How to Recover the BIOS on a Dell Computer or Tablet

How to Recover the BIOS on a Dell Computer or Tablet



The following article provides information about the BIOS recovery capability available on select Dell computers or tablets. This BIOS feature helps recover the computer from a corrupted BIOS, and attempt a recovery of the computer from a Power On Self-Test (POST) or a boot issue.


Table of Contents:

  1. What is a BIOS Recovery tool?
  2. How do I start BIOS recovery on a Dell system?
  3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a BIOS Recovery tool?

The BIOS Recovery tool is designed to recover a corrupted BIOS (this often displays as a POST or boot issue). They are based on Boot Block Technology. The BIOS recovery 2 software's main feature is to provide the flexibility to recover a corrupted BIOS using a BIOS recovery file from the computer's primary hard disk drive or an external USB key. While the BIOS recovery 3 software adds a system start-up check, that can be enabled in the BIOS to add an auto-recovery capability to the BIOS recovery process.

How to recover from booting issues using the BIOS Recovery Tool (03:49) English Only

A corrupt BIOS is one of the possible causes of a computer unable to complete POST or boot into the operating system. If the Dell computer or tablet supports BIOS recovery 2 or 3, you can recover the corrupt BIOS by using the recovery method that is detailed below for your Dell computer or tablet.

Note: BIOS recovery is not supported on all Dell computers. Refer to the FAQ section for a detailed list of Dell computers and tablets that support the BIOS recovery.

While BIOS recovery 2 and 3 is supported on Dell desktops, all-in-one computers, laptops, convertible and detachable computers like Dell XPS 12 and Dell tablets. There are different methods to initiate a BIOS recovery on these devices. Methods to start off BIOS recovery includes:

  • Key sequence
  • Button sequence

BIOS recovery 2:

  • Supports recovery from your systems primary hard drive and from an external USB key
  • Recovery from your systems primary hard drive is enabled by default within the BIOS Setup. (It can be disabled if you choose, but this is not recommended.)
  • Recovery from the external USB key cannot be disabled in the BIOS Setup. (Its default enabled.)
  • The default search location for the BIOS Recovery image is the external USB key, should a key be present. If an image is not found on the key or the key is absent, the BIOS then searches your primary hard drive for the recovery image. The search terminates if no image is found, see the FAQ section.
  • The FAQ section answers questions regarding issues that you may encounter during an unsuccessful BIOS recovery.
Note:
  • BIOS recovery 2 can be initialized using an embedded keyboard on laptops and does not support external keyboard for laptops.
  • BIOS recovery 2 can be initialized on desktops using the standard USB keyboard. Bluetooth keyboard works if BIOS has POST support for system-specific Bluetooth keyboards. (However Bluetooth keyboards are not recommended for use when attempting BIOS recovery.)
  • BIOS recovery can be initialized on tablets using the physical buttons available on the tablet.
  • BIOS recovery can be initialized on convertible or detachable computers from both external keyboard or physical buttons available on the computer.
  • BIOS recovery cannot be initialized using the touchscreen of the device.

BIOS recovery 3:

  • BIOS recovery 3 is an improvement on BIOS recovery 2. It has all the same features, but we have added a feature that allows for auto-recovery to start during boot if an integrity check that has to be enabled in the BIOS (Default is Disabled) fails and there is a recovery image on the HDD. (Auto-recovery is not possible from other media now.)
BIOS Recovery via HDD BIOS Auto-Recovery on Boot Result
Enabled Enabled BR2 from HDD or USB and BR3 on Boot
Enabled Disabled BR2 from HDD or USB only
Disabled N/A BR2 from USB only
Disabled N/A BR2 from USB only


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How do I start the BIOS recovery on a Dell system?

Note: While whichever operating system (OS) you have on your computer does not matter as this all happens outside of the OS, please check that your system type is compatible with this troubleshooting. You can find a table in the FAQ section below:

How do I initiate BIOS Recovery on a Dell desktop or all-in-one computer?

  1. Restart the computer.

  2. Press and hold the CTRL key + ESC key on the keyboard until the BIOS Recovery page appears.

  3. On the BIOS Recovery screen, select Reset NVRAM (if available) and press the Enter key. Select Disabled and press the Enter key to save the current BIOS settings.

  4. Select Recover BIOS and press the Enter key to start the recovery process.

    Note: Your Dell computer may restart a few times during the process of BIOS recovery.

The CTRL key + ESC key combination can be used to trigger BIOS Recovery on computers where an external keyboard is the primary input. This applies to desktops, all-in-one and portable all-in-one computers. The supported keyboard types on these devices are:

  • PS/2 keyboard
  • USB keyboard
  • Bluetooth keyboard - If BIOS has POST support for system-specific Bluetooth keyboard (It is not recommended for this issue).

How do I initiate BIOS Recovery on a Dell laptop?

Before you begin the BIOS Recovery, ensure that the laptop's battery is charged up to at least 10%.

  1. Verify that the laptop is powered OFF and disconnect the AC adapter.

  2. Press and hold the CTRL key + ESC key on the keyboard.

  3. Plug in the AC adapter to the laptop.

  4. Release the CTRL key + ESC key on the keyboard once you see the BIOS recovery screen.

  5. On the BIOS Recovery screen, select Reset NVRAM(if available) and press the Enter key. Select Disabled and press the Enter key to save the current BIOS settings.

  6. Select Recover BIOS and press the Enter key to start the recovery process.

    Note: Your Dell computer may restart a few times during the process of BIOS recovery.
Note: This works slightly differently for Alienware Notebooks. Follow the steps below instead.
  1. Shut the computer down, and remove the AC adapter cable

  2. Press and hold the CTRL and ESC keys together while carrying out the next steps

  3. Connect the AC Adapter cable, and press the computer's power button

  4. Release the CTRL and ESC keys when the power button LED is lit

  5. Select option Recover BIOS and wait until it finishes

How do I initiate BIOS Recovery on a Dell tablet?

Before you begin the BIOS Recovery, ensure that the tablet's battery is charged up to at least 50%.

  1. Verify that the tablet is powered OFF and disconnect the AC adapter.

  2. Press and hold down the Volume down button.

  3. Plug in the AC adapter to the tablet.

  4. Release the Volume down button.

  5. On the BIOS Recovery screen, select Reset NVRAM (if available) and press Enter. Select Disabled and press Enter to save the current BIOS settings.

  6. Select Recover BIOS and press Enter to start the recovery process.

    Note: Your Dell tablet may restart a few times during the process of BIOS recovery.

How do I initiate BIOS Recovery on a convertible or detachable Dell computer?

Convertible and detachable Dell computers support both the following methods where touch is the primary input.

Method 1: Key sequence

  1. Verify that the device is powered OFF and disconnect the AC adapter.

  2. Press and hold the CTRL key + ESC key on the keyboard.

  3. Plug in the AC adapter to the device.

  4. Release the CTRL key + ESC key on the keyboard.

  5. On the BIOS Recovery screen, select Reset NVRAM (if available) and press the Enter key. Select Disabled and press the Enter key wish to save the current BIOS settings.

  6. Select Recover BIOS and press the Enter key to start the recovery process.

    Note: Your Dell computer may restart a few times during the process of BIOS recovery.

Method 2: Button sequence

  1. Verify that the tablet is powered OFF and disconnect the AC adapter.

  2. Press and hold down the Volume down button.

  3. Plug in the AC adapter to the tablet.

  4. Release the Volume down button.

  5. On the BIOS Recovery screen, select Reset NVRAM (if available) and press Enter. Select Disabled and press Enter to save the current BIOS settings.

  6. Select Recover BIOS and press Enter to start the recovery process.

    Note: Your Dell computer may restart a few times during the process of BIOS recovery.
Note: BIOS Recovery cannot be triggered using the touchscreen of the convertible or detachable Dell computer.


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Frequently asked questions

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Note: Click the title of the section you want to open below, in order to see the contents.

The following table takes you through how to identify the version of BIOS Recovery your Dell Tablet or computer that is shipped with:

BIOS Recovery 1
If your system shipped before December 2015 and is listed below, then it supports BIOS Recovery 1.
Alienware Inspiron Vostro Latitude OptiPlex Precision Tablet XPS
Alienware X51 R3 Inspiron 3059 All-in-one Vostro 3250 / 3650 / 3653 Latitude 3470 / 3570 OptiPlex 3040 Precision Mobile 3510 Venue 10 Pro 5056 XPS 12 9250
Alienware Echo 13 R2 Inspiron 3459 All-in-one Vostro 5450 All-in-one Latitude 3640 / 3560 OptiPlex 3240 Precision Mobile 5510 Venue 8 Pro 5855 XPS 13 9350
Alienware Echo 15 R2 Inspiron 5459 All-in-one Vostro 3459 / 3559 Latitude 5175 / 5179 OptiPlex 5040 Precision Mobile 7510 / 7710 XPS 15 9550
Alienware Echo 17 R3 Inspiron 7459 All-in-one Vostro 5459 Latitude 7370 OptiPlex 7040 Precision Workstation 3420 XPS 8900
Inspiron 3158 / 3153 Latitude E5270 OptiPlex 7440 Precision Workstation 3620
Inspiron 3250 / 3153 Latitude E5470
Inspiron 3459 / 3559 Latitude E5570
Inspiron 5457 / 5557
Inspiron 5459 / 5559 / 5759
Inspiron 7359 / 7353
Inspiron 7559
Inspiron 7568
BIOS Recovery 2
Any system that is shipped after December 2015 that has the Intel SkyLake Chipset
BIOS Recovery 3
Any system that is shipped after August 2016 or with the Intel Kaby Lake Chipset
Note: Further revisions containing more enhancements to these recovery options are expected to come as the technology improves.

If your system is in a working condition, follow these steps to identify if your Dell computer supports BIOS recovery:

  1. Restart the computer.

  2. Press the F2 key on the keyboard several times until the computer enters the BIOS setup.

  3. If you find the option BIOS Recovery from Hard Drive in the BIOS setup, your Dell computer supports BIOS recovery 2.

  4. If BIOS Recovery from HDD is enabled and there is a BIOS Auto-Recovery field settable in the BIOS setup, your Dell computer supports BIOS recovery 3.

If your system is NOT in a working condition, check if it matches one of the systems in the table in the drawer above or if it was manufactured after December 2015 and has the Intel Skylake chipset. If so, your system should support the BIOS recovery 2 feature and BIOS recovery may be attempted.

If your system is NOT in a working condition, check if it matches one of the systems in the table in the drawer above or if it was manufactured after August 2016 or has the Intel Kaby Lake chipset. If so, your system should support the BIOS recovery 3 feature and BIOS recovery may be attempted.

Note: There could be slight variation in description of the option between different types of BIOS that are implemented on Dell computers. The presence of BIOS Recovery from Hard Drive in the BIOS setup identifies that the Dell computer supports BIOS recovery.

Auto-Recovery is only possible in systems that support BIOS Recovery 3. Systems do not ship with Auto-Recovery enabled. Follow the instructions below if you want to enable this feature.

Note:
  • Auto-Recovery is only available on BIOS Recovery from HDD.
    • Auto Recovery is not available on BIOS Recovery from USB Key.
      • Auto-Recovery does not search for a Recovery Image from the USB key.
    • Auto-Recovery is disabled if BIOS Recovery from HDD is disabled.
      • Auto-Recovery only searches for a Recovery Image from HDD.
  1. Restart the computer.

  2. Press the F2 key on the keyboard several times until the computer enters the BIOS setup.

  3. Look for the group Maintenance and the page BIOS Recovery in the BIOS setup.

  4. Identify the BIOS Recovery from HDD field which should be enabled. (If it is not enabled, set it to enabled.)

  5. Change the BIOS Auto-Recovery field from the default which is disabled to enabled.

  6. Identify the Always perform Integrity check field and change from the default which is disabled to enabled.

With this option configured the BIOS recovery will automatically recover the BIOS without your intervention if something happens during the system starting up.

  1. For those systems that support BIOS recovery, the BIOS Recovery file will already be on the systems Hard Drive (HDD) in the ESP/EFI Partition.

  2. If the BIOS Recovery file is NOT found on the HDD, it could be that:

    1. Your HDD has been replaced since it left the factory

    2. You have changed your BIOS from UEFI to Legacy boot

    3. You have reimaged your system since receiving it from the factory

    4. You have reinstalled the system with a new operating system and formatted the HDD

  3. If your system is in a working state, you can add the BIOS Recovery file back to the HDD, by reflashing the BIOS. (Even if you are putting the same revision back on, that it is currently flashed to.) Remember that for this to work the BIOS has to be set to UEFI and the operating system must be at least Windows 7 64 bit or a more recent revision.

  4. If your system is NOT in a working state, for example, a No Post/No Boot situation and the BIOS Recovery file is not on your HDD - It obviously will not be possible to attempt to flash the BIOS to add the BIOS Recovery file to the HDD. Fortunately, even in this condition, it is possible to use a recovery file on an external USB key. If you have a Dell BIOS on your system you can follow the instructions below, however, if your BIOS is supplied by another manufacturer then you must contact Dell Support to get a copy of its recovery file. (You can identify a Dell BIOS as the touchpad or mouse pointer still works and the information is in a tree format down the left-hand side of the screen. A BIOS supplied by another manufacturer tends to be a menu bar along the top of the screen that you navigate using the keyboard.)

    1. To get the Recovery file for a Dell BIOS simply use the service tag number for your system and download the BIOS.exe file from the Dell Support Pages. You can use another system to download this file, but ensure you use the service tag of the affected computer.

    2. Save the BIOS.exe file to your desktop

    3. Rename the file to BIOS_IMG.rcv changing the filename and file extension

      1. If you cannot see the file extension, then go to the Windows Start icon and type in Folder Options

      2. Click View and uncheck the HIDE EXTENSIONS FOR KNOWN FILE TYPES and click OK

      3. Right-click on the file saved on the desktop, the extension for the file .exe can now be seen and changed

To create an external USB key to perform BIOS recovery, you need the following:

  • A working computer
  • An empty USB key
  • Download the latest BIOS for your computer or tablet from the Dell Drivers and downloads website.
Warning: All data on the USB key will be erased. Ensure that you save the files and folders from the USB key before proceeding to create a USB recovery key.

Creating the USB key:

  1. Plug the USB key into the computer.

  2. Press the Windows key + E to open File Explorer (also known as Windows Explorer).

  3. Right-click on the USB drive and click Format.

  4. Change the File system to FAT32.

  5. Check the box next to Quick Format.

  6. Click Start to being formatting the USB key.

  7. Copy the BIOS file to the USB key.

  8. Open Command prompt in administrator mode.

    • In Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 - Press the Windows key + X on the keyboard to open a power user menu and select Command Prompt (Admin)

    • In Windows 7 or Windows Vista - Click the Start button and type command prompt in the search box. Right-click cmd in the search results and select Run as administrator.

  9. In the command prompt window, type cd x: and press the Enter key, where 'x' is the drive letter of the USB key.

    You can find the drive letter of the USB key in File Explorer (also known as Windows Explorer)

  10. Type dir and press the Enter key on the keyboard. You should see the name of the downloaded BIOS file.

  11. Type ren xxxxx.exe BIOS_IMG.rcv and press the Enter key.

    (Replace the xxxxx with the name of the downloaded BIOS file.)

    Note: Please include the space between xxxxx.exe and BIOS_IMG.rcv.
Note: The Recovery from a USB key method is recommended as the best option for Alienware and XPS owners. Those who are experiencing a 3,6 or 3,7 LED blink No POST error on startup on their Alienware R5/R6/R7/R8 or XPS 8910/8920/8930 systems can find "step by step" troubleshooting instructions on the following article:

Some Dell computers and tablets have an option to keep the BIOS settings before starting the recovery process. If this option is seen after starting off the BIOS recovery 2 feature, and you want to keep the current BIOS settings - Select the option that disables the NVRAM reset.

Warning: The default setting for Reset NVRAM is set to Enabled. This clears all BIOS settings. Certain Dell computers or tablets may not have the feature to Reset NVRAM.

The default search location for the BIOS recovery image is on an external USB key (if present). If a USB key is not present, the recovery image on the primary hard disk drive will be utilized.

Note: If the recovery image is not available on the primary hard disk drive, or the affected system is experiencing a No POST/No Boot issue, then creating a USB recovery key is the only option.

Once a Hard Drive is replaced, to reinstate BIOS Recovery capability on computers that shipped with this capability, the following needs to occur.

  1. The BIOS needs to be set to UEFI, NOT Legacy Boot

  2. The Operating System needs to be reinstalled and will need to be Windows 7 64 bit or a more recent revision of the Windows Operating System.

  3. The BIOS will need to be flashed again to the latest revision available, even if it already is at the latest revision. (This creates the Recovery File within the EFI partition.)

Note: Some older Dell computers may not support BIOS recovery, even with the latest version of BIOS.

BIOS recovery 2 and 3 is not supported from an encrypted hard disk drive or if the hard disk drive is password that is enabled in the BIOS. BIOS recovery setup attempts to search for the recovery image on the hard disk drive but eventually will fail.
If you can enter the BIOS setup, you can try to disable the hard disk drive password and try recovering the BIOS.

To reinstate BIOS Recovery capability on computers that shipped with this capability, carry out the following steps:

  1. The BIOS needs to be set to UEFI, NOT Legacy Boot

  2. The Operating System needs to be reinstalled and will need to be Windows 7 64 bit or a more recent revision of the Windows Operating System.

  3. The BIOS will need to be flashed again to the latest revision available, even if it already is at the latest revision. (This creates the Recovery File within the EFI partition.)

Note: Some older Dell computers may not support BIOS recovery, even with the latest version of BIOS installed on the computer.

BIOS recovery utilizes indications via beeps or LEDs if there are any errors during the recovery process. If you hear any beeps or see LEDs blinking in a pattern during the BIOS recovery process, try the following steps:

  1. Shut down the Dell computer or tablet.

  2. Initiate the BIOS recovery process again.

  3. If you are still hearing the beeps or see the LEDs blinking in a pattern, try creating a USB recovery key instead.

  4. If you are still unable to complete the recovery process, contact Dell Technical Support.


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Article ID: SLN300716

Last Date Modified: 03/03/2020 06:44 AM


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