan has ball bearings (is that a better type?).  Is the noise likely to indicate the ball bearings are getting smaller and loose, or what?

Thanks again.
tel2
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by:rindi
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Bad caps in all those components are very common causes for for this. Almost all motherboards or Powersupplies that I've seen going bad were caused by bad caps.
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Often when the fans start becoming louder it is because there is an accumulation of dust and residue that sticks on the blades, some of the blades may have more dust than others causing the fan blades to be somewhat off balanced causing more noises, it also can be caused by lack of lubrication, it is smaller possibility that the ball bearings are loose (but highly unlikely). The ballbearing fans last a long time but I guess if there is a lack of lubrication they can possibly wear prematurely. The power supply can cause all types of symptoms depending upon the voltage/ampherage output of the powersupply, if it is failing then the output may not provide optimal power to the board causing the POST to fail, unable to read the bios properly, no video, hard drives/optical drives not detected properly etc.  If there are issues with the fan on the power supply the power supply may be overheating causing power issues as well.  It really is hard to troubleshoot what is exactly the cause of the problems with this computer and unless you have spare parts kicking around such as another power supply  or a video card that you can plug into this system you may be best to take it to a computer repair shop, they will have spare parts that they can swap out to find out what is wrong. Then if it is a mobo problem you can tell your friend it probably would cost more to fix it then buying a more modern computer. Often a home based business charges less than a store do to lower over head costs and they can troubleshoot by exchanging parts cheaper than a store can troubleshoot this issue. If you pay them to replace a part they may not charge the troubleshooting fee.
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My first test would be a replacement power supply.  Borrowed one if possible.

I've struck the symptoms of no video with a board that didn't have insufficient power.  Using a 100 watt power supply on something that needed at least 250 watts did this.  Now whether the insufficient power applies to your system I can't vouch for but that would be my first test.

Would not try anything else at this stage.
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by:tel2
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Thanks for all those tips, web_tracker.

And thanks for your suggestions, again dbrunton.
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by:nobus
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did you try the bios recovery  -without video?
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Not yet, nobus.  And I'm not sure that I will be doing so, at this stage, given what has been said.  Would you recommend it at this stage?
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by:nobus
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i have done it - when it was not not booting at all - so no video either
and yes it worked.
why believe somebody when saying it - when the manufacturer tells you otherwise?
i always try first what they say - and when that does not work, i look for other solutions
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by:dshin10
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Make sure the CPU is not overheated. Re-apply thermal compound and reseat heatsink/fan assembly.
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by:tel2
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Sorry for the long delay in getting back to this.

@dshin10:
> Make sure the CPU is not overheated. Re-apply thermal compound and reseat heatsink/fan assembly.
Is this possible since the problem happens in the 1st 10 secs of being turned on?  I would have thought it would take longer than that to heat up a CPU from being completely cold.

@nobus (or others),
I've just had a look at the manual, and section 2.1 "Managing and Updating BIOS" says how to update it, but all methods seem to require a floppy.  I don't have a floppy drive, and I don't think it's booting from USB either, because when I put a bootable USB (with FreeDOS) in, it just responded as if it wasn't there.  As you know, video is not working anymore.  Are you able to link me to any instructions re doing a blind BIOS upgrade from CD/DVD?  The DVD drive seems to be accessed during boot.

Thanks.
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by:nobus
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you can do it also from cd - if my memory is correct (you boot from cd - using F12 key ibelieve)
from the manual :  3. ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2 - Updates the BIOS using a bootable floppy disk or the
mother board support CD.
Refer to the corresponding section for each utility

here is how :  http://support.asus.com/Troubleshooting/detail.aspx?SLanguage=en&m=P8P67+DELUXE&os=8&no=1722
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Hi nobus,

That "Fail to update BIOS" link you have given appears to be for the "P8P67 DELUXE" motherboard, right?  But the motherboard I've got is the "K8V-MX".  If I look for the "Fail to update BIOS" instructions for it, I get this short page:
http://support.asus.com/Troubleshooting/detail.aspx?SLanguage=en&p=1&m=K8V-MX&s=20&hashedid=dJ2XP7zr8tzeYbLp&os=&no=977
Unfortunately, I can't take these options from that page:
2.1    If the support CD supplied with motherboard is available
2.1.1             Please restart system and put support CD into optical drive, then the system will recover BIOS automatically using CrashFree utility
because I don't have the support CD supplied with the motherboard.
The other BIOS upgrade option (2.2) requires a floppy drive, which I don't have.
Is there a way I can create my own support CD?  I don't see anything like that under the "Downloads" menu.  (The OS is "WinXP".)

I might try clearning the CMOS, but the jumpers are not quite like that picture shows.  Instead of 1 row of 3 pins, there's 2 (connected) rows of 3 pins (at that location on the motherboard).  Does that mean I've found the wrong manual?  Or can I just clear it by taking the batt out for a while?  How long (max) should be enough?
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by:nobus
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i doubt clearing the cmos will help, but you're free to t ry
you can always install a floppy (or find one from an old pc - there's lots around)
maybe this helps a bit also :  https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061021055436AAyctk8
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Yes, I saw that link shortly before writing my last post.  And I was also thinking I could borrow a floppy drive from an old Win98 PC.  Never installed one, though.  Does it just connect directly to the motherboard?
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by:nobus
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here is how to install it :  http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000414.htm
and here with a couple pictures (can help) :  http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/How-to-Install-a-Floppy-Disk-Drive/497

a deluxe - 8-step-install guide :  http://compreviews.about.com/od/tutorials/ss/DIYFloppy_2.htm
of course, your board needs a floppy drive connector, and it must be enabled in the bios to work
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Thanks for those great links, nobus.  I used the last one, and temporarily borrowed the floppy drive from my old 1998 Dell PC, connected it to the mother board, made a bootable floppy on a different PC, copied the BIOS version 0211 onto it (filename K8VMX211.ROM), and booted from it, and the PC started.  I was then able to reboot and get into WinXP!
I am not confident that the BIOS was actually read from the floppy, coz it seemed too fast for booting and reading a 512KB file.  Might have just been a coincidence, but anyway, it's sorted, and has booted successfully several times, and run OK for hours.

Thanks to all of you for your help!
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anyway - doing that seems to have "unlocked" the problem
don't forget to close this !
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I hadn't forgotted, nobus, but just ran out of time when I wrote my last post.

Thanks everyone for all your help with this.  Not enough points to go around, but I hope I've been reasonably fair with distribution, which took me quite a while to do.

2 optional minor outstanding questions that I have from this, are:

    a) Is upgrading the motherboard firmware different from upgrading the BIOS?  (Some experts above mentioned upgrading the BIOS and Korbus mentioned upgrading the firmware.)

    b) Would backing up the BIOS (using the ASUS's AFUDOS program in this case), include the BIOS settings (i.e. options selected) in the backup?

Thanks.
tel2
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by:web_tracker
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updating the bios and firmware are usually used interchangeably by some people. Firmware upgrade is usually referred to when you upgrade the firmware of things like optical drives, and printers, where as a bios upgrade is usually mobo related. backing up the bios is a good thing in case the flashing of the bios goes haywire, or you lose power while it is upgrading. This is very rare, but it does happen a backup can save your mobo.
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Thanks web_tracker,

Good answer to my question a)!

Was that meant to be an answer to question b) aswell?  If so, it doesn't seem to answer it.  It's about backing up BIOS settings.
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by:nobus
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in general, bios upgrades do not preserve the settings; they change a different block of the eprom software
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So I assume that means that BIOS backups do not backup the settings, in general?
If so, is there an easy way to backup (and restore) BIOS settings?
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by:rindi
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What do you need to backup the settings for? The defaults very often are fine, and if you need other settings, just change them. it's a matter of seconds.
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by:nobus
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i never had trouble with bios settings, but if you have problems - post them here
we'll help you out
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I guess that means there's no easy way to back them up.

I'm not having trouble with them yet, nobus, but just thought it would be good to back them up on this friend's PC lest I ever need to restore them.
But hopefully the defaults will be fine, as rindi says.

Thanks again.
tel2
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