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Introduction to the BIOS Setup Program

Introduction to the BIOS Setup Program

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Introduction to the BIOS setup program

Visit Page 2 of this article if you are only looking for information on reflashing the BIOS to update it. The BIOS setup program - an acronym for Basic Input/Output System - is a currently vital part of a PC's system, without which nothing can work. However, it will soon be replaced by a mouse-driven Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI). The BIOS configures the PC's hardware so that the operating system (Windows, Linux, OS X, etc.) can recognise all of it and install the appropriate software device drivers. The program itself is stored in a CMOS flash memory chip on the motherboard and it can be upgraded by reflashing the memory chip with the update according to predetermined procedures. Customised settings are maintained by having the chip powered by a CMOS/BIOS battery. If the battery runs down, the system reverts to using the default BIOS settings every time the PC boots. For how much longer the BIOS setup program will be used for this purpose remains to be seen, because in Apple Macs the operating system, OS X, performs that function, and some of the leading players in the PC market, namely Microsoft and Intel are working together on a replacement for the BIOS called the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), which is a mini operating system that supports a high-resolution full-colour graphical interface that allows various tasks to be run before the main operating system boots, such as basic multimedia operations, scanning for viruses, and the use of diagnostic tools. In any case, even with the existing PC BIOS, the operating system (Windows 7, Linux, etc.) has assumed many of the functions that used to be be performed by the BIOS.
Change to 'Bios' will make for PCs that boot in seconds A replacement for the system BIOS setup program, known as the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), will used in new desktop and laptop PCs by 2011, making for much faster startup times and less hardware compatibility issues with new hardware components. - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11430069 Say Goodbye To Your BIOS: Hello, UEFI! : On the Verge Of UEFI http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/intel-uefi-firmware,review-31766.html December 4, 2010. - The motherboard manufacturer, Asus, has revealed its next-generation P8P67 motherboards for Intel's next range of processors, code-named Sandy Bridge, that use the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) instead of a BIOS. The EFI is much easier to use and update, with mouse control, slide-bars and drag-and-drop. For example, the user can drag-and-drop icons of the devices to set them as the first-boot device and overclocking can be achieved by using a series of sliders. It supports new technology that is beyond the BIOS, such as the ultra-largecapacity Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB hard disk drives. A BIOS, due to its technical limitations, can't support a hard-drive capacity larger than 2.2TB, but the EFI can support drives up to 9.4ZB (ZB = zettabyte, which is a 1 followed by 21 zeros - a truly immense figure). The new range of Asus motherboards are expected to be released early in 2011. For more information on this topic read this Q&A on this website: Can an ultra-large-capacity 3.0TB hard disk drive be used with Windows XP?

The BIOS setup program performs four distinct tasks: 1. - Tests the computer's main components by running its POST (Power-On-Self-Test) program to make sure that they are all functioning properly. 2. - Configures the main components that are part of the motherboard or that are attached to it so that the operating system knows what to do with them. The configuration role was essential to the operation of a computer, but it is decreasing all the time as the operating system continues to take over more and more of this role. 3. - Boots the operating system from the primary hard disk drive or from a bootable floppy disk or a CD/DVD disc at start-up. Note that the floppy disk drive or CD/DVD drive has to be set as the first boot device in the BIOS in order to make the system boot from a floppy disk or CD/DVD. The settings for this vary from one make of BIOS to another, but you should be able to locate the appropriate setting by going through the BIOS menu. (Information on how to enter the BIOS is provided further down this page.) For example, in a Phoenix Award BIOS, in the Advanced BIOS Features section, you might see settings for First Boot Device, Second Boot Device, Third Boot Device, etc. You will be able to set a floppy disk drive, CD/DVD, or hard disk drive, etc., as the first boot device. Some BIOSes allow you to set a USB flash drive or external hard disk drive as the first boot device. If the first boot device contains no boot files, the BIOS uses the next boot device until it finds one that it can boot from. For example if the CD/DVD drive is set as the first boot device and there is no boot CD/DVD disc in the drive, the BIOS will try to boot from the second boot device. The image below shows how the settings appear in a particular BIOS.

4. - Provides access to some of the computer's components and features, such as the keyboard even when the operating system is up and running. The BIOS is programmed to run a small routine that handles the keyboard at the behest of the operating system. In this way, the BIOS code provides a uniform interface to the system in order that variable hardware can function without having to make the necessary changes to the operating system when the type of hardware changes. Windows 2000, Windows XP , Windows Vista and Windows 7 only make a small number of such calls to the BIOS, but the Linux operating system makes no such calls while it is running, because it deals directly with the standard hardware it is likely to encounter, and it uses device-driver software to deal with any non-standard or special hardware it encounters. Moreover, work is under way to create a version of Linux that boots without a BIOS.

] The PC's motherboard manufacturer should be the only source that you should use to find BIOS updates and instructionson how to install them. an update is not available. BIOS files included.Features can be added by programming them into the BIOS code. If you need the latest BIOS update for your desktop or laptop computer but can't find one on the computer's manufacturer's or its motherboard manufacturer's website. which have nothing to do with the operating system and control the screen's brightness. Dell uses the F1 key. which is pressed before Windows starts to load to bring up the BIOS setup program.The BIOS can be updated to remove bugs or support additional hardware by reflashing it. you should be able to download all of the available updates. For instance.95 to join. [Note that AMD-processor-based Socket 939 motherboards are no longer being sold new.5. free of charge from their manufacturers' websites or via Microsoft Update. it costs $29. The standard startup screen (shown in images lower down in this article) and the startup screen showing the logo of the computer's manufacturer should provide the instruction on how to enter the BIOS or Setup. Most manufacturers use the Del key. many laptop/notebook computers have special function keys that are not found on standard desktop computer keyboards. a BIOS update is required. the volume of the sound.Visit Page 2 of this article for more information on reflashing the BIOS to update it. The downside is that despite the free scan and report. . etc. The major motherboard manufacturers update the BIOS for their motherboards regularly. It also looks for and can download updates for the other software and hardware on the computer. contrast. which the motherboard supports. so make sure that you really need it before parting wit yur money. "The official BIOS and update support center for Phoenix-Award and AMI BIOS" is a good place to start.The version of the BIOS is shown on the standard startup screen or within the BIOS setup program itself. If you cannot locate a higher version number that the existing version. If the user wants to use a dual-core Socket 939 model. BIOS Updates. . Socket AM3 is AMD's current processor socket. An good example in which installing an update is necessary is when a Socket 939 motherboard that runs AMD's Athlon 64 processors has a BIOS that supports only the single-core version of those processors. In my experience. .

. The following article (July 2010) reviews three Socket 1366 motherboards that run the Intel processors that use that socket type. If your PC has a floppy disk drive. with USB printers. Any customised settings in the BIOS are retained when the PC is switched off because a CMOS battery keeps the CMOS chip that contains the data powered up. The Item Help section of each page provides information on the setting that is selected. (PnP stands for Plug and Play. Click on those images to view the large versions. But if that happens after you've changed settings. which most users now have. and other pages in the BIOS.uk/. you cannot do that. You shouldn't attempt to change the BIOS settings unless you know what you're doing. because the wrong settings can prevent the system from booting. You have to do that to record what is on the pages because the print screen (operated via the Prt Sc key) option doesn't function until the operating system is loaded.one that uses the old (legacy) Centronics or LPT1 parallel port interface) . (which starts up first in Windows 95/98/Me.co.that option could work. but is absent in Windows XP) or Windows has loaded. If you are using a non-USB printer .) Every motherboard in a Windows desktop and laptop PC has a BIOS. and enable the system to boot. often with parameters.The PnP/PCI Configurations page of an Phoenix Award BIOS is shown above. which most new PCs no longer have. or disabled.. the following article provides information on how to back up the BIOS settings to a floppy disk. it was possible to use the Prt Sc key to make the printer print what was on the PC's screen. When printers were primitive and had to have their own processing unit in order to work. shown above. Load Fail-Safe Defaults and Load Optimised Defaults.tomshardware. you can use a digital camera to take photos of every page in the BIOS so that you can refer to them if you want to revert to a particular range of settings. The settings are either enabled. both of which should remove any settings the user has enabled or disabled. BIOS tip: Saving or backing up the BIOS settings If you have spent a lot of time to customise the BIOS settings for your PC or you want to experiment to find out what the best settings are. The PnP/PCI Configurations. The keyboard has to be used because the mouse driver hasn't been loaded when the user enters the BIOS setup program. so you can't transfer a captured image to a Windows program. The browse menu appears on the bottom of the page. However. The image below shows a Sony CR2032 CMOS battery installed in a socket on an ATX motherboard. . or set one of the default options that have names such as. Images of the pages of the BIOS showing the settings on each page are provided for each of the motherboards. are reached from the main menu page. X58 To The Max: Three New Flagship LGA 1366 [Intel-based] Motherboards http://www. examples of which are shown further down this page. you can always enter the BIOS at start-up and change the settings back to what they were. because neither DOS.

' Only the first boot screen appears. The Reset Configuration Data BIOS setting Resetting the BIOS itself (dealt with further along in this article) so that the entire BIOS is reset must not be confused with its Reset Configuration Data setting (shown in the second image from the top of the page) that resets its hardware configurations. it does receive a trickle charge when the computer is switched on. All of the existing hardware configuration data is erased and then replaced.http://www.hardwaresecrets. it discharges completely in a few weeks if the computer isn't used. which renders the PC that uses a motherboard in that state unable to retain customised settings.com/nero. which allows me to enter the BIOS. . which is switched on. However. Enter create a bootable cd in the Google search box at the top of this page (with its Web radio button enabled) to find many articles on how to do it." A CR2032 CMOS battery is not designed to be rechargeable. A user who unplugs the PC from the mains or switches the power off at the mains supply. Just open the BIOS and look for the boot order settings. the power supply provides power to the CMOS chip if the PC iitself is switched off but is attached to the mains supply. Most motherboard vendors and PC manufacturer's set the jumper in its enabled position when the motherboard or PC containing the motherboard is sold. that is. 'not supported. will shorten the life of the CMOS battery. Such a battery can last up to five years or more. You can save a file containing your BIOS backup on a recordable CD/DVD. This extends the life of the battery considerably if the computer is used regularly.bootdisk. A dead or disabled CMOS battery usually produces an invalid-settings or settings-lost message at startup. With ATX motherboards. to be able to go from being fully charged to being fully discharged and then recharged repeatedly. not a blank screen. otherwise the screen remains blank. That setting is enabled and the BIOS resets what the BIOS knows about all of the hardware components and peripheral devices (printers. You need to the disc bootable and and know how to make your computer boot from a CD/DVD in order to be able to make use of the backup. However. 87Hz. The motheboards are shipped from China with the CMOS jumper it its disconnected position to prevent the battery from discharging. etc.BIOS Backup . Here is one I found: http://www. The BIOS has to be set so that the first boot device is the CD/DVD drive in order for the system to be able to boot from a CD/DVD disc. The user would then have to enter the BIOS and enable and save its default or failsafe or optimal setting every time the PC starts up.) and then disables the option so that its isn't repeated with every system startup. because it keeps the CMOS BIOS chip powered up. giving a fresh start that can resolve many hardware misconfiguration problems.htm. motherboards can be sold with the jumper in its disabled position. The following problem is the type of problem that can be resolved by using the Reset Configuration Data setting in the BIOS: "I was changing the screen resolution on an older Intel Pentium III computer running Windows XP Pro when the screen went blank and said. However.com/article/41 You can find other such articles by entering the search tern bios backup in the Google search box at the top of this page (with its Web radio button enabled) to find many articles on how to do it.

This Q&A on this site deals with the problem that its title describes: Why is my computer running slow after I replaced a flat BIOS battery on the motherboard? The startup screen for a system running an American Megatrends (AMI) BIOS and an AMD Athlon 64 3200+ processor is shown below. Visit this page if you need to know what the entry methods used by all of the main brands of PC and the major BIOS developers are: http://michaelstevenstech. 1048576KB OK is 1GB of RAM that was found to be present and checked during the POST (Power-On-Self-Test) set of hardware tests that all computers initiate on starting up..com/bios_manufacturer. Some BIOS setup programs allow the logo to be temporarily disabled so that you can see the startup information by. you should be able to disable the logo in the BIOS itself.or any of its contents. for example. so DDR400 (PC3200) RAM) is installed. and pressing the F10 key runs the BIOS recovery utility.htm Pressing the F11 key brings up the Boot Menu. DEL: Setup: Pressing the DEL key enters the BIOS setup program. The different brand-name computer manufacturers and BIOS setup program developers use different key combinations to enter the BIOS. and you can't enter the BIOS because it has become corrupt. . Click here! to go to more information on Page 2 of this article on disabling a logo startup screen. DRAM Clock = 400MHz: The system's DRAM clock is shown as 400MHz. Note that if you see the logo of the motherboard's manufacturer or the developer of the BIOS instead of such a startup screen.. The standard startup screen of the kind shown below will then display. Note that if you see the term CMOS in relation to the BIOS. The figure in Checking NVRAM. which you would use if the computer won't boot past the start-up screen. pressing the Tab or Esc key during startup. This is the material that the BIOS chip is made of. this stands for complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor. or even mistakenly used as a term for the BIOS. it is not the chip itself .

You can find a replacement at any good computer shop. Nothing serious because those settings can be set manually from within the BIOS setup program itself. and show it to the salesman so that you are assured of being given the correct replacement. the fault will probably cause the checksum error to recur and wipe them out again.the BIOS will not be able to retain its settings. the BIOS chip may need to be reflashed. reprogrammed. A CMOS-based BIOS chip is a low-power device. and the default BIOS settings have been loaded instead of the user's customised BIOS settings.defaults loaded." This means that the BIOS settings have become corrupt. If the code fails to pass the checksum test. it uses a mathematical technique called the "checksum" to make sure the code it contains is sound. so I personally would replace the motherboard if the BIOS chip cannot be restored to working order. the BIOS reverts to using its built-in default settings.usually installed on the motherboard . but it still has to be supplied with power in order to retain its settings when the computer is switched off. so if you have saved the BIOS settings with a utility that can do so and you restore them. Here is an example ."CMOS checksum error . When the BIOS battery . A service available from sites such as FlashBIOS. But if the default settings are loaded. A replacement chip will probably cost almost as much or more than a new motherboard. error messages that the BIOS throws up typically use the term CMOS instead of BIOS. Incidentally. Note that whatever fault caused the BIOS to become corrupt will probably still be present. Therefore.org and BadFlash. The most common cause of this kind of error is a dead or dying BIOS battery. Take the old battery with you. the first diagnostic step to take to deal with a checksum error is to replace the battery. .loses enough of its charge . Most computers use a standard. which also provide replacement chips. but this is rare.usually when it is somewhere between three and five years old . and a checksum error will be reported. the battery also powers the system clock. but the system date and time may be incorrect.For instance. or the code will become corrupt and unusable. When the BIOS program runs. any customisation of the settings will be lost and will have to be reset. coin-shaped BIOS battery mounted on the motherboard. Just remove the old one carefully by inserting the flat head of small screwdriver in where the battery makes contact with its socket's metal connector. or used on your behalf by a professional. or replaced. The bright sparks that program BIOSes probably instinctively want to confuse things as much as possible in order to make what they do as mysterious and as inaccessible as possible. The BIOS setup program is the first component to start up when you switch a computer on. But the BIOS chip can be completely reprogramed with special EPROM-programming software that can be purchased an used. A bad system crash or electrical spike can corrupt the BIOS file. If a new battery doesn't solve the problem.com. The process of reflashing a BIOS chip is provided in this article. which is usually part of the BIOS chip circuitry. The default settings can often get the system going again.

in the Google search box at the top of this page. For Windows 9x versions of Windows. 2006. The user will have to re-enable any settings you prefer to the default ones. which in turn means that most BIOS programs no longer prevent writing to the BIOS flash memory by default.Security experts are warning that Rootkits . Doing that often fixes the problem. because Windows takes its time from the BIOS clock. which in turn means that such systems are vulnerable to being infected by a Rootkit that installs itself in the flash memory of the BIOS. and high-level languages to write the code in. You have widely available tools." Even if a computer's BIOS or a jumper on the motherboard itself is set to disable writing to the flash memory.will soon be hidden in the flash memory of the BIOS chip. a BIOS file update is usually flashed into the chip by making use of a floppy disk that contains the flash utility. To update the BIOS now involves running the downloaded software that obtains the update and sets the system to install it the next time the system is started. The configuration information. This is so easy to do. The BIOS chip on a computer's motherboard stores the system configuration information that is required to boot the system. The BIOS component in a computer stores the hardware configurations that are needed to configure the system at start-up so that its hardware (and thus its software) can run. . the user's customised settings will be deleted as soon as the CMOS chip loses its source of power. If the battery is removed. which could take several minutes. the processor's fan speed. . so most of the motherboard manufacturers have created software that is downloaded from their websites. However. BIOS NEWS Experts say that Rootkits will soon be installed in the flash memory of the BIOS January 29. free compilers for the ACPI language [used to program BIOS files]. A fast clock can be a nuisance if you use a PC with a TV tuner card and schedule it to record TV programmes. in readonly form on a ROM chip. The idea is to make the process as user-friendly as possible. had this to say on the subject: "It is going to be about one month before malware comes out to take advantage of this. MS DOS is not available in the Windows XP versions of Windows. a Rootkit expert and CEO of the reverse engineering company HBGary. You'll probably be presented with a large number of accessible links. try resetting the BIOS to its default settings. an insider could flash a computer's BIOS chip with such a Rootkit before leaving a company in order to be able to gain access to the corporate network at a later date. How to fix a fast Windows clock problem If the clock in Windows is fast.or any other BIOS term . is kept alive by a battery when the system is switched off.Also try entering the search phrase "BIOS checksum error" (including the quotation marks) .hidden software that Windows cannot detect that can be used to implement digital rights management technology or be used to hide viruses and Trojan backdoor server software . and the computer will start up with the default or failsafe settings. and the three MS DOS system files that make the disk bootable. Many modern BIOSes are also capable of monitoring motherboard activities such as the processor's temperature. the new BIOS file. Greg Hoglund. The BIOS has programming in it that manages the clock's operation. and the voltages. therefore reinstalling the operating system cannot remove a Rootkit installed in its flash memory.

used by Award and AMI BIOSes. There is much more information about reflashing a BIOS further down the page. a BIOS update may be required before a computer with a BIOS created to run on Windows 98 can be run on Windows XP. is usually a round one inserted into a holder on the motherboard. For instance. The string of numbers and letters shown under Press The Press DEL to enter SETUP in the bottom left-hand corner means that you have to press the Delete key to open the BIOS program. and the ALT-F2 to enter AWDFLASH means that you . The Memory Testing feature shows a running count to the amount of RAM used and detected by the BIOS as functional.288KB). which lasts at least five years. because it was released after the BIOS was created. such as a particular operating system. is the most commonly used one.The BIOS also supports software. The BIOS will have to be updated by reflashing it with a BIOS file programmed to recognise the new processor. it is 512MB (524. The BIOS has not recognised the system's AMD Athlon XP 2600+ (Main Processor). The BIOS setup program is accessed by pressing the key or keys shown (usually at the bottom of the screen) just after the memory count at start-up. or an external battery unit that is plugged into the motherboard. The four headings starting with Primary Master show which of the motherboard's IDE drive channels (used for hard disks or CD/DVD disk drives) have been enabled. In this case. The long-life battery. The Delete key ("Press DEL to enter SETUP"). See the image below of a start-up screen indicating at the top of the window that the system is configured by an Award BIOS.

and has been recognised by the BIOS.144KB (256MB) of RAM is installed. As you can see. you still use the Delete key to open it. the Secondary Master setting of which has been disabled. the BIOS belongs to an Asus P4T533 .8GHz) processor installed in the system has been recognised by the Award Medallion BIOS. DEL to enter SETUP can be used to identify the BIOS chip. or in the motherboard's user manual. and has a Maxtor 6L040JZ hard disk drive. Below is the much clearer start-up screen showing that the Pentium 4 2800MHz (2. The Memory test shows a count of 262. The BIOS update will have been obtained from the motherboard's website. This means that you can use this utility instead of a special (DOS) boot floppy disk to flash the BIOS. recognised by the BIOS as being installed as the Primary Master and Primary Slave devices on the Primary IDE channel. There are no drives installed on the Secondary IDE Channel. .can run the program that reflashes a BIOS update file into the BIOS chip by pressing the ALT and the F2 keys. Below is what appears on the screen at start-up for a computer running an AMI BIOS issued in 1998. The instructions on how to use it will be provided with the BIOS update file. which is used to reflash the BIOS chip with a new BIOS file. This means that you can use this utility instead of a special boot floppy disk to flash the BIOS. and so displays the word "Skip". and an Asus 52x CD-ROM drive (CD-S520/A ). With this BIOS. on the motherboard's website.C motherboard (Revision 1007). and the ALT-F2 keys are pressed to run the built-in EZ flash utility.

And below is the BIOS settings' menu that comes to the screen if the Del key is pressed before Windows. You have to reboot to enter the BIOS when the operating system is running. because it can only make changes to itself when nothing else is loaded. or an alternative operating system such as Linux. . starts up. Once the operating system has started loading. you cannot access the BIOS.

or Load BIOS Defaults instead of Load Fail-Safe Defaults and Load Optimised Defaults respectively. you would enable the Auto Configuration with Fail Safe Settings option. Award BIOSes have similar settings. but pre-year-2000 versions may use terms such as Load Setup Defaults. if you suspected that the BIOS settings were responsible for any problems. which uses similar headings to the AMI BIOS shown above. and which is also entered by pressing the Del key. and more detailed instructions appear on all of the main pages listed on the main menu page. As long as the start-up screen appears.Using this particular AMI BIOS. or even the Auto Configuration with Optimal Settings option. you have to navigate using the keyboard. because the driver for the mouse has not been loaded by the operating system. Below is the settings' menu of an Award BIOS from the year 2005. For this particular BIOS the important navigation options are: . As I said at the top of this page. you can always re-enter the BIOS to change the settings if they don't work or cause problems. The basic navigation instructions appear at the bottom of the main menu page.

the most popular version. scroll down to ASUS. say. When a BIOS file is updated. open the menu. A video-editing application is an example of memory-intensive software.5GB." The best way to choose RAM memory for a brand-name desktop or laptop computer.co. How to Use the Crucial Memory Advisor For example. read the RAM pages of this site. up to 4. which is twice the amount of minimum memory recommended to run Windows XP. The memory requirements of the versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 Most of the versions of Windows Vista require more RAM memory to run optimally on a computer that doesn't use memory-hungry applications than Windows XP. or which removes bugs from the installed version. It is just a matter of getting used to the differences between. I would rather pay the extra cost than waste time trying to track down the obscure program faults that bad memory can cause. and the navigation options may differ from one type of BIOS to another. Windows Vista and Windows 7). If. Look under FREE ."I have recently been buying my memory only from Crucial Technology. You will be taken to the relevant information on Crucial's website. The safest way to upgrade RAM memory: Use the UK and US Crucial Memory Advisors Paul Mullen. or memory for a paricular make/model of PC motherboard is to make use of the Crucial Memory Advisors (provided under the brief guideline on the minimum memory requirements for Windws XP. Windows Vista Home Premium. the names for the settings. you are guaranteed a refund and standard shipping is free.uk . and do likewise. here is a good free utility Belarc Advisor .0GB. Note that if you are using a 64-bit version of Windows. you have a Dell computer.The screens. and click GO. which can only use a maximum of about 3. it requires twice the amount of memory as a 32-bit version. but the content will be more or less the same. say. and Windows Vista Ultimate require a recommended minimum of 1GB (1024MB) of memory. if your computer has an Asus motherboard. which includes information on the lower memory requirements of Windows 7. or adds new features. it can be upgraded with a replacement file that provides support for new hardware. an Award BIOS and an AMI BIOS. If the Crucial memory you receive does not work. If you don't know the make and model of the motherboard installed in your computer. BIOS updates: Reflashing the BIOS BIOS software in the form of a file is flashed into permanent flash memory on the BIOS CMOS chip of a similar kind that is used in flash memory cards. Only Windows Vista Home Basic has a recommended minimum amount of memory of 512MB. For more information on computer memory. it is said to have been reflashed into the flash memory.that creates an analysis of the hardware and software on a personal computer. As such. which is the same amount recommended for Windows XP. who was the highly-respected computer guru of the Helpfile at ComputerShopper. Visit Page 2 of this article for information on reflashing the BIOS. Note that most motherboards now allow the user to restore a corrupt BIOS file from a USB flash drive that contains a backup or downloaded BIOS file. scroll down to DELL.

using ISA. because the manufacturer often uses the same video chip on high-end and low-end cards. Often new features can be added by updating a video card's BIOS. Another utility that also provides detailed information on the memory itself is CPU-Z. and it's the BIOS that limits the low-end card. Updates for the BIOS file can be made available for both the motherboard's system BIOS and the video card's BIOS from the motherboard manufacturer's and the video card manufacturer's sites respectively.http://www. Some motherboard's have BIOSes that are designed for overclocking. At start-up. Instructions on how to update the BIOS are usually also supplied. and PCI Express motherboard slots . But note that you cannot access the settings of the BIOS of a video card as you can access the settings of the motherboard's system BIOS by pressing the entry key(s) at start-up to run the BIOS setup program.cfm?articleID=1633 The BIOS and overclocking Click here! to visit the information on this site that deals with overclocking the processor. the main system BIOS detects the video BIOS and adds it to its start-up routine. If that is the case. Note well that you should know what you are doing before you experiment with overclocking a computer.belarc. graphics card. PCI. Advanced Guide: Flashing a Video Card BIOS http://www.com/. you might be able to see the video card being acknowledged by the system BIOS in the same way as it acknowledges the disk drive(s). The overclockability of a desktop or laptop PC's processor depends on the overclocking settings provided by the BIOS and on whether or not the processor is unlocked.and quad-core processors) has intelligent overclocking settings in its BIOS that allow the user to adjust the voltages of the .have a BIOS setup program that accesses a BIOS chip on the card in the same way as the system's BIOS setup program accesses the BIOS chip built into a computer's motherboard. The video/graphics card's BIOS setup program All video/graphics cards . AGP.DOWNLOAD . For Example. Updating a video card's BIOS can also sometimes solve problems that are otherwise insolvable. If you observe the start-up screen. doing nothing more than updating the BIOS can make a low-end card function like its high-end relative.pcstats. the Asus P5E64 WS Professional Socket LGA774 motherboard (for Intel dual.does not have its clock multiplier locked so that it can't be changed via the BIOS.com/articleview. etc.

the maker of the video card. I decided to buy and install a video card made by MSI with an nVidia 5900ZT chip.asus. MSI. but I have no idea why it did. The timings have names in the BIOS setup program such as AGP master wait state write. and it fixed all of the problems. A video-card problem problem caused by a buggy BIOS Problem I found out how easy it is to overlook the BIOS when attempting to diagnose the cause of a computer's problems. Windows 95/98/Me/XP all bypass both the video card's own BIOS and the motherboard's BIOS. but the blue screen of death and Microsoft's crash analysis both suggested a problem with the driver. but I soon discovered that the vivid colours of my screeensaver were no longer showing. and I had the latest DirectX 9. Can you enlighten me on the working of the BIOS in this case? Answer There is a very thin dividing (error) line between providing high performance and system stability with regard to high-end video cards.com. The the Asus P5E64 WS Professional motherboard is a good example of one that has been designed with overclocking in mind. the processor. and the RAM memory to achieve the most precise settings to match changes in the settings for the FSB and the clock multiplier. However. most problems with video cards come about because the driver writers don't get the trade-off right.0c installed. One or more of these timings can be the cause . provided the same suggestions. Deus Ex kept on crashing during the boot sequence. Indeed. These timings can often be tweaked in the BIOS itself. and followed the instructions that were included in the Zip file. MSI also provide good manuals for their motherboards. and the computer continually rebooted. obtained from nVidia's site. Eidos. Windows accesses the computer's hardware directly. It began when I downloaded and installed the latest driver file for my GeForce 2 video card.North Bridge chip. which are both applicable to an AGP video card of the kind you were using to begin with and use now. but not only did it not fix the screensaver problem. but it picks up the timings that are set in the BIOS when the computer first starts up. and reinstalling the game and video-card's driver file. the FSB. MSI motherboards usually have BIOSes that are restricted to the kind of basic settings the changing of which won't get the user into the kind of trouble that results in high support costs. but also advised me to reflash the BIOS with the latest file. The computer has an Asus A8V Deluxe motherboard. so I downloaded the latest BIOS file for the make and model of motherboard from the Asus site. Much also depends on the manner in which the video card interacts with the motherboard's chipset. the maker of the game. I did so in order to play Deus Ex 2. defragmenting the hard drive with the Windows Disk Defragmenter. It was a painless operation. told me to do the usual uninstalling of the game.tw/ if you want to see the BIOS settings that they provide. which requires pixel shading. It's an officially endorsed Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) driver file. and AGP bus read wait states. You can download the user manuals for Asus motherboards from http://www. The timings set in the BIOS for the motherboard's chipset are of crucial importance for trouble-free use.

reset the jumpers. a Sempron 3100+ 64-bit processor. it is recommended to have this setting enabled. it stopped. loading Windows 98 SE. an Antec 350 SmartPower power supply.EC. I followed the EZ Flash utility instructions from the manual. same result.000D stack dump. motherboard. I have tried 3 hard drives. I download a beta BIOS for the motherboard from the Asus website . and RAM. but the installation only gets to the format drive stage then hangs. and Windows 98 won't install on my PC The following problem was caused by a faulty BIOS: I have a problem with a PC I am building that has an Asus K8 NE Deluxe motherboard. If tweaking the timing settings is possible. a 20GB Maxtor PATA IDE hard drive. 2 floppy drives. In your case it did just that.the latest update. that read as follows: Standard mode bad fault in dos extender. fault. and bingo! When I restarted the system it went straight into a clean installation. However. I have another PC that I built with the same equipment. Raw fault frame. many hard disk drive diagnostic utilities that . Information on how to reflash a BIOS is provided on Page 2 of this article. and doing so doesn't solve the problem. one module of 512MB of PC3200 DDR RAM.) Therefore. If present. and I got the Windows screen followed by a stalled blue or black screen. the BIOS will flash a warning message whenever there's an attempt by a virus (or legitimate software) to access the system's boot sector or its partition table. not the entire hard disk drive. reflashing the BIOS with an updated file that has been reprogrammed can often do the trick. a floppy drive. alas. put it all back as was. but with an Athlon 64 3000+ processor and an SATA hard drive. 2 CD drives. Boot sector virus protection: Disable it before installing Windows 95 and Windows 98 When the Virus Warning setting (usually in the BIOS Features Setup menu) is enabled. removed the BIOS battery. This produced some progress. With the BIOS settings set to default. Note that this only protects the system's boot sector and its partition table. tye PC boots with the Windows XP OEM CD. A faulty BIOS problem: Windows XP. It does not start the format. loading Windows 2000 Pro. There was an error message that appeared onscreen.3004 IP 2443 CS=0053 FL3097 SP=00F2 SS004B. The man who had this problem discovered the cause of it himself: I decided to clear the CMOS. Windows 2000. with Windows 2000 Pro installed on it. I connected the SATA drive from this PC in the problem PC. Moreover. same result. and a DVD writer. note well that this feature will cause problems with the installation of certain software. This PC has worked really well from day one. then. For example.of a particular problem such as yours.036c 0000 0070. flashed the BIOS. the Windows installation did the format. I think during a Windows 98 installation. but it only got as far as the Windows 2000 Pro screen with the progress scale complete. this feature will cause the installation routine of Windows 95 and Windows 98 to fail. and another copy of XP Home Edition. disable it before installing such software. (It doesn't affect the installation routine of Windows XP. when enabled.

Always update the BIOS before making a major change of operating systems If you are planning to change your operating system from say Windows 98 SE to Windows XP ( a major change). The Virus Warning setting should be disabled before using such utilities. You can examine the allocation of the IRQs in the Device Manager. This BIOS setting is useless for hard disk drives that run from controllers on PCI adapter cards and other external controllers (such as SCSI controllers and UDMA 66 controllers) that have their own BIOS. . Boot sector viruses will bypass the system BIOS and write directly to such hard disk drives. See the Disk Drives page of this site for more information on UDMA (IDE ATA) and SCSI hard disk drives.x system. In a Windows 9. right-click My Computer => Properties (as in Windows 98). instead of the 23 that are available with this setting enabled. A large percentage of operating-system upgrade problems would be avoided just by reflashing the BIOS with the latest update file. and then click the Hardware tab followed by the Device Manager button. as is the case with Windows 9. The APIC mode BIOS setting APIC mode (Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller) is a BIOS setting made available to Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems that increases the number of IRQ (Interrupt Request) lines available to the processor. only 16 IRQs (0 to 15) are available to the processor. This reduces the amount of hardware that can be run on the system to the level of Windows 9. Computer Management is part of the much larger MS Management Console (MMC). and can therefore be the cause of unnecessary hardware conflicts. There are a number of ways to access IRQ information in Windows XP.x systems.x system you do that by double-clicking the Computer heading at the top of the window. To access the Device Manager via it go Start => Control Panel => Performance & Maintenance => Administrative Tools => Computer Management.access the boot sector can also trigger the error message. When APIC is disabled in a Windows 2000/XP system. To access the Device Manager in Windows XP. save yourself a lot of hassles by checking the motherboard/PC manufacturer's website for a BIOS update.

If you cannot obtain a BIOS update for the existing motherboard. And if you choose an Intel Pentium 4 (Socket 478) motherboard over an AMD (Socket A) motherboard. The extract below is from the user manual of the Asus A8N-E Socket 939 motherboard for AMD Athlon 64 processors. but Windows XP uses a totally different architecture. provide a BIOS that supports several different languages. and a new processor for that motherboard. It is not considered a major change to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista. you will almost certainly have to purchase new RAM. because that is not a major change. A talking BIOS Some motherboards are now offering a talking BIOS. Both versions of Windows 98 use the same architecture. because the architecture of both versions is similar. but if it doesn't work out. and other BIOS beep codes. you will be at least be able to reuse an ATX case if the existing power-supply unit meets the processor's power requirements. because the RAM and processor on the old motherboard won't be compatible with the new motherboard.) If not. And given how fast technology is changing. try making the changeover. Since the sound card is not available until DOS (with DOS sound card drivers loaded) or Windows have started up. which speaks its error messages. A multi-language BIOS Some new motherboards. such as those made by Asus. or dual-boot Windows 98 and Windows XP to experiment safely. See the Build a PC set of pages on this site for information on how to install a PSU .and all of the other components. because Pentium 4 motherboards require a special power-supply unit and special case mountings. Obviously this will only be of any benefit if the sound system it uses is working. it would have to make use of the small speaker built into the computer's case that issues the start-up beep.But you probably wouldn't have to take that action if you changed from Windows 98 to Windows 98 SE. you will also have to purchase a new case. they you will just have to install a new power-supply unit into the case. But if you choose an AMD solution. . you will probably have to install a new motherboard with a BIOS that supports Windows XP if you want to use it as the operating system. (Check AMD's website for recommended cases and PSUs.

users who want to flash their BIOSes.Place the name within double quotation marks in the Google search box provided at the top of this page to find links to sites that provide information on this motherboard.com/forum/showthread. On both sides of this text you can see many links to click on to access our reference lists and other material."BIOS Central is not for everyone. You are still welcome if you are a computer neophyte. and recovery tools and other utilities.sysopt. . entering the search phrase "bios beep codes" in the Google search box at the top of this page should produce many links to sites with beep-code information. You may learn some useful and interesting things here.bioscentral. developers or technicians who want to find or add POST code information. people who want to solve computer hardware or firmware problems. Obviously if the video card doesn't work for some reason. BIOS BEEP CODES Bioscentral. so most BIOSes issue a beep code to alert the user to an error in configuring the video card. or now even by issuing voice messages.com/ts/x/sys/beep/ List of BIOS beep codes [A forum "sticky". text messages.php?s=&threadid=146656 Should you need it.To name one. It is intended to be a technical reference home site for technicians and advanced computer users who troubleshoot computers using Power-On Self-Test cards or diagnostics." . There are many sites that provide the beep codes used by the two major BIOS manufacturers Award (now part of Phoenix) and AMI.com/ BIOS Beep Codes: http://www. Here are some sources. a text error message is of no use. plus comments]: http://www. the Supermicro 845G P4SGA motherboard is fitted with a talking BIOS.com .http://www. The beep codes The BIOS can provide error-alert messages to the user of the computer by using sounds (usually one or more long or short beeps provided by the speaker built into the computer's case).pcguide. test cards. and anyone who wants to submit or read a competent review on PC maintenance products like diagnostic software. .

. the following error message started presenting itself whenever I switch on my desktop PC: "CMOS checksum error . It's a freebie and easy to use. the settings are lost. I've used it and it works fine. After four or five years. it stops taking a charge and has to be replaced. so the computer has to load the default settings. but the clock shows 0. The zip file contains the program and instruction document. The chip also stores the customised BIOS settings. When I press F1.zip. so can anyone recommend a program that will save the settings so I can restore them after I replace the battery? Answer The flash utility that you use to reflash a BIOS can usually save the old BIOS file so that it can be restored if reflashing the BIOS causes a problem. the PC starts up as usual. Leaving the PC on for a day should recharge it.zip . Del to enter Setup". The image above this table shows a Sony BIOS battery installed in its socket on the motherboard. which are hard-coded into it so that they are always accessible to the startup process . the battery may still be working but may just have run down.http://www.drivermuseum. If you remove the battery in a mobile phone or it runs out of charge.00. The chip stores the BIOS settings in the same way that a mobile phone stores its settings. You can obtain it with the latest BIOS update for a make and model of motherboard from the motherboard manufacturer's site. recharging while the computer runs. the blue object in the centre of the image below that also shows the BIOS/CMOS battery in its container on the left of the jumper.even when the BIOS battery is flat.com/files/utils/system_u. Press F1 to continue. You could also take digital photos of each of the BIOS pages to save the optimal settings.html BIOS CMOS checksum error on startup Problem Three days ago.Defaults loaded.I need to replace the motherboard's BIOS battery. Most of the motherboards of desktop PCs have a jumper that clears the CMOS settings when it shorts two specific pins. and in the Control Panel's Date & Time. the date is always January 1 2003. The BIOS battery is rechargeable. but I don't want to have to reset my customised settings. try using cmosram2. Alternatively. If the PC hasn't been used for a few weeks or months. Answer It looks as if you have to replace the BIOS battery that powers the CMOS chip that contains the clock's settings. but I don't want to reset my customised/customized settings Question I need to replace my motherboard's BIOS battery. cmosram2.

The motherboard's manual shows the jumper's location on the motherboard. Brand new motherboards can have the jumper set to clear the BIOS in order not to run the battery down. If that jumper is left in the 'clear' position or is missing. This Q&A on this site deals with the problem that its title describes: Why is my computer running slow after I replaced a flat BIOS battery on the motherboard? Motherboard manufacturer's warning Note well: I came across the following warning in the motherboard manual for an MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI Socket 939 motherboard. I wasn't aware of the danger: "Caution.) The motherboard manufacturer's site should provide a manual for that model. Keeping the system running for a while should recharge it and allow you to customise the settings so that they remain every time the computer boots. The battery is charged while the computer is running. (There is a Google search box at the top of this page that searches the web when its Web radio button is enabled. and the system loads with the BIOS defaults settings. Click here! to visit an illustrated article on how to replace a BIOS (CMOS) battery. the computer will produce that checksum error message. Until then." Rechargeable CMOS/BIOS batteries Some new CMOS batteries are rechargeable and therefore shouldn't need to be replaced. Many people don't bother reading the manual and so are not made aware of that fact. Replace only with the same or equivalent type recommended by the manufacturer. The jumper is near the BIOS battery and is often labelled as such. if the computer hasn't been used for a while. . So. You can identify the motherboard's make/model with a utility such as CPU-Z and then locate its manufacturer's site with a search engine. The motherboard's manual would specify that the battery is rechargeable if it is. it would be because the CMOS battery has run down. such as Google. Danger of explosion if [BIOS] battery is incorrectly replaced.

and how to reset the BIOS password How to reset the BIOS In a desktop PC. etc. the jumper has to be placed over the two pins that allow power to go to the CMOS chip. If you want to reset the BIOS of a laptop PC. All of the existing hardware configuration data is erased and then replaced. there is almost always a Reset CMOS jumper on a motherboard that can be set to activate or clear the BIOS settings. However. which are permanently placed into flash memory when the BIOS's CMOS chip is flashed. The option to reset the entire BIOS itself to its default settings must not be confused with its Reset Configuration Data setting that resets the hardware configurations. It might be necessary to make use of the reset-BIOS feature if you have set incompatible BIOS settings that can render the computer unbootable . It is shown in the first image above. If you want to reset the BIOS of a laptop PC. is different in laptop PCs because of their highly-integrated designs which make accessing the motherboard so difficult that only trained technicians should attempt doing so. However.or something else has gone wrong with the settings. thereby removing them. When that setting is enabled. The reset jumper setting cuts the power from the CMOS battery to the CMOS chip that holds the BIOS settings. Note that some motherboard manufacturers have the Reset CMOS jumper set to disabled in order to disconnect the BIOS battery so that it doesn't run down during storage. it finds none (if the BIOS has been cleared) and it makes the BIOS copy the default settings from the flash memory into the RAM memory area that is usually kept alive by the BIOS battery.How to reset the BIOS itself. read the item at the end of this section on resetting the BIOS. not the main BIOS settings. giving a fresh start that can resolve many hardware misconfiguration problems. (The CMOS chip can be reflashed with an updated file. When the PC starts up and tries to access the BIOS settings. the BIOS resets not itself but what it knows about all of the hardware components and peripheral devices (printers.) and then it disables the option. Only the current BIOS settings that the computer has been using are cleared by using the reset-CMOS jumper setting. flash memory retains data without being powered.) Unlike the RAM memory that holds customised settings. To keep customised BIOS settings. . the situation of resetting the BIOS itself (not its configurations of components and devices) is different in laptop PCs because of their highly-integrated designs which make accessing the motherboard so difficult that only trained technicians should attempt doing so. read the item at the end of this section on resetting the BIOS. The BIOS settings are also cleared if the battery is disconnected for about five minutes.

tomshardware. The computer would boot if the CMOS jumper is set to clear the BIOS. but the default BIOS settings will be loaded and used every time the computer boots. If that is the case. It has a button on the motherboard next to the BIOS CMOS chip that you press to reset (clear) the BIOS so that it uses its default settings the next time the system is started up. you just have to press the button and the BIOS will revert to using its default settings. it may come with a secondary BIOS chip that plugs into the board and overrides the BIOS chip that is fitted to it.cally boot OS every time it is turned on. An example of such a motherboard is the ECS KA3 MVP. and those buttons are located. With the CMOS RAM.If this is the case. so now it includes a CMOS erase button on many of its motherboards. If you want to clear the system configuration. or you would have to reset any customised BIOS settings (you have enabled or disabled in preference to the default settings) every time the computer boots. The motherboard's manual will have diagrams that show where all of the different components. Press the button in the middle of the connector top side to clear the data.. Pressing a button on the motherboard or on its ports panel to clear the CMOS chip's BIOS settings The motherboard manufacturer MSI is familiar with the problems that are caused by overclocking. a Socket AM2 board that runs AMD Athlon 64. use the SW2 (Clear CMOS Button) to clear data. you just have to plug the secondary chip into its socket in order to recover the BIOS. 64 FX. Motherboards are available that support the new Socket LGA1366 Intel Core i7 quad-core processors that first became available in November 2008. Clear CMOS Button: SW2 There is a CMOS RAM [BIOS chip] on board that has a power supply from external battery to keep the system configuration data. Click here! to see an illustrated extract (on this website) on this subject from an MSI motherboard's manual. such as the K9N Platinum series. has a Clear CMOS Button on the motherboard's ports panel that shows at the back of the PC's case. Some motherboards provide a secondary plug-in BIOS chip If you have a very recent motherboard. having installed the motherboard. connectors. .. The following page provides illustrated information on how to reset the BIOS: http://www. If you have enabled settings that prevent the system from booting. and 64 FX X2 dual-core processors. Here is what it says in the manual of a K9N Platinum motherboard. the system can automati.com/reviews/. you would have to set the jumper setting to activate the BIOS. jumpers. The MSI MS-7522 motherboard of the company's X58 Platinum Series. to clear the CMOS chip that holds them.

The settings of each menu page are named. a brief description of the purpose of each setting is provided along with if it is the a default setting or one that can be enabled if the user chooses.org/wiki/CmosPwd BIOS settings and information provided by the motherboard's manual Note that the motherboard manual .com/vb/topic18780. and want to replace it with Windows XP Professional.How to reset the BIOS password If you've made use of the Set Supervisor Password and/or the Set User Password options and you forget the password(s). Is there any way onboard of re-setting the BIOS? Answer In a desktop PC. The information provided is usually brief and inadequate. .techspot. In fact. the computer's motherboard has a jumper setting that can be set to clear the password(s). ask Dell's technical support for information on how to do it. Instead. If you don't have a manual. or just want to disable having to enter one or both of them. If the information isn't provided in the PC's user manual.cgsecurity. http://www. you would consult its user manual of its motherboard to locate the jumpers the pins of which are used to activate or reset the BIOS.that comes with a new PC or can usually be downloaded from the motherboard manufacturer's website . but that can't be done easily with laptop PCs because of their highly integrated designs. make use of software that cracks the password. but the BIOS setup program is password-protected and the password is not mentioned anywhere in the documentation. You have to consult the motherboard's manual to find out how to set the jumper. CmosPwd decrypts the password stored in CMOS BIOS chip used to access the BIOS Setup Program. and read this thread for more information: Dell BIOS admin password removal .usually has a section in it devoted to the BIOS settings. it is advisable not to attempt to reset the BIOS of a laptop.htm How can I reset the password-protected BIOS in a Samsung R40Plus laptop PC? Question I have a Samsung R40Plus laptop PC running Vista Home Premium. identify the motherboard's manufacturer and download a copy from its website for that make and model of board.http://www. How to reset the BIOS password in a Dell desktop PC Apparently it is difficult to reset the administrator/supervisor password in the BIOS of a Dell PC.

Click here! to go directly to the BIOS-related sites listed on the first of the four Links pages on this site.0 memory stick . This will reassign the IRQs just once and then disable itself. For Award and AMI BIOSes.Wim's BIOS Page. because if you take the wrong BIOS upgrade your system could stop booting. Or you could make use of the Google search box provided at the top of this page to find them and many others. This is usually done by removing unused devices (such as one or both of the COM ports) and disabling them in the BIOS. To make a note of it. Since there are only 16 IRQ lines available. you really have to know the motherboard manufacturer. This is because the company name is not mentioned anywhere (in the manual. Using the BIOS ID number or free utilities to identify a motherboard "Many users don't know the name of their clone motherboard. Click here! to go directly to more hardware and software ID utilities on the second of the four Links pages on this site. This string of numbers and letters also appears briefly at the bottom left side of the screen at start-up. If you want to upgrade your BIOS.Inadequate BIOS information has resulted in numerous BIOS websites aimed at meeting the need for more detailed information. on the motherboard).x system. disable the PnP OS setting and enable the Reset Configuration Data setting. use the Pause key to freeze the screen. when adding a device you may run into an IRQ problem. Wim's BIOS Page has the information on how to decode BIOS ID numbers. you can enable the Reset Configuration Data setting. The computer assigns a device or collection of devices (IRQ sharing) an IRQ line so that each device can request attention from the processor. and then have to find a way to free an IRQ line for the device. If you are having IRQ assignment problems with a device and you want the BIOS to configure the devices instead of Windows as a way around the problem. and most of them are reserved. double-click the top Computer heading in your computer's Device Manager. "Luckily each Award or AMI BIOS has a unique BIOS ID (= BIOS Number) which identifies the manufacturer and chipset of the board. this ID number appears under the heading Chipset above.unrecognised device . Windows XP . If you want to view the 16 IRQ assignments in a Windows 9." . Luckily there are several excellent free utilities that you can download and run that identify a computer's hardware and software.USB 2. Note that should you experience difficulties with the IRQ assignments of the devices that appear in the Device Manager.

the stick works but very slowly. However.0 Enhanced Host Controller is present to show that USB 2. .0 memory stick. if possible.1 + USB 2.Problem You have purchased a USB 2.0 memory stick so that you can transfer files between several computers that run Windows XP without having to network them. when the stick is plugged into a computer running Windows XP Pro.1. flash it with the latest update. But when the settings in the BIOS setup program are changed from USB 1. You should disable any Legacy USB setting in the BIOS and.0 to just USB 1. These finger drives are naturally very slow devices. it reports an unrecognised device. Answer A USB 2. also known as a Flash Drive or Micro Vault.0 is installed. You have checked in the Device Manager to make sure that a USB 2. will function very slowly no matter which type of USB connection is used.

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