1 Copper

Possible corrupted BIOS

I apologize in advance for a semi long post.

I have a Dell E520 just over 3 yrs old. System was up and running, screen saver was active and when I moved my mouse to "wake" it, the screen froze. 

I attempted to restart the system and all I had was a black screen.  I checked out my monitor, hard drive, and figured maybe the power supply was dying. I had already replaced the 3V battery about a year ago and had no symptoms it was bad. 

I replace the power supply... no change. I reseated the memory (2- 512 cards and 2 1G cards) no change. I reseated the graphics card, nothing. When through various Dell wizards and at that time my LED code was 1,3,4.

Now, what i did, I don't know, but now, I get the initial DELL screen with stripes and the BIOS loading/reading page with letters substituted and making no sense. For instance, the screen will say press G1 instead of F1, Intem for Intel, along with a screen full of exclamation marks.

I can access the BIOS setup page via F2,I can once in a while get to a page about running system diagnostics, and once managed to get to safe mode.  I have done a checkdsk on the hard drive...I also put the drive into my 2ndary system and I can access everything as far as files etc.

I also ran a virus scan on it and it did have 2 trojans. my fault b/c my subscription had expired, but I also ran Housecall on my system about once a week to chec it out until we were able to renew, which it is.

So brings me to now, my LED code now says 1,2,3 followed by 2 beeps.

I suspect I contracted a BIOS virus and that the BIOS is now corrupt. I found the file I need to download for the BIOS from Dell, which I thought I could download onto CD and attempt to load into my infected computer. BUT, when I attempt to download, it never gives me the option to save. I just says, verifying and then goes to INSTALL or DON'T INSTALL.  I certainly don't want to download that BIOS onto my "good" system, so is there and solution to my mess?

I also thought that if I could get into safe mode I could download that directly from DELL, but I'm even sure I could do that from safe mode.

BTW, I have Vista on my system and use FIREFOX as my browser.

Is there a ray of hope here?  Thanks in advance for any support or wisdom you could share.







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2 Replies
6 Indium

Re: Possible corrupted BIOS

Because it works or partially works sometimes, I don't suspect the BIOS is the problem or not the main problem.  You can reset the BIOS and see if that makes any difference.  With the PC powered off, remove the CR2032 battery for at least 10 minutes.  Reinstall the battery and power on and see if anything has changed (and if lucky for the better).   However if the BIOS is corrupted with a virus, on a Dell if the BIOS is corrupted the only option is to replace the motherboard. 

Also, disconnect the hard drive, CD/DVD drive(s) and power on and see if that makes any difference.  Obviously it won't boot but you should get the initial Dell screen and even able to press F2 and enter the BIOS.

Lights 123 are "other failure" in the Dell listing.  The manual does not list the beep codes.  I looked at the manual for my E510 and it doesn't list them either. 


I am not a Dell Employee

Dell forum member since 2002

Dell Inspiron 15 - 5577 Laptop

Home Built Desktop PC with ASUS ROG Z170, i7 6700K CPU

Windows 10 64 bit Pro and Windows 10 Insider Program Beta Versions. SSD drives. Cakewalk by BandLab and Studio One 4.1 Recordng Studio Software.

Dell S2719dgf Monitor

Member of Nashville based R.O.P.E.

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1 Copper

Re: Possible corrupted BIOS

I tried the battery as you suggested for about 15 minutes nothing changed...ditto on the hard drive & cd/dvd  suggestion. The screen did come up and I could enter F2 and reach the BIOS, but that is all I've been able to do repeatedly. Any other suggestions?

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