Help with merging bios info from broken machine with new fresh bios?

Here’s what I’m trying to do. I have hundreds of laptops that I go through and repair, and I usually have a guy from get me a fresh bios file according to my motherboard model, then he edits it by taking the original bios that I ripped from the bricked machine, and merging the info with a fresh bios from the manufacturer. I have access to these fresh bios files myself, but I cannot find ANY information online about how to properly merge these files. If anyone can point me in the right direction, I would GREATLY appreciate it. Thank you.

@Wayne5150 - This varies from BIOS to BIOS, different types have info in different areas, same for different brands etc
So, until you learn to do yourself you will need to do on a case by case basis as you had been doing before. This mainly applies to system specific stuff like Serial, UUID, LAN MAC ID etc

To make a bootable/programmable BIOS for flash programmer, you often may need to find other known working dump first to work with.
This is due to many BIOS downloads from manufacturers are only partial BIOS update files (only contain part of the BIOS), or that + also contain stuff you do not put into BIOS that’s only used during normal BIOS update procedure.

This is all often very tricky usually, especially if you aren’t familiar with BIOS editing.
Rare cases it may be simple, especially if you do not care to retain serial, or UUID (MAC often easy to transfer if you know it), but this is not too often the case even if you don’t care to keep this info.

Thank you for replying so fast with such good advice! I am partially experienced with editing BIOS files, mostly for HP removing the administrator password, so this info really did help. I figured it was on a case-by-case basis, especially between different manufacturers/generations.

I think what I may do is compare the new working file i buy with the old one per model using a hex editor, and see which parts are being changed. That might get me rolling in the right direction.

Thanks again for the advice!

You’re welcome! Hopefully you are not “buying” a bunch of BIOS, generally all this can be found online for free, except maybe in some rare/random instances.
Once you learn how/where info is stored for one manufacturer, it may often be in similar location or BIOS Module, so that does make it easier the more you do this.
If you have serial or MAC, and search the BIOS with UEFITool NE Alpha via ASCII and or unicode, or Hex, you can often find at least one of the locations of the data. Sometimes it’s stored in 2-3 places, other times only a single place

Ah yes! This is what I was thinking would be the case when looking through an HP file earlier today, seemed like most of the information i would need to copy over was more or less in one spot.

As for buying bios files, I haven’t been buying the files themselves, but the service of having them edited together with the ones I’m ripping off the chips. Obviously it would be much more cost-effective to just learn to do it myself, which is what eventually led me here.

I’ve been using HXD as my hex editor, I haven’t heard of UEFITool NE until just now. I downloaded it and I really like the structure, this may help me out a lot.

Can’t thank you enough! I definitely feel steered in the right direction.

HP is a pain, generally you will need to dump the BIOS with programmer, edit, and then program back.
Some you cannot edit at all, if updated to latest BIOS, due to RSA internal checking, so edit before updating when possible!
And some you cannot edit at all due to HP’s SureStart will auto-recover the stock BIOS as soon as you put on the mod.
And then, for many OEM BIOS, you also need to check about Boot Guard and what it’s covering if enabled, because you can’t edit anything covered there when enabled either or it’s a brick.

So be VERY careful with HP, Dell, Lenovo that you do not edit anything in area that’s covered with Yellow, Cyan, or RED when BIOS file is dropped into UEFITool NE 51
Until you check via MEINFO -verbose to see if Intel Boot Guard is enabled at left/FPF side, if it is, then you cannot touch anything in colored areas at all or = brick
YOu can get MEINFO here, in “System Tools” section C.2, you have to use the correct package per the ME FW type in the board
Intel Management Engine: Drivers, Firmware & System Tools

I can help you to learn some, but we’d have to start with some single file that you already know the Serial, UUID and MAC ID from for sure, then I could show you where it was, how to edit etc.
You’re welcome, always happy to help!!

There is many tools to do certain things in BIOS, and using Hex editor “generally” is only done directly with non-volumed areas of the BIOS, such as a open/free padding area, or some non-compressed space etc.
Best way usually involves extract of the module you want to edit, then edit in hex, then put back with BIOS tool you extracted it with.

For many BIOS UEFITool will work, but some you may need to use AMI MMTool 4.5 or 5.02 (Google to download, can’t link here) 4.5 is for older AMI Aptio IV BIOS, 5.02 for Aptio V
For Intel Insyde BIOS, to fix stuff like this, I would use UEFITool and hex editor most often, there is Insyde specific BIOS tools but those are more for changing settings and even then I only use them for inspection or checking, I do it all manually.

I’ve learned so much from this! So much trial and error and deduction and troubleshooting I’ve done, but you’ve explained WHY and that helps so much.
for instance:

“And some you cannot edit at all due to HP’s SureStart will auto-recover the stock BIOS as soon as you put on the mod.” - This has been frustrating me to no end with some machines, thank you for explaining!

And that would be amazing if you could help me out with a file from a machine I have the info for, I would be eternally grateful. Maybe tomorrow I can send you one? I’m about to get off work soon and all of my tools are here.

Thanks again!

Hey, @Lost_N_BIOS , still willing to give me a hand with merging?

What would be a good way to send you the file? I have some HPs we can try, i have 840 g1/2, 820 g1/2, zbook 15 G2. which would you prefer to work with?

I have a Zbook ready to go if you could show me a thing or 2 @Lost_N_BIOS

I’ve dumped the bin from the bios chip of a zbook 17, and put it on my google drive. Here it is along with some additional info!

Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

HP Zbook 17 BIOS bin

@Wayne5150 - HP is the worst. Please make sure the ones you want to mess with are not SureStart systems (via google)
Also, some are RSA encrypted, so even with programmer dump you get brick on boot.

I’ll check above and let you know what info I can find, where it’s at, how to change etc. What is that systems actual full model name?

* Edit - Also, please connect Ethernet cable to this system, and get in windows and show me image of CMD >> IPCONFIG /ALL

* Edit 2 - @Wayne5150 - I need BIOS download page for this system (Not direct link, the page you download from), as well as actual model name.
You need to dump another BIOS chip, this is only half the BIOS


Oh you need the other as well? I think the second chip is like 4MB for this model if i remember correctly, the guy i always get my files from only uses the 16MB file so I didn’t think to grab it at the time xD

I took a look at HP’s documentation for surestart, on a machine that has it, do you think you could just de-solder off the backup chip and prevent it from updating? or would that just outright brick the board until you re flashed it with the original and put the copy chip back on? Just curious.

I will have to get the other chip dumped tomorrow, as we’re about to lock up shop for today. I’ll link it here in the morning if you want to take a look at it! I’ll also get you the ipconfig info and the bios download page for this system. That’ll all be no problem to get.

Thanks as always!

@Wayne5150 - Yes, in many/all cases, it’s best to append the BIOS before working on it, then split once you are done.
In some cases this is 100% required because BIOS is split directly between the chips at a compressed volume/area. For this BIOS, I can’t tell yet until I have the other half.
Some are not though, but even those I append, work, then split and program back, good habit to get into

If this is a 16MB BIOS system, then something wrong here, you only sent me a 2MB dump, other chip can’t be 14MB chip, that’s not a thing.
Generally there would be 2+8 (rare), 2+4 (common), 4+8 (common), or 8+8 (also common) or 16+16

Also, not all programmers software/versions can read or write to all chips successfully, so sometimes you may need to google around or ask to find out what is best to read/write to certain chip ID’s
Otherwise you can end up with bad but “verified” reads, and then failed writes and you end up thinking it’s the BIOS/edit when it’s really bad software’/version for that chip.

On Surestart, there’s NO way around it, some models have it in a config or version worse than others too. Some you can edit some parts of the BIOS sometimes, but most you cannot.
There is no backup chip, at least not normal BIOS looking one, we’ve tried and looked into that before. Surestarts backup is stored in some other unusual location, possibly some QFP/QFN chip
It would be nice to find, but I’ve not had a system in hand to check myself, only relied on others to dump all chips and we tried to find a few times on a few models.

If it’s on QFP/QFN, then it could possibly be removed or edited there with the mod, then any recovery would recover the mods, but that would have to be tested and most end users are not going to be able to desolder/resolder QFP chips.
If you can, then we can look deeper into this if you want? But generally, this isn’t something you need to work around just to fix BIOS, this is more of an issue with a mod BIOS, like one you try to update modules or unlock menus etc.
For fixing BIOS, it should not be an issue, and or should help in recovery once back up and running.

Ohh my goodness, i realize why I sent you the wrong bios, it’s because i dont really work on 17" zbooks that much, the chip that was exposed (which on the 15" is the main 16MB chip) was the 2MB chip. Totally my bad! I’ll post the other once I get settled into work here this morning!

Thanks for the info on surestart, Looking through the documentation I see what you mean about different versions just getting worse as time went on (for modders)

And hey, if you ever want to check out a QFP chip my soldering skills are pretty good, I just need to know where to look!

Also thanks for the tip about using different software, I’ve only been using RT809F Serial ISP Programmer, some chinese stuff. I will look around because just like you said, sometimes i get a verified detect but it will still fail to read or write.

Keep a look out here, i’ll have the other file in a bit!

Here is a link to the 16MB file, sorry for the confusion!Zbook 17 16MB bios dump

Hey, @Lost_N_BIOS i also have something you may find interesting/useful.

I’m usually able to remove BIOS passwords from most HPs, but I needed help from the guy i buy some files from for this one. I have both the original and modded files if you’re interested in seeing the difference. It’s MASSIVE and it only took him about 5 minutes. Makes me think he has some sort of program for certain models.

Here’s a link if you’re interested!
HP EliteBook 820 G3

@Lost_N_BIOS I use UEFITOOL to extract the ME region of a bios dump, to replace on another dump, but I can only extract, not replace. It is grayed out. Any suggestions? different software maybe?