Solved BIOS Unbrick on Dell Vostro 410

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jakej78b

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Hey guys, I have a Vostro 410 that I recently tried to upgrade to BIOS version 1.03, because it rumored support for 8GB of ram, while the specifications state that the maximum ram supported on the board was 4GB. I ran the updater provided by dell in windows. The updater I used is http://downloads.dell.com/bios/V410-103.EXE

The updater appeared normal, told me I was on 1.0 and it was going to update to 1.03, I went ahead and pressed the update button and it erased the main block, then brought up an error message while trying to write the new version. I decided to shutdown because ultimately I couldn't leave it running forever. The BIOS is Phoenix and supposedly Phoenix has support for recovering BIOS by using win+b or fn+b, but I am having trouble getting these to work as I have a wireless keyboard and most things I've read say you have to use ps2, which isn't even included on this system. I have a usb floppy drive, as well as a conventional floppy drive and a usb flash drive. I've tried to use wincrisis with minidos.sys but haven't got any luck this far. I've already pulled the battery and let it sit for over 10 hours and that had no effect, I'm pretty sure this isn't a settings problem.

Any ideas would be appreciated! Thanks in advanced.
 

Fireflycph

Morten
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It'll be more than difficult, if not impossible, if you've damaged the BIOS. You could try again using the DOS method of Bios update. However, I'm pretty sure you can't use a wireless keyboard for that.
 

jakej78b

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The computer won't POST so I doubt that is an option. I might be able to get a wired keyboard, but it would still be usb as this computer has no ps2 ports. Before I bricked it I could use the wireless keyboard to edit the BIOS with no issues.
 

Fireflycph

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If that's the case? I'm sure you've overwritten certain portions of the BIOS. So, as you said, it's bricked. I can't think of any way, short of sending it to Dell, that'll fix this problem. Maybe others have some ideas? Sorry I couldn't help at all.
 

jakej78b

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Well my main hope was Phoenix Crisis Recovery that is rumored to come with BIOS. I've read that you can use winkey+b to activate it while you have removable media connected that contains the rom of the bios to write to the chip.

Any idea where the BIOS chip is located in the Vostro 410? I was considering pulling it out or maybe buying a new one and resoldiering.
 
Last edited:

crjdriver

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You can try the following however there really is not much hope.
1 Download whatever bios you need. Do be sure it is the correct one.
2 You need to extract the bios file from the .exe download using something like 7zip or other file compression utility
3 Place the extracted bios file on the root of a FAT32 formatted usb flash drive
4 Open the case of the failed system and pull the pw connectors from ALL drives; both hd and optical
5 Insert the usb drive into a usb port on the back of the system. Do not use a front port
6 Pw ON the system and wait at least 10~15min. At the end of that period, pw OFF and remove the usb drive
7 Pw ON and see if the board will POST. If it does, consider yourself lucky and shutdown. Connect all drives and reboot.

As I said, there is not much hope and this is just one of the reasons why we stress DO NOT UPDATE a bios unless the update has a fix you need. There is never a need to have the latest and greatest bios. The ONLY reason to update a bios is if the update contains a fix you need OR you need to update to support a cpu upgrade.
 

flavallee

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I have a Vostro 410 that I recently tried to upgrade to BIOS version 1.03, because it rumored support for 8GB of ram, while the specifications state that the maximum ram supported on the board was 4GB.
After I read your thread yesterday, I did some research.
There were people who claimed to use 8 GB of DDR2 RAM in the Dell Vostro 410 desktop, but that was determined by which Intel processor is in it.
You never described the Intel processor in yours, so that's why I didn't reply back.

This means nothing anyway if the BIOS is trashed and your desktop is now a large doorstop.

--------------------------------------------------------------
 

jakej78b

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It has a Core 2 Quad. I'm planning on just buying a newer motherboard anyway, it's age is showing limitation
 

managed

Allan
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I think a new motherboard is your only solution now. Just make sure you're present Cpu and Ram is compatible with the motherboard you buy unless you want to upgrade them too.
 

crjdriver

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Another thing to consider; you cannot replace the mb in a dell and still use the copy of windows that came with the system. The only exception is if you purchase a replacement board from dell. It makes no sense to replace a your board with another one just like it. The dell replacement [if even still available] would be expensive.

An oem type windows lic lives and dies with the original hardware. You replace the board and you need a new copy of windows.
 

jakej78b

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You can try the following however there really is not much hope.
1 Download whatever bios you need. Do be sure it is the correct one.
2 You need to extract the bios file from the .exe download using something like 7zip or other file compression utility
3 Place the extracted bios file on the root of a FAT32 formatted usb flash drive
4 Open the case of the failed system and pull the pw connectors from ALL drives; both hd and optical
5 Insert the usb drive into a usb port on the back of the system. Do not use a front port
6 Pw ON the system and wait at least 10~15min. At the end of that period, pw OFF and remove the usb drive
7 Pw ON and see if the board will POST. If it does, consider yourself lucky and shutdown. Connect all drives and reboot.

As I said, there is not much hope and this is just one of the reasons why we stress DO NOT UPDATE a bios unless the update has a fix you need. There is never a need to have the latest and greatest bios. The ONLY reason to update a bios is if the update contains a fix you need OR you need to update to support a cpu upgrade.
Does the file I put on the flash drive need to have a specific name and extension? I know with the phoenix wincrisis it needs to be named bios.wph, but this appears to be a different method.

I was trying to update to get support for extra ram, since the system's bottleneck was ram.
 
Last edited:

crjdriver

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The update does not address anything to do with ram.
I just tried to extract the bios file from the .exe and it seems you need to run the exe file in a cmd prompt with the /writehdrfile switch. You need to copy the .exe file to the root of the flash drive then open a cmd prompt. Switch to the flash drive and type the name of the .exe file then the /writehdrfile. This will extract the bios and it should be on the root along with the .exe file.

BTW here are the release notes regarding the new bios;
Fixes/Enhancements:
1. Add support for new Intel CPUs.
2. Fan curve parameters update.
3. Updated Intel microcode.
No mention of anything to do with ram.

Again I would NOT hold out any real hope for fixing this problem. You might get lucky and it does not cost anything to attempt the recovery however that is as far as I would go. No sense in putting money into an 8yr old system.
 

jakej78b

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Apr 18, 2015
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Well the improved ram was only a rumor, it wasn't mentioned in release notes.

I was looking at a dell RW203 for my "new" motherboard. Do you think it would fit in the 410 case? I was also hoping to reuse my ram for the moment, but have the ability to upgrade in the future. From what I can tell the 203 supports ddr2 ram which is what I have. It's also a dual cpu server board and it looked like my graphics card should drop right into the pciex16 slot.

Parts I have:
4GB ddr2 ram
NVIDIA gtx 750
350 watt psu (might not be enough)
 

crjdriver

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Most likely a server board is not going to fit in the case AND you would also need a new copy of windows. You change the mb on an oem system and you need to purchase a new copy of windows. The only exception is when you purchase the designated replacement mb from dell.
Next server boards need ecc or error checking ram. So no, your ram is not going to work.
 
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