Friday, April 10, 2015

Updating Dell Latitude E6440 bios without an operating system, plus fixing an "undetectable" hard drive

Dell seem to have introduced a feature which would have been very handy to have had 18 months ago. Just download the firmware executable to a USB stick's root directory, power on the laptop and press F12 for a boot menu. There you should see (at least at the A07 revision) a BIOS upgrade option. After entering the BIOS admin password you are passed to a basic update screen which allows you to browse the file systems the BIOS can see (the stick I used was NTFS and the local HDD was non functional at the time) then select the executable and run it.

On a side note, the E6440 (in our config) runs an mSATA mounted on a 7mm frame to fit the SATA HDD bay. While this keeps things nice and light, this did cause me to run into an issue that does come up now and then, which is that the SATA connectors don't line up correctly and the disk is not detected. In this case, the laptop had been disassembled to deal with the effects of a fall and on reassembly the BIOS would not detect the drive.

When we were retrofitting 7mm Kingston SSDs into bays designed for 9mm SATA drives on E6320s and E6420s, we used the 2mm plastic shims provided to deal with this - it also happened with 7mm factory supplied HDDs sometimes. The same solution was employed here - a spare shim applied against the top side of the mSATA-SATA adapter frame allowed the frame's SATA connectors to properly connect to the receptacle in the laptop chassis. It's a bit annoying to have had to do this once again for a factory component, but at least the laptop is functional again.
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