I'm working on a Dell Inspiron E1705 laptop that I think the BIOS has become corrupt. A few weeks ago, the unit started giving its owner (my cousin) a message during startup about the amount of memory having been changed and wouldn't load the OS (Win XP). The memory, of course, hadn't been touched. Upon my inspection, I was able to pass the memory message by pressing ESC, but then Windows hung while loading. Rebooting prompted the typical Safe mode options, and Windows loads successfully in Safe Mode. But won't load normally. Rebooting and going into the BIOS (F2 during startup) starts the Dell Bios app, but I can only view a few menu choices before the BIOS app freezes (about 3-5 seconds). I tried disconnecting the CMOS and power battery and holding the power button for 30 secs to reset, but the problem persists. I also tried different RAM, but the problem persists.
The BIOS on the unit is Dell MP061A02, the latest version is MP061A09. Dell has an executable (MP061A09.exe) that is supposed to be placed in the desktop folder of the system to have its BIOS updated, and when executed, it extracts a new BIOS info file and sets a CMOS bit to trigger the BIOS update on the next startup. The problem is that the executable won't run on the unit (perhaps because it's in safe mode?). Anyway, I have an older box around that I ran it on and the new BIOS info file was extracted there. I tried copying the file to the desktop folder on the Dell and rebooting, but without the CMOS bit flagged to update the BIOS, I doubted it would work, and I was right, lol.
I thought about trying to make a BIOS upgrade boot CD, but I can't get into the BIOS long enough to change the boot sequence, so I can't boot from the CD drive anyway.
An odd, but probably relevant detail is that the unit won't boot to Safe Mode or even to the BIOS app while the batt charger cord is connected. The system hangs at about 75% of the blue progress bar on the Dell startup screen that displays before the OS usually loads. Power off, remove cord, power on, and the blue progress bar zips by in less than a second, then it's back to our previous options: Safe Mode or Frozen BIOS mode, lol.
I also tried a system restore to a few days before the problem first appeared, and removing the CD drive, but neither one helped.
Hosed mobo? Bios?
All thoughts and suggestions welcome....
Andy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin