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Bug Upgrades Hardware

What To Do When an Advised BIOS Upgrade Is Bad? 467

Posted by timothy
from the wishful-thinking dept.
Bomarc writes "Twice now I've been advised to 'flash the BIOS to the latest,' once by a (major) hard drive controller maker (RAID); once by an OEM (who listed the update as 'critical,' and has removed older versions of the BIOS). Both times, the update has bricked an expensive piece of equipment. Both times, the response after the failed flash was 'It's not our problem, it's out of warranty.' Given that they recommended / advised that the unit be upgraded, shouldn't they shoulder the responsibility of BIOS upgrade failure? Also, if their design had sockets rather than soldering on parts, one could R/R the faulty part (BIOS chip), rather than going to eBay and praying. Am I the only one that has experienced this type of problem? Have you been advised to upgrade a BIOS (firmware); and the upgrade bricked the part or system? If so, what did you do? Should I name the companies?"
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What To Do When an Advised BIOS Upgrade Is Bad?

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  • by Let's All Be Chinese (2654985) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @02:42PM (#42851469)

    is what the legal status of their "recommendations" is and whether you ought to sue them.

    The tried-and-true andwer to that is: Ask a lawyer. I'm quite sure it can and does swing either way depending on local laws and any number of details you haven't provided.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @02:50PM (#42851523)
    If it is working, then an "upgrade" cannot make it better. It can only be the same or worse.
  • by Sipper (462582) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @02:50PM (#42851529)

    It's you. I've flashed firmwares of hundreds of devices - motherboards, phones, video cards, embedded systems, routers, etc, and I have never once had one of them brick.

    That's not a fair statement, because the specific devices and firmware versions have not yet been stated, so your statement is completely based on an assumption based solely on your experiences, which may nor may not have any relevance to this hardware in question. Thus what you're doing is known as "blaming the victim".

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @03:07PM (#42851637) Homepage

    Yes - buy another is definitely going to make you buy one of their products again.

    Just tell them that you will look at competitors. And there are a few around to select between.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @03:20PM (#42851763) Homepage Journal

    I have some Thinkpads around here and it seems there's a firmware update every few months. But if you read the 'what's new' it's usually something stupid like "Old version updated to support new model xxxxxx" which I don't even have. Or worse "Corrected typo in BIOS menu."

    Before I flash anything I'd like to know why and under what scenario, if any, it's necessary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @03:30PM (#42851831)

    If the only two times the "victim" flashed a bios he bricked a device I suspect a loose nut behind the keyboard.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cyberzephyr (705742) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @03:34PM (#42851857) Journal

    This poster is correct. These companies need to be named so that other folks don't get screwed by them. Case in point i have a SAMSUNG 32 inch tv. It started turning itself on and off, so i called the company and found out they lost a class action suit and had to send a tech to your home to fix the problem. Hmm did SAMSUNG call me or even send a letter about this? NO. The SOB's need to be told on period!

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @03:43PM (#42851955) Homepage Journal

    I don't mean to be a knob but I think the fault doesn't particularly lie with the vendor.

    I view it differently. The vender advised the work. If I called up Toyota and asked advice about something for my 10 year old truck*, while it might be out of warranty if their advice resulted in major damage I think they should be liable for something.

    Your advice seems to be along the lines of 'buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment every year to replace equipment that is still functional solely to keep the warranty up'.

    That's not good for the company's wallet, the environment, etc...

    *Not that old yet, but still

  • Responsibility (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gd2shoe (747932) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @03:46PM (#42851987) Journal

    There is a degree of truth in what you're saying. He does shoulder responsibility here.

    On the other hand, what the vendors have done is childish, at best. They have suggested he do something to the hardware, they participated (wrote the update), and when the metaphorical window broke, they ran like miscreants. Their mothers should really give them a firm talking to and send them to apologize.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:01PM (#42852119) Homepage

    Wait, wait, wait. A BIOS flash should (almost) completely erase the BIOS, then reprogram it.

    Are you telling me that some companies use incremental BIOS upgrades? And why?

    This is particularly worrying to me, as I have a SuperMicro L8i SAS controller I just installed in my main machine, and LSI is apparently behind the chipset.

  • Re:Ummmm, no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:09PM (#42852191) Homepage Journal

    In cases 1 and 2, if you don't need the new features or the extra performance, your system "ain't broke".

    In cases 3 and for, your system "is broke".

    So yeah, in Systems Administration the rule still is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:21PM (#42852293)

    Anyone see what is wrong with this?

    Yes. What is wrong is that you deleted important context and qualifiers.

  • by SCPRedMage (838040) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:32PM (#42852357)

    Corporations are not people; they do not care about you, nor should you truly care about them.

    The only thing corporations are concerned about are their bottom line; if doing something helps them profit, they'll do it. If doing something HURTS their bottom line (such as, oh, I don't know, paying taxes), they'll avoid doing it as best as they can.

    Any example you might provide to prove otherwise is only an example of image control, a calculated effort to improve their standing in the eyes of their consumers.

    Bottom line: report what corporations do. If it's bad, it'll help your fellow consumers avoid being screwed over. If it's good, it'll steer them towards companies that care enough about their image to not be total dickbags.

  • by McDutchie (151611) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:39PM (#42852425) Homepage
    After bricking three successive broadband routers using firmware upgrades recommended by their respective manufacturers, my position on firmware upgrades is simple: NEVER do them, unless you have nothing to lose (i.e. if your device is working so badly that you would need to replace it anyway).
  • by obtuse (79208) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:58PM (#42852631) Journal

    My main concern is this: If the manufacturer gets punished for failing to properly support out of warranty hardware, they'll just stop altogether. Too many manufacturers will already refuse to talk to you about out of warranty equipment.

    Since they tried to help, I'd prefer not to see them punished for this mistake. Think of it like good samaritan laws: They protect a person who stops to offer aid to the injured, from being sued.

    My other thought is that perhaps there was some hidden problem that something in the update triggered. Updates often have new functionality, or may write to memory not used before, so it isn't too hard to imagine them tickling an existing bug. For a car analogy, imagine you bought a used car from a friend and complained that it shook horribly at 75, but since your friend never went over 65 he never noticed when the tires and alignment deteriorated to that point.

    Finally, I'm appalled that they don't make old firmware versions available. That would be the appropriate response to your problem. Hopefully you can find someone helpful who has the old firmware around, either inside or outside the companies. Definitely appropriate for people to be warned that these updates can cause problems.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday February 10, 2013 @05:20PM (#42852859) Journal

    Moral of the story: If a company screws you NEVER buy from them again. Abit screwed me on their CPU support list which turned out if the chip wasn't released prior to the board? They didn't test squat, just looked at the voltage which of course doesn't magically tell you if the CPU will work so I never bought from them again, same thing with Biostar when I had to buy a new board because their CPU support list said the X6 was supported and it turned out that like Abit they were ONLY looking at the watts on the box and ignoring that later Phenoms have turbocore which requires a boost to wattage when it activates.

    At the end of the day all you can do is not buy from them again and warn others, just as I was warning others before it came out Nvidia had made a batch with faulty solder or how I warn people now that Seagate drives over 500GB seem to be having crazy high failure rates.

    I DO have a question though, what was the firmware number you were on and which did you try to upgrade to, if you remember? As I stated in an earlier posting a lot of those devices can NOT have in between firmware skipped without serious risk of bricking so I am curious whether you applied the previous updates and it still bricked, or if you tried to go straight to the latest and that is when it crapped out.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bomarc (306716) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @05:51PM (#42853119) Homepage

    Why on earth are you repurposing ~7-10 year old server hardware?.

    I don't believe that just because it's old it should be thrown away. The speed is comparable with "modern" (current) equipment, the maintiance cost is less. I'm tired of "Oh, this is the latest, you must have it." I don't fall for that marketing hype, it's a shame that so many do.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @06:20PM (#42853351) Homepage Journal

    We protect the vendors from consumers, around here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @06:54PM (#42853635)

    If doing something HURTS their bottom line (such as, oh, I don't know, paying taxes), they'll avoid doing it as best as they can.

    The only tax concern corporations have is whether they pay more taxes relative to their competitors. If your company makes widgets and your company pays 5% more taxes than your competitor that also makes widgets (maybe your accountant sucks), you are at a competitive disadvantage. Corporations definitely want to avoid that scenario.

    But that relative sense is the one they care about. Otherwise, corporations effectively don't pay taxes. They pass them on to the customers. If the tax rate on all companies making widgets goes up by 10%, then widgets are simply going to be 10% more expensive for everybody who buys them. All the lobbying and so forth just amounts to companies trying to get an edge against their competitors by having taxes or tax breaks that selectively apply.

    Placing an income tax on corporations is just a way of placing a double income tax on people like you and me. We paid income tax once when we got our paycheck and now we pay again the corporate income tax included in the price of everything we buy. Same deal with a sales tax, just with a sales tax it is more obvious that the corporation is merely acting as a collection agent for a tax that _you_ are paying.

    I know it's fashionable to have irrational hatred of corporations. I don't much like them myself. But when you tax a corporation you are not taxing the corporation, nor are you sticking it to those evil rich people or whatever you thought it was accomplishing. You are merely taxing yourself, again, in a slightly indirect way. I wish people who want to form opinions about these things would learn a bit about it first, it would eliminate a lot of these phony debates people keep having.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcollins117 (1267462) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @06:54PM (#42853641)

    LSI at least does keep updating things

    I admire your optimism, sir. Sure, the updates brick his controllers, but at least they come often. It's that glass-is-half-full spirit we don't see enough of these days.

  • by greenbird (859670) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @08:43PM (#42854445)

    When corporations do not put out quality products or keep their customers happy, they end up being bankrupt corporations.

    Ummm...or end up getting bailed out with our tax dollars while the corporate upper management that drove said company to bankruptcy in the first place walks away with more money than they paid the entire bottom 80% of the employees over 10 years. Or in many cases only the second part...*cough* Nortel *cough*...

    Companies today don't look at how to make great products or keep their customers happy. Their multi-million dollar salaried CEOs simple look at how to get their bonuses triggered no matter how bad it screws up the company. That and figuring out which politicians to pay off and which lawyers to hire to kill off any potential competition.

    Hell if someone offered me millions of dollars to drive a healthy company into bankruptcy I'd be tempted to take it. Wouldn't you?

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