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I'm sure it is a case of bad BIOS. What I'm not sure of is how did the BIOS get corrupted.

What causes BIOS failure in common scenarios? It was a Pentium 4 from 2004. Does age have to do anything with it? Is there a way to know what caused my BIOS failure? Battery is not the problem.

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Lightning strike or power spike; but, that probably does more than damaging your BIOS which you won't like... – Tom Wijsman Sep 12 '11 at 20:32
Sure it isn't bad/puffy capacitors? 2004 is right in the middle of the "capacitor plague". – Bigbio2002 Apr 3 '13 at 4:26
up vote 2 down vote accepted

BIOS failures are very uncommon, when they do happen it's usually the result of a failed attempt to update. Because the BIOS memory is on an EPROM it's difficult to have it fail under normal circumstances but with a 7 year old computer you're overdue for your first part failure. The chip may simply have worn out at this older age.

Hope this helps explain.

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Why would the chip wear out from just reading? Usually it's writing to the chip that wears it out. Also, newer computers (as in post 2000) usually use EEPROM or FLASH instead of EPROM. That makes it easier to fix BIOS corruption problems. – AndrejaKo Mar 2 '11 at 15:39
Sorry, you're correct I typo'd it would likely be EEPROM. The chips generally don't wear out, however any chip can be damaged over time by things like errant voltage, fluxuations in the board voltage being supplied from the power supply and if the machine is turn on and off regularly, simple heat damage will eventually wear them out. Testing power supplies when EEPROMs, EPROMS, or permanent chips like the north or south bridge fails can often find voltage problems. The same can happen if you overclock a computer by increasing bus speeds but all are quite rare. – Chris - Armor-IT Mar 2 '11 at 15:46
There was a rash of bad cmos batteries years ago on New Dell Desktops that caused bios corruption, replacement of the battery and a reset of the bios defaults cured them, just resetting the bios did not work, hard or soft, you had to replace the battery. I have never ran across this since, a rare cause but I always remembered this just in case. – Moab Mar 2 '11 at 16:02
Thanks for the addition @Moab, I had all but forgotten that fiasco – Chris - Armor-IT Mar 2 '11 at 19:47

The BIOS itself does not corrupt, although some kind of malware can destroy it.

Not starting does not imply broken BIOS, it's often caused by hardware failure of dust. According to How do I clean dust from a computer?, canned air can do this. (I did it with a vacuum cleaner, but canned/compressed air is safer).

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I've heard that Vacuum cleaners are a very bad idea for cleaning computers. They can generate a lot of static electricity, which even the smallest amount can destroy a component. – Dracs Mar 22 '12 at 8:24

MY BIOS apparently was corrupted somehow because my laptop was bricked and nothing worked until I shorted the CMOS battery which reset the BIOS. Problem solved.

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you might want to mark this as the answer. – soandos Jan 25 '12 at 14:03

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