What to do when BIOS update fails Dell laptop?

Updating the BIOS on your Dell laptop is an important way to get the latest features, fixes, and security enhancements. However, occasionally a BIOS update can fail and leave your computer unable to boot. If this happens, don’t panic – there are several things you can try to recover and get your laptop working again.

Why Did the BIOS Update Fail?

There are a few common reasons why a BIOS update might fail on a Dell laptop:

  • Power failure or interruption during the update – If the battery dies or the power is disrupted during the BIOS flashing process, it can corrupt the BIOS and cause the update to fail.
  • Incompatible or corrupted BIOS file – Using the wrong BIOS file version for your specific Dell model can result in failure. Downloading a corrupted file can also be the culprit.
  • Hardware failure – Faulty RAM, hard drive issues, and other hardware problems can sometimes interfere with a successful BIOS update.

If you suspect one of these factors caused your Dell BIOS update to fail, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take to try and resolve the issue…

1. Reset BIOS to Factory Settings

Resetting your Dell laptop’s BIOS settings to factory defaults will overwrite any corrupted BIOS data and clear out any incompatible custom settings that may be preventing your computer from booting up properly after a failed BIOS update.

Here are the steps to reset BIOS on a Dell:

  1. Turn on your Dell laptop and press F2 during boot up to access the BIOS setup utility.
  2. Navigate to the “Exit” tab and select “Load Setup Defaults” then press Enter.
  3. Press F10 to save changes and exit the BIOS setup utility.
  4. Click “Yes” when prompted to save changes and reset BIOS settings to factory defaults.
  5. Allow your laptop to reboot.

After resetting BIOS, try to power up your laptop normally and see if the issue is resolved.

2. Drain Residual Electrical Charge

If resetting BIOS to defaults does not work, a residual electrical charge remaining in the system can sometimes interfere with startup after a failed BIOS update on Dell laptops.

To discharge any built-up static electricity, you’ll need to perform a hard reset:

  1. Unplug your laptop and remove the battery.
  2. Hold down the power button for 30 seconds to drain any residual charge.
  3. Re-insert the battery and plug the AC adapter back in.
  4. Attempt to turn on your Dell laptop as normal.

This hard reset procedure will clear out any leftover static charge and allow your laptop to boot up fresh.

3. Boot into BIOS Recovery Mode

If the BIOS reset and draining residual charge does not get your Dell laptop back up and running, you can try booting into BIOS recovery mode.

Here is how to boot into BIOS recovery on a Dell:

  1. Turn off your laptop and unplug the AC adapter.
  2. Hold down the End key while plugging the AC adapter back in.
  3. Keep holding End until the LED near the charger port starts flashing an amber/orange color.
  4. When the flashing amber light appears, release the End key.
  5. The laptop will now boot into BIOS recovery mode. Follow on-screen prompts to reset BIOS to defaults or re-flash BIOS.
  6. After BIOS recovery is complete, exit and restart your laptop normally.

Using BIOS recovery should overwrite any corrupted data or improperly flashed BIOS that is preventing your Dell from booting.

4. Remove and Reseat Components

A hardware incompatibility issue can also potentially cause a failed BIOS update on your Dell laptop. Removing key components and reseating them can resolve such hardware-related issues:

  1. Unplug AC power and remove laptop battery.
  2. Open the case and remove the RAM modules and wireless card.
  3. Press and hold power button for 5 seconds to discharge static.
  4. Reinsert the RAM and wireless card firmly back into their slots.
  5. Replace battery and plug AC adapter back in.
  6. Attempt to turn on the laptop as normal.

Reseating key laptop components will ensure all hardware is properly connected and detected after a failed BIOS update.

5. Use BIOS Flashback Button

Some newer Dell laptop models come equipped with a BIOS flashback button. This is a hardware recovery tool that allows you to flash the BIOS file directly without needing to boot into Windows.

Here are the basic steps if your Dell has a flashback button:

  1. Download the correct BIOS file for your specific Dell model from the Dell support website and copy it to a FAT32 formatted USB drive.
  2. Insert the USB drive into your powered off Dell laptop.
  3. Locate the flashback button (usually near charger port) and hold it down as you press the power button.
  4. Keep holding flashback button for 3 seconds then release.
  5. The laptop will now flash the BIOS file from the USB drive. Wait several minutes for process to complete.
  6. Once BIOS flashback finishes, remove USB and reboot laptop.

Successfully flashing the BIOS via the recovery button should override any previous failed updates.

6. Use SupportAssist OS Recovery Tool

Dell offers a SupportAssist OS Recovery Tool which can be used to reinstall Windows and repair BIOS issues when booting fails after a faulty update.

To use SupportAssist for BIOS recovery:

  1. Download SupportAssist OS Recovery to a USB drive on another working computer.
  2. Plug USB recovery drive into Dell laptop and turn it on.
  3. Press F12 at Dell logo to open boot menu and select boot from USB.
  4. Follow on-screen instructions to run full diagnostics check and initiate OS reinstallation if needed.
  5. SupportAssist will override previous BIOS and automatically install latest working version.

Running SupportAssist can fix software issues caused by bad BIOS updates and securely restore your system.

7. Perform CMOS Reset

Resetting the CMOS on your Dell laptop will force the computer to redetect all hardware and clear any incorrect BIOS data.

Here is how to reset CMOS after BIOS update failure:

  1. Turn off laptop and unplug AC adapter and remove battery.
  2. Locate the CMOS reset jumper on motherboard.
  3. Use jumper cap to briefly short the CMOS pins.
  4. Replace jumper cap and reinstall battery and AC adapter.
  5. Turn on laptop and press F2 to enter BIOS.
  6. Select “Save & Exit” to reset CMOS and reboot system.

Resetting CMOS will undo any incorrect settings and get Dell laptop to recognize hardware properly again.

8. Contact Dell Technical Support

If all of the above troubleshooting steps fail to resolve your Dell laptop not booting after a bad BIOS update, contacting Dell technical support is the best option.

Dell’s expert tech support agents can walk you through additional advanced BIOS recovery procedures specific to your computer model and diagnose any underlying hardware issues.

Be prepared to provide your Dell laptop’s Service Tag identifier to support agents so they can access your model’s details and history. They can then view any specific error messages and pinpoint the cause of the failed BIOS update.

With remote support access, Dell agents can directly assist in safely reflashing your BIOS, restoring Windows or drivers, replacing hardware parts, or getting an on-site technician dispatched if needed.

While troubleshooting BIOS issues yourself is worth trying first, getting Dell’s professional support can speed up repairs when dealing with update failures.


Having a BIOS update fail on your Dell laptop can be worrying but is rarely permanently damaging. In most cases, you can successfully recover and restore full functionality through BIOS resets, CMOS resets, SupportAssist recovery tools, or Dell tech support assistance.

Persistence is key when troubleshooting a failed BIOS update. Work methodically through different repair techniques until you finally achieve a normal boot. Don’t hesitate to involve Dell’s experts if DIY efforts are unsuccessful.

With the right approach, you can get your Dell laptop back up and running again after a botched BIOS update.