How to Flash the BIOS on a Dell Inspiron 531

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A computer's BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is a tiny but vital program stored on a ROM (Read-Only Memory) chip. It is built into the PC's motherboard, whose purpose is to initialize the computer's hardware and start loading the operating system. Motherboard manufacturers periodically create new BIOS versions to address problems or enhance compatibility with new hardware. In turn, PC makers like Dell make these updates available for download via their websites. The process of applying a BIOS update is called "Flashing."

  • Go to Dell's driver download site (see References).

  • Select the model from the product drop-down list. A list of available downloads will appear.

  • Click the down arrow next to "BIOS." Note the BIOS version number.

  • Click the "Download" button.

  • Choose the "Download via your Internet browser" option.

  • Save the BIOS update executable to your hard drive.

  • Close your Internet browser and all other running programs.

  • Remove any discs from their drives, then unplug any flash drives.

  • Double-click the BIOS executable you downloaded.

  • Click "Continue."

  • Click "OK" to begin the BIOS update.

  • Watch the screen as the computer reboots. If the flash was successful, the new BIOS version number will appear in the Dell splash screen when the system restarts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Flashing your BIOS is risky. Because the BIOS resides on a ROM chip, you don't actually "update" it because the chip is "Read Only." Rather, the flashing process completely erases the existing BIOS from the chip and writes the new version in its place. Thus, you must ensure that the process doesn't get interrupted once it begins. A failed BIOS flash can render a computer inoperable.

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