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What To Do When an Advised BIOS Upgrade Is Bad?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the wishful-thinking dept.

Bug 467

Bomarc writes "Twice now I've been advised to 'flash the BIOS to the latest,' once by a (major) hard drive controller maker (RAID); once by an OEM (who listed the update as 'critical,' and has removed older versions of the BIOS). Both times, the update has bricked an expensive piece of equipment. Both times, the response after the failed flash was 'It's not our problem, it's out of warranty.' Given that they recommended / advised that the unit be upgraded, shouldn't they shoulder the responsibility of BIOS upgrade failure? Also, if their design had sockets rather than soldering on parts, one could R/R the faulty part (BIOS chip), rather than going to eBay and praying. Am I the only one that has experienced this type of problem? Have you been advised to upgrade a BIOS (firmware); and the upgrade bricked the part or system? If so, what did you do? Should I name the companies?"

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Yes (5, Interesting)

platypusfriend (1956218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851435)

You should name the companies.

Do a public service and let us know (5, Informative)

Johnny Loves Linux (1147635) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851511)

It's been almost 4 years since I built my last box. I'm planning on building another desktop this summer and would like to know who to avoid as I'm intending to purchase a motherboot that's supported by coreboot so I don't have to deal with UEFI. If there's a motherboard vendor doing evil stuff and they're listed I would like to avoid them if I can. Here's the link for supported motherboards: http://www.coreboot.org/Supported_Motherboards [coreboot.org]

Re:Yes (5, Informative)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851559)

Hard drive RAID controller: by LSI [lsi.com]

System: Dell [dell.com] PE 1950; critical update for the BMC controller.

... BTW: EMS firmware upgrade for the BSM [dell.com] V 2.50 bricked two motherboards. The motherboard for system #1 *may* have had a faulty BMC, however system #2 was working perfectly.

Re:Yes (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851581)

I've upgraded a number of LSI RAID controllers. Sometimes you can't skip intermediate levels, so if your firmware was way out of date that could be the problem. You also need to use the latest version of their tools.

Re:Yes (4, Informative)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851623)

LSI: I ran into problems with later hard drives being recognized. I was advised to flash the BIOS. It bricked the controller. After the advice of "buy another"; I removed all of the (in service) LSI controllers, as the risk of data loss (and the need for later hard drive compatibility) forced me to remove them.

Re:Yes (4, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851637)

Yes - buy another is definitely going to make you buy one of their products again.

Just tell them that you will look at competitors. And there are a few around to select between.

Re:Yes (5, Interesting)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851851)

I tell anyone who is considering a serious deployment of hardware RAID that they should buy two of the cards from day one, to have one in a backup server. Then you can run experiments on unrecognized drives or firmware updates on the backup. Also, if something fails on the main server, it increases the odds you'll be able to get to the data if it's still intact. Needing spares around is unfortunately part of the overhead of having this sort of hardware.

RAID controllers are pretty low volume products compared to a lot of other computer parts. And the problem where a new drive doesn't work with an old controller is depressingly common too. You could just as easily run into this same issue with any other RAID hardware. LSI at least does keep updating things. I have a drawer full of old RAID cards that stopped being useful mainly because the manufacturer gave up on updates.

Ever since 3ware was assimilated by LSI, there aren't many viable alternatives to them, if you must have hardware RAID. The only good reason to prefer it over software RAID nowadays, where you can move the drives anywhere and read them, is that booting is preserved in more failure cases. It's easy to let the boot area of a software RAID1 volume be mismatched.

Re:Yes (2)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851693)

"Dell". Well, there's your problem. Hindsight is 20/20, but if there's any chance at all you can move away from Dell, I would strongly consider that. You always have to balance short term expense with long term maintenance costs.

I can't speak for the RAID controller since I don't have experience there, but this response is really inexcusable.

Some companies do this: Create a public site/page somewhere and post a detailed story of how and what happened. Usually that gets a response from the company to mitigate bad PR and sometimes they may respond with a fix regardless of being out of warranty.

Re:Yes (2)

mvdwege (243851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851985)

Nonsense. Dell's Pro Support is reasonably good, especially once you get past the first line.

The major problem I have had with Dell is their insistence on doing fast model upgrades and giving lower-quality support on superseded hardware SKUs; not to mention their lousy habit of upgrading the hardware but continuing to use the same model number in their catalogue.

Re:Yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851707)

I've flashed the BMC 2.5.0 upgrade on probably a dozen PE 1950/2950 machines with zero failures.

Bad luck possibly?

Re:Yes (2, Informative)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851733)

So, you've got one or more servers which have lapsed warranty. You applied BIOS updates and bricked your controllers.

I don't mean to be a knob but I think the fault doesn't particularly lie with the vendor. Unless the update bricks most or all cards out there, it's more likely your config or procedure resulted in this. The bottom line is that you're running a non-warrantied configuration and something something something, resulting in bad. It doesn't matter what the something is, nobody's obligated to support a set of hardware that doesn't have support maintenance in place on it. I absolutely cringe for you... your situation totally sucks, but even if the update was named "OMGWTF PONIES! CLICK HERE!", you still did a maintenance function on a machine while lacking the standard support safety net.

Realistically, even just USING the server is at-your-own-risk. Anything you do beyond "shut it off and replace it" is - sadly - your own circumstance.

Re:Yes (3, Informative)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851913)

"Lapsed" warranty is not fair. They (Dell) won't let me renew it. Up to the (Urgent: Recommended) flash upgrade, the systems worked fine, and were being re-purposed.

Also, do you think that they (the manufacturer) is going to say (or admit) or have a warning that says: "66% of the people that applied this critical update bricked their system" ??

As for "OMGWTF PONIES! CLICK HERE"; there is a radical difference between "critical by manufacturer" and "ponies"

Re:Yes (5, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851955)

I don't mean to be a knob but I think the fault doesn't particularly lie with the vendor.

I view it differently. The vender advised the work. If I called up Toyota and asked advice about something for my 10 year old truck*, while it might be out of warranty if their advice resulted in major damage I think they should be liable for something.

Your advice seems to be along the lines of 'buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment every year to replace equipment that is still functional solely to keep the warranty up'.

That's not good for the company's wallet, the environment, etc...

*Not that old yet, but still

Responsibility (3, Insightful)

gd2shoe (747932) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851987)

There is a degree of truth in what you're saying. He does shoulder responsibility here.

On the other hand, what the vendors have done is childish, at best. They have suggested he do something to the hardware, they participated (wrote the update), and when the metaphorical window broke, they ran like miscreants. Their mothers should really give them a firm talking to and send them to apologize.

Re:Yes (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851745)

What's the failure mode on each of {the BMC, the PERC}? I have some experience handling failures of this nature.

In particular, it's been my experience that on some Dell models of that generation, if you update the BMC firmware without updating the NIC firmware as well, the BMC will fail to be reachable on the network. Fortunately a NIC F/W update fixes this readily enough.

I wish they told you that.

[Too lazy to log in.]

Re:Yes (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851769)

You mention in TFS that you can handle replacing socketed chips. Using a heat gun to re-flow and remove/replace SMT chips isn't much of a stretch from that. If you could get your hands on a replacement chip, that is. I used a wagner heat gun from home depot ( http://openschemes.com/2009/10/16/heat-gun-homebrew-smt-rework-tutorial/

Re:Yes (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851789)

Hmm.. something happened to my post.. anyway, that example is not mine - just one I found on the internet (although I have done it before). It's easier than you'd think it would be.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851867)

You can also try chip quik, it's a little less likely to damage stuff. :) And it's still cheap and within reach of someone doing the repair at home. I was happy enough using this stuff to replace SMD parts (mostly bios chips or drive controllers) on PS2s during my PS2 modchipping + repair years. :)

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

cyberzephyr (705742) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851857)

This poster is correct. These companies need to be named so that other folks don't get screwed by them. Case in point i have a SAMSUNG 32 inch tv. It started turning itself on and off, so i called the company and found out they lost a class action suit and had to send a tech to your home to fix the problem. Hmm did SAMSUNG call me or even send a letter about this? NO. The SOB's need to be told on period!

hell, yes, name them (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851937)

the basic issue is this... the vendors are pretending to support their slop, but don't. so let us all know who to avoid.

and you're right, BIOS should be removeable. alternatively, there should be an external-force component so even if the BIOS goes to Mars one-way, the flash can be reloaded through some sort of tool... say, a USB dongle... that could be standardized and put on the pegboard for $20.

Ah, they've been reading Ubersoft comics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851449)

Upgrade-Switch [eviscerati.org]

If it works, why bother? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851457)

I have this issue, too. But this is with Fedora 18 software (yeah, but it's the same idea).
It's like whack-a-mole, the update fixes one thing, but breaks several others. I'd say, unless there's
a real reason to upgrade, especially on legacy equipment, don't.

This happened to me.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851461)

I was on the phone with Cisco help desk regarding a problem with my wireless router. They told me to upgrade my BIOS. As they (2 help desk people) were on the line I flashed the BIOS. The BIOS failed and bricked the router. They told me to call another Cisco number and the person there refused to replace the unit. It took me a long time to forgive Cisco on that one.

Sure Name Them (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851463)

I found updating a motherboard's BIOS from Windows is as safe as Russian roulette. I found most motherboards have a SPI bus connector. You can make a parallel port to SPI adapter and save a bad flash.

What you're really asking... (5, Insightful)

Let's All Be Chinese (2654985) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851469)

is what the legal status of their "recommendations" is and whether you ought to sue them.

The tried-and-true andwer to that is: Ask a lawyer. I'm quite sure it can and does swing either way depending on local laws and any number of details you haven't provided.

Re:What you're really asking... (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851613)

Might be helpful to record the phone call where they told you to upgrade the BIOS, also.

Re:What you're really asking... (1)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851659)

Not legal in this state... HOWEVER: I believe that Dell does record every conversation....

Re:What you're really asking... (2)

cob666 (656740) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851771)

There are NO states in the US where it is illegal to record a phone conversation. Most states require that at least ONE party consent to the recording, other states require all parties to consent to the recording.

If you want to record phone conversations you simply have to state that the conversation may be recorded for quality control purposes. If the other party doesn't hang up or object then that is implied consent.

Re:What you're really asking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851827)

Only not legal if you don't tell them right? Surely a call can be recorded if all parties are aware, yes?

Record calls, and tell those that you are recording that you are doing so. If a "first-line" rep. is uncomfortable with that, ask for a supervisor. If they are uncomfortable, take it up with their legal/PR folks.

"Why are you refusing to allow me to record the call? Are you worried about liability? What might you be liable for? Providing inaccurate and bad advise? Surely you wouldn't be knowingly providing bad and inaccurate advise would you? Surely your staff are trained to provide only the best and most professional advise, right? If liability is your worry then (a) you need to do some training and (b) let me talk to somebody that you know will guide me correctly."

Ultimately, if they won't let you record the conversation, that is all you need to know about how much you can trust the advise you are getting.

If I were managing an "overseas" pump-and-dump-call-centre, er, I mean support department, I'd likely not let you record the call either. But you know why, right?

Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (-1, Troll)

CyberBill (526285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851479)

It's you. I've flashed firmwares of hundreds of devices - motherboards, phones, video cards, embedded systems, routers, etc, and I have never once had one of them brick.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (1)

Shag (3737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851515)

I can't say hundreds, but yeah, I've flashed a bunch of stuff without bricking. Most of it was Apple kit, though.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (4, Insightful)

Sipper (462582) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851529)

It's you. I've flashed firmwares of hundreds of devices - motherboards, phones, video cards, embedded systems, routers, etc, and I have never once had one of them brick.

That's not a fair statement, because the specific devices and firmware versions have not yet been stated, so your statement is completely based on an assumption based solely on your experiences, which may nor may not have any relevance to this hardware in question. Thus what you're doing is known as "blaming the victim".

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851627)

Thus what you're doing is known as "blaming the victim"

I guess the question is, "so what"? Sometimes the victim of something is to blame.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851633)

It's you. I've flashed firmwares of hundreds of devices - motherboards, phones, video cards, embedded systems, routers, etc, and I have never once had one of them brick.

That's not a fair statement, because the specific devices and firmware versions have not yet been stated, so your statement is completely based on an assumption based solely on your experiences, which may nor may not have any relevance to this hardware in question. Thus what you're doing is known as "blaming the victim".

It's only victim blaming if he's actually been victimized. With the evidence we have, it's just as likely that he's not a victim and is instead just doing it wrong; in which case it's perfectly fine to blame him.

You'll say that we should assume his innocence until proven otherwise, and I'll counter that we should assume the innocence of the company that suggested firmware upgrade--there's a much better chance they know what they're doing better than the subby.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851819)

FFS, is this a court room?
A Witch Hunt for what you perceive as the inept?

You are missing the element of every business model.
Retaining customer loyalty and their positive recommendation based on experience.

Until all avenues for solutions, from said company (or alternative company solutions: IE replaceable Bios chips etc...) are exhausted, only then can the blame squarely and fairly fall on the user.

If, it was user error, it still does not resolve the issues/choices at hand, by you spinning the communique to simply blame and shame them for what you see as two side to every story.

Captain obvious much?

Focus on solutions, then you'll have a valid point.
Anything less is just you acting like a jackass with nothing of value to add.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851831)

If the only two times the "victim" flashed a bios he bricked a device I suspect a loose nut behind the keyboard.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851533)

That's great. It's never happened to you. You're one of the lucky ones. There are plenty of us who that has happened to, though, so kindly STFU unless you have something CONSTRUCTIVE to add to the conversation.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (2)

Grave (8234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851739)

No, actually, the people who have issues with BIOS/firmware updates are in the vast minority. Updates don't remain on a support site for long if the update itself has an issue. The vast majority of "bricks" caused by firmware flashing are either the fault of the person doing it, or the hardware already had a failure somewhere that was exacerbated by the flash.

Considering that IT departments flash hundreds/thousands of systems regularly, the handful of gripes you see on forums are just that - a handful.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851547)

I have. It happens. It wasn't a true brick as I was able to pull out some incompatable hardware (with the new bios rev) and get it to boot, but I couldn't downgrade either, so I was stuck without that piece of hardware until it got fixed. If I had been your average user, however, and did not dare open the case, it would have been effectively bricked. Then again, your average user never upgrades their bios.

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (1)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851639)

I'm glad that every one of your flash updates has worked. I've performed MANY upgrades successfully. I follow the directions, make sure the power is good, etc. Success not the question here, but - what happens when one is advised of an upgrade (not just a casual ... look it's late) and the upgrade fails?

Re:Flashed hundreds of devices - no problems. (2)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851999)

The failure rate on many computer related things floats at some fraction of a percent. If you've only done a few hundred of them, it wouldn't surprise me that you haven't seen a BIOS failure. It's not that unlikely from a statistics standpoint, just like two bad updates in a row is unlikely--but it's surely happening to some unlucky soul.

I got a shipment of 500 motherboards once that turned out to need an update before they could be deployed, to add support for the CPUs purchased. A bit under 1% of those BIOS updates didn't work out and the boards had to be RMAd. It was less of a problem than ones that were DOA though, where the system wouldn't even boot far enough to do the update. (These were Asus board in 2003, and I dream of DOA rates this low now)

hello, bob! (oblig. xkcd) (5, Interesting)

sdnoob (917382) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851481)

Name the products (2)

cnettel (836611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851483)

Name the products, which will of course also tell us the companies. However, it is very hard to evaluate this in general terms. A flash operation can always go wrong. If the updated code expliclitly recommended by the vendor was in fact incompatible, then I think they are at fault to some extent even for out-of-warranty hardware. But that's the only case.

Never made a brick but (1)

kawabago (551139) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851487)

I never made a brick by flashing the BIOS but I never solved a problem that way either. It was always a malfunctioning chip on the board that the BIOS can't solve.

Re:Never made a brick but (1)

Psyborgue (699890) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851575)

You must be very lucky. My last MB had SLI issues. Current one has raid issues with the firmware on one of my drives. Both fixed with a bios/few update. Some stability issues too.

Consider it a (technology) life lesson (1, Interesting)

Zenin (266666) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851489)

Don't buy hardware that can be bricked by flashing the BIOS. In this modern day and age there's just no reason for it, especially not for a price anyone would call "expensive".

Dual BIOS setups are ideal, but the ability to backup the current BIOS in case it needs to be rolled back is a must reguardless.

Re:Consider it a (technology) life lesson (1)

Sipper (462582) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851553)

Don't buy hardware that can be bricked by flashing the BIOS.

Unfair statement; this was a situation where firmware came out later, and also almost all hardware (video cards, hard disks, network cards, motherboards, etc) has flashable firmware. Even if you have a backup of the BIOS, that cannot always save you -- like a backup of a video BIOS when the videocard can't work because it's BIOS is borked so that the screen is always black.

Re:Consider it a (technology) life lesson (1, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851791)

Don't buy hardware that can be bricked by flashing the BIOS.

Unfair statement; this was a situation where firmware came out later, and also almost all hardware (video cards, hard disks, network cards, motherboards, etc) has flashable firmware.

No you fool. It's not unfair. You're just ignorant, as in ignoring what he said. Hardware exists that can have a factory read only ROM, and a Flash-able ROM that you update. If a firmware update fails part way through or becomes corrupt the hardware can re-flash itself with the known good fallback copy of the original factory ROM firmware. The stuff like hard drives and video cards that have flashable firmware can be reflashed from another boot media. The onboard GPU can be used until you un-gork your graphics card firmware. Don't have onboard GPU as a fallback? Well, who's fault is that? Buy unbrickable hardware, it's really that simple. Sometimes it'll cost you more, sometimes A LOT more, but if you think it's worth it, then pay for it, we solved this issue. It's fair to make you pay more for the solution you want that most other folks don't actually need. Hardware that's out of warranty probably means the price is now about half of what it was when you bought it new -- Cost less to replace than the time to fix it or the difference between it and the dual firmware model -- Except MOBOs, it's a pretty standard feature there.

Re:Consider it a (technology) life lesson (1)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851669)

A true bricking BIOS update will trash the system so badly you can't reach any backup BIOS. By definition, if the machine is still functional enough to allow reverting the BIOS update, you didn't really brick it.

Name names (4, Interesting)

edcheevy (1160545) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851501)

I generally exercise some degree of distrust towards computer manufacturer recommendations when my product is no longer under warranty and their legal team likely has them relatively well protected against your situation, but I'd definitely name names. Send a note to the Consumerist, find a few execs and contact them directly. It may be legal, but it's a dishonest approach for those companies to take. It doesn't cost you much time and energy to bring unwanted attention to the companies and that attention is sometimes enough to suddenly get your components replaced. It won't cause systematic change, but at least you're better off.

Not one to miss an opportunity for a car analogy: if a critical recall fix bricked your ride, I think most everyone would agree it is the manufacturer's responsibility to make things right even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Of course, there's obviously more regulation involved and a more direct correlation to physical safety in the case of cars (i.e., you are putting yourself at risk of bodily harm if you choose to disregard the recall fix).

Don't fix it if it aint broke (5, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851523)

If it is working, then an "upgrade" cannot make it better. It can only be the same or worse.

Re:Don't fix it if it aint broke (1)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851625)

If it is working, then an "upgrade" cannot make it better. It can only be the same or worse.

Right! That's why I hold on to Netscape Navigator 1.0.

Re:Don't fix it if it aint broke (1)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851751)

If it is working, then an "upgrade" cannot make it better. It can only be the same or worse.

Right! That's why I hold on to Netscape Navigator 1.0.

Dang right! And my rotary phone with the long extension suites me just fine!

... god help me with his Java updates

Re:Don't fix it if it aint broke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851829)

Do you also keep the 486 it's usually found on?

Ummmm, no (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851861)

That is not at all the case. BIOS/firmware/driver updates/upgrades can potentially do four things for a working system:

1) Add new features. Many products get new features as their life goes on. My desktop board, an Intel, has gotten a number of new BIOS features during its life. When you update the code that runs something, no surprise that code can add features.

2) Improve performance. Sometimes, a faster/more efficient way of doing something is discovered. It takes an update to make that happen. I remember a big one back in the day with 3com switches. A firmware update provided a major improvement in through put and CPU usage.

3) Fix a bug that you haven't hit yet, but could. This is why you'll see updates tagged as urgent. Just because you never hit a bug that got discovered, doesn't mean the bug isn't there. So you want to get it fixed, BEFORE you hit it. There have been firmware updates that fixed some nasty ones, like data corruption with SSDs. Some people never got hit, but that doesn't mean the update wasn't a good idea.

4) Security issues. Same deal as with the bugs, just a different kind of bug. If a security issue is discovered, it'll take a patch to fix it and the system will be working before the patch.

The "Don't fix it if it ain't broke," really is not a valid ideology for systems administration.

Re:Don't fix it if it aint broke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851875)

Disagree. I work for a company that makes computer hardware that takes firmware updates (none of the companies mentioned in this article). Some of the updates we have released do have back-end changes to prevent future problems (for instance, one issue which was resolved could cause the card to brick itself down the road if not corrected). The product appeared to be working fine to an end-user up until the point it broke due to this issue. By your logic, the update we offered was not needed, however there was a decent chance that a user who did not install this update would end up with a brick someday.

Posting as AC as this is related to issues that were found in my company's product

Why are you flashing these devices? (1)

jimicus (737525) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851531)

Why are you flashing these devices?

The only "critical" firmware upgrade is one which will - or at least has a fighting chance of - fixing an issue you are actively experiencing.

You should flash new stuff out of the box as they (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851567)

You should flash new stuff out of the box as they can be quite behind.

Re:You should flash new stuff out of the box as th (2)

jimicus (737525) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851931)

Yeah, that's fair. But these devices aren't out of the box, they're out of warranty.

Re:Why are you flashing these devices? (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851621)

Occasionally, if you are calling about an issue, the manufacturer will suggest it. Some will refuse to help you until you ensure that everything (BIOS, drivers, etc.) is up to date.

Re:Why are you flashing these devices? (1)

jimicus (737525) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851921)

They're out of warranty, I'd be surprised if the manufacturer is even entertaining any discussion.

Why not just desolder the chip... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851543)

... and solder a socket in?

Re:Why not just desolder the chip... (1)

rs79 (71822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851577)

A SMT chip with 30 mil leads? Good luck with that.

It can be done but you need really, really special tools. As in a microelectronics lab.

Re:Why not just desolder the chip... (2)

BigDish (636009) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851883)

These really aren't hard to do. I can take one off in under a minute, and I'm not even that good at it. SMT stuff is nowhere near as scary as people make it out to be.

Re:Why not just desolder the chip... (1)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851593)

Which part to remove? In the system, there are four parts that have "copyright" stickers on them. Once I get the part removed, where to I get a "true" image of the BIOS to replace? (Dell only gives install via GUI, no image that I can find).

Why did you upgrade? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851549)

Whenever I had to upgrade a BIOS or firmware, it was usually on a brand new system or only a few months later for some recent issue. When equipement is out of warranty, you need to take that into account. What was important enough that required you to upgrade the BIOS?

As a technician working on site for various clients, I would warn the clients of potential problems every single time. If I had to update a motherboard BIOS to fix a problem, I would tell them that if the update fail, the system woouldn't boot and this could delay their operation. If the motherboard wasn't under warranty anymore, I would tell them that they would need to replace it. If the system was too old, I would suggest that they forget the risky procedure and consider buying a new server. It's all relative to the client and the problem, but you need to cover your base so that they are the one making the decision and taking responsibility for it.

Since you listed the update as "critical", you need to balance the pros and cons of doing this type of update. While updating the OS is a requirement against vulnerabilities, updating a BIOS isn't like that(most of the time). Sometime, you just need to tell the boss, "listen, if we don't update the firmware, it's possible that we'll get that bug that will destroy our data, and if we update the firmware, it's possible that we'll get some other problem, I suggest "this" and "this" but you need to be aware of the risks."

Re:Why did you upgrade? (2)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851667)

Since you listed the update as "critical", you need to balance the pros and cons of doing this type of update. While updating the OS is a requirement against vulnerabilities, updating a BIOS isn't like that(most of the time). Sometime, you just need to tell the boss, "listen, if we don't update the firmware, it's possible that we'll get that bug that will destroy our data, and if we update the firmware, it's possible that we'll get some other problem, I suggest "this" and "this" but you need to be aware of the risks."

For BIOS and firmware, generally the update isn't critical no matter what a manufacturer says, especially on equipment that's been running for years. I would't update any server hardware firmware after a year in service unless I was experiencing problems, as those servers will generally not see any operations that are not already happening - IOW, their purpose is set and they are operating fine as is. No change needed. I might monitor them more closely after such a bulletin though, and perhaps plan an earlier than expected replacement.

Name the products, please (1)

Sipper (462582) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851561)

I think it's best if the original author would please name the particular products.

Re:Name the products, please (1)

matty619 (630957) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851657)

Not a bad idea. I'm rather curious myself. Was it flashed with a Windows executable? Or from a boot disc? USB flash drive or cd-r?

Re:Name the products, please (2)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851779)

See my previous comments, they are upthere.

For the Dell system - Windows exe (for the BMC upgrade, listed by Dell as "critical")

For the LSI it was a boot disk

However: the question is about the failure -- when advised to upgrade, and the upgrade fails what to do then.

Your stuck between a rock and a hard place.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851565)

Bios updates are often important, Many company's I've worked with say your on your own if the flash goes wrong. If its a socketed BIOS chip and the flash went wrong you could ask them to send you the new bios on a rom chip, it will cost you some money but its better than binning the device.

If the Bios chip is soldered in place that makes it much harder, I've found more inexpensive hardware uses soldered bios chips. Rather than fighting against them your best bet is probably to ask them what they suggest, you will get more help by being nice and firm, than being miserable and demanding.
The other thing you have to look at is why did the bios update fail in the first place?
If you hardware is out of warranty and you have preformed maintenance on them that causes the device to become non functional, your on the hook for that in most cases.
The last thing you could do is look around and see if you can find someone that does chip level repairs, they normally have the equipment to properly pull the chip and reflash it using something like a prom burner

Because It Froze! (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851573)

A Crucial consumer SSD (yeah I know, not a CPU) stopped, instantaneously.

Answer from Crucial: "Update Firmware". Updating involved the consumer understanding how to use cryptic commands in various states of the pre-boot process on a 2nd machine running Windows with wording no consumer would have ever likely understood and then used in a command line.

Companies who sell things like this without having adequate software and instructions do not DESERVE TO BE SUPPORTED by consumers.

Intel BIOS (1)

matty619 (630957) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851589)

I have never had a problem since switching to using only Intel boards with Intel bios. The upgrade process usually goes quite well (I've probably flashed 100 or so Intel boards over the past 3 or 4 years) and if there is ever a problem, it automatically rolls the changes back. Out of that 100 or so bios flashes, 0 have been bricked. That being said, when it comes to consumer grade boards, especially when they're out of warranty, I just assume I'm on my own and if something like that happens, its off to EBay or Craigslist.

Re:Intel BIOS (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851663)

You do know Intel is getting out of the mobo biz, right?

I've really only found it necessary to flash a mobo BIOS once in the past 10 years or so. It made my hands sweat. Not going to do it again if I can avoid it at all.

Re:Intel BIOS (1)

matty619 (630957) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851729)

I heard that they're getting out of the socketed CPU biz. All CPUs will be soldered directly to the board....but I had not heard they were planning on ceasing production all together. If true, I will be very sad.

I used to feel the same as you about bios updates....don't do it unless its broken, but Intel has the process so silky smooth now, its just standard practice for me to update the bios on any Intel board that I work on. Don't do much individual desktop work anymore, but it still happens occasionally.

Re:Intel BIOS (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851805)

No problem. Even my cheap ASRock MOBO has dual firmware (read: unbrickable).

Consider the Following... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851603)

If it's not broke, then don't fix it! And if you ever do try and fix the unbroken, then don't do it with any utility that updates the BIOS from within Windows!

What kind of warranty/support plan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851609)

What kind of support plan did you have in place on the devices in question?

You say they were "out of warranty," so I'm guessing these were not covered under any support or warranty plan, and that the manufacturers had no incentive or legal responsibility to actually fix your issue rather than giving standardized answers like "Reboot" and "Update the firmware."

If these are business-critical devices, I would suggest getting such a support plan, or, if it's cheaper, buying a second device as a standby unit and not upgrading both at once.

If these were personal devices, then (unless your jurisdiction has some kind of special consumer protection law...check!) I'd say you just learned a valuable lesson. Go flame the devices in online reviews, cross the manufacturers off your list, and better luck next time.

I once had to move a socketed BIOS chip to a other (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851629)

I once had to move (hot swap) a socketed BIOS chip to a other board that also had a socketed BIOS to re flash after it failed and it worked when I put it back in to the first board.

Does the card / board have an bios recovery mode? I did that a few times on laptops that where not booting and was able to fix most of them.

mod Down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851631)

outstrips show that *BSD has Mire of decay, fucking numbers, an operating system webZsite Third, you lesson and the accounting by BSDI who sell

Absolutely!!! (1)

frootcakeuk (638517) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851647)

Name and shame away!! I want to know which companies to avoid in that respect!

They don't make chips with pins (2)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851673)

Sockets are expensive and would add considerably to the height of the component. Everything is surface mount now.

Re:They don't make chips with pins (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851703)

Sockets are unreliable too.

Re:They don't make chips with pins (1)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851815)

Sockets are expensive and would add considerably to the height of the component. Everything is surface mount now.

Give the cost of a new system (or components), adding $1.00 per socket (approximate cost for sockets of this size) for parts that are likley to fail (I know the cost of sockets is less than this); this statement doesn't hold water.

Warranty (1)

Jaktar (975138) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851679)

If it is out of warranty, then of course you're the one at fault. Since it's out of warranty, it's on you to see what the firmware does and make the decision on whether or not to flash. Either way it's all on you to deal with the consequences.

You nearly always have the option of purchasing extended warranties for "critical" equipment. If it is really that critical, why didn't you replace it at the end of its warranty period?

Car (1, Informative)

zmooc (33175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851683)

I have a 1996 car. Sometimes things break or I want to alter something which requires modifications. Often, I turn to the service manual. If, while following the directions in it, something goes horrible wrong, I wouldn't even consider holding the manufacturer of the car responsible. That's what you should do too: deal with it. Take your loss, don't use outdated equipment or have it serviced/modified/upgraded by professionals that have insurance that covers these kinds of risks, which happens to be the single most important thing that makes professionals professionals.

Re:Car (1)

Bomarc (306716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851841)

But if the manufacturer said "This is a criticl update that you must perform" your response would be...

... or "your tires on this care are not legal to be used on street anymore. If you want to user your car, you must upgrade the tires." So, you upgrade the tires, and the upgrade of tires causes the car to crash. What would you do then?

Upgrading to the Latest Version (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851701)

Is the first thing you really should; always try for everything. Except maybe flashing firmware if you have no way to unbrick a faulty flash (but it is still what you will probably have to do to fix anything major).
Them telling you this is not them making a mistake, and they cannot guarantee how old out of warranty hardware will react to anything.

Why were you inquiring about problems in the first place? Maybe in both instances your expensive hardware was already broken and was bricked not because the advise was bad or the firmware was bad, but because the hardware was already malfunctioning.

Re:Upgrading to the Latest Version (1)

jchawk (127686) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851795)

Dell 1950's aren't expensive anymore. You can buy a complete drop in replacement system from eBay for 200 to 400 bucks depending on the options you need.

Thinkpad T500 adventure (2)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851711)

I have a Lenovo Thinkpad T500 brick that I made this way three months ago. I was running into a few weird Windows problems--everything was fine on Linux--and "upgrade the BIOS" was a stock troubleshooting suggestion. After a decade of happy Thinkpad ownership I didn't think this was risky. On the first reboot the update did something to fry the TPM chip. It worked fine before, never again afterward. Boots hung for about 10 minutes as the BIOS tried to talk to it, I stopped that only by disabling it there. And then the next week the computer stopped POST altogether. The laptop had been running fine for 3 years at that point. I've seen a few similar reports at the Lenovo forums; it's not just me. The only people who resolved this were still under warranty, the rest of us haven't considered it cost effective to pay for a fix.

I tried to jump two major point releases at once here, from 1.20 to 3.24 [lenovo.com] . My guess is that QA wasn't done on this much of a jump at once. Maybe 1.X->2.X->3.X or some other two step sequence would have worked. The Thinkpads have been disappointing is several ways recently, so I can't really say this surprised me.

Consumer Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851725)

Check your countries relevant consumer law. This would be covered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979 in the UK and similar law in most of Europe for up to 5 years after purchase. I'm unfamiliar with US law, do you have something similar?

What makes them 'critical'? (3, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851763)

I have some Thinkpads around here and it seems there's a firmware update every few months. But if you read the 'what's new' it's usually something stupid like "Old version updated to support new model xxxxxx" which I don't even have. Or worse "Corrected typo in BIOS menu."

Before I flash anything I'd like to know why and under what scenario, if any, it's necessary.

Rationalize your Upgrades (1)

jchawk (127686) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851775)

If the bios update isn't security related and you aren't experiencing the described issue or condition I would likely avoid doing the upgrade entirely.

Why open yourself up to the risk?

Common sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851845)

Assuming this is server hardware.

1: Vendor should have a documented recovery procedure. If they do not have one, I do not buy in the first place. If that's part of a service contract, I make sure to include that in the cost for the accountants and if they balk, offer to do without it and quote them per-incident support. When shazbot hit the fan, if they don't want to pay the per-incident support price, their heads hang, not yours. If they don't respond and walk away, it's still their fault.

2: I make sure we really do need the update. If its a new patch, I apply it, and the vendor says that equipment is end of life thus not supported, call bullshit and tell them you'll file a claim with the states attorney general.

3: It's 110% possible to have bad flash memory and not know it until afterwards. Considering the quality of most BIOS update utilities, I'd be very wary updating without a recovery procedure and make absolutely damnably sure you're doing it at a good time and have a backup plan if it fails.

How is this even a question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851849)

NAME AND SHAME.

Contribution: MSI Z68MA-ED55. Firmware update to support Ivy Bridge processors. Bricked it solid, and this turned out to be officially An Issue with the entire model.

It was still well within warranty, and it got fixed, but now I wonder whether I was a fool to simply pay one-way shipping for it, and at this point I'm soured on the brand.

Why can't they revert the upgrade? (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851869)

Many devices with a BIOS provide a way to do this. If the OEMs don't support such a scenario, then geez, shame on them.

Are you the only one stupid enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851903)

Are you the only one stupid enough to change a working system due to a warning about some severe edge case that won't ever happen in your server? Probably not, but you're the only one who still has a job. Be glad for that.

What did you expect? (1)

Vrtigo1 (1303147) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851951)

Would you expect them to replace something that's out of warranty? Read their warranty terms, it probably says that once the warranty ends, under all circumstances so does their obligation to you. That's why manufacturers sell extended warranties/maintenance plans.

Were you in warranty when you got the advise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42851961)

If you were out of warranty and you called the company you just cost them money. So the fact they provided any advise is great without charging you money. I mean would you expect to walk into best buy ask the geek squad to listen what is wrong with your system and them provide you a possible solution on how they would fix it without payment?

If it's not under warranty, why listen to them? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about a year and a half ago | (#42851963)

Both times, the update has bricked an expensive piece of equipment. Both times, the response after the failed flash was 'It's not our problem, it's out of warranty.'

If the device isn't under warranty, why are you listening to their advice in the first place? You upgrade firmware at the manufacturers' instructions BECAUSE you need them to provide warranty support, not just for the hell of it. I'm not even sure why THEY would be willing to spend their time talking to YOU if your systems are no longer under warranty.

Given that they recommended / advised that the unit be upgraded, shouldn't they shoulder the responsibility of BIOS upgrade failure?

Only if you can PROVE that the new firmware was massively faulty. There are tons of variables involved in upgrading the firmware of an advanced system, and they can't anticipate all scenarios, or have the ability to know how well your equipment was maintained before you upgraded.

It could be that YOU didn't bother to read the release notes that have critical instructions about clearing some values before performing the firmware upgrade. It could be that your hardware was about to fail, and the firmware upgrade caused the first reboot in months or years. Or maybe the flash had stuck bits, and the firmware change had to write there, and just exposed the faulty hardware as a MORE visible problem. You were upgrading because of OTHER problems, right? How do you know the problem wasn't the hardware becoming faulty?

Also, if their design had sockets rather than soldering on parts, one could R/R the faulty part (BIOS chip), rather than going to eBay and praying.

YOU bought the systems, as designed. You can't claim you were forced to buy a poorly designed system, or were forced to continue using it after the manufacturer would no longer extend the warranty on the device. Next time go find a system that has these components in sockets, and don't complain to us that it's more expensive, or isn't exactly what you wanted.

Have you been advised to upgrade a BIOS (firmware); and the upgrade bricked the part or system? If so, what did you do?

When dealing with hundreds or thousands of systems, any firmware upgrade is guaranteed to have issues on at least a few systems. So yes, I've seen lots of firmware upgrade issues, and dealt with them. But no, I've certainly never seen a firmware upgrade from equipment manufacturers that bricked ALL the devices we've appled them to.

Bricked systems are nearly a thing of the past. Decent motherboard manufacturers include dual BIOSes, or at least a minimal BIOS that'll allow re-flashing when a BIOS is corrupted.

Most of the time, there's some OEM command to restart the device, or load defaults, that gets your hardware back into a usable state. Sometimes the local system communications is hosed, but the network (web, IPMI) interface is still up, and allows firmware upgrades or other controls from the network. On occasion, a very, very small percentage of (old) equipment won't survive an update, even after trying everthing you've got. Then, you just have to write it off as any other hardware failure, because that's what it is.

For the most part, important systems are under warranty, and the OEM will replace faulty parts next day. If their firmware updates were breaking devices left and right, they'd be out one hell of a lot of money.

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