Asus P5Q-E BIOS Lockout

Its the time of year I do maintenance and this includes backing up the operating system partition of my 4 year old quadcare VMWare host machine, with the idea of upgrading to VMWare 9. I do this by booting to a USB key full of utilities including Acronis TrueImage 2010 (the last version I bought and use now they added “activation” to it).

I was quite annoyed to discover that no matter what I typed, I could not access the usual boot device menu, not even get into the BIOS pressing the DEL key worked. This was alarming, what if I needed to enter the BIOS to fix something!

This started a process of testing various keyboards in the different USB ports as well as an old PS/2 keyboard – even that wasn’t recognised during boot. The USB keyboards worked OK in Windows but the PS/2 one didn’t, so it wasn’t clear if the port was functional.

I then noticed that pressing Caps Lock (a way for testing if keyboard interrupts are working) did toggle the Caps Lock LED, just upon power on but not once the BIOS logo screen came up. So I now knew both PS/2 and USB ports were working during the initial parts of P.O.S.T.

At this point, you probably would clear the CMOS RAM, but what if the firmware itself was corrupted? Then if the system didn’t let me reconfigure it, it would be toast.

I remembered I had the Windows based AsusUpdate. I installed it, re-flashed the same version of the firmware (P5Q-E-ASUS-1406) and got it to clear the CMOS RAM as well. That restored access to the BIOS.

So I am not exactly sure what had gone wrong. On the same day (December 24th 2012) I’d found my NAS’s BIOS forgot which drive to boot from, and my normally reliable security DVR spontaneously rebooted.

Gamma ray burst anyone 🙂