CMOS Settings


Old 09-27-02, 02:51 AM
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CMOS Settings

Hi guys,

Notebook 386SX. OS is DOS 6.22

The current problem is:
1. Will not boot up (with a boot disk, I can get to an A:\ prompt, but no further: when I try cd c:\ it gives me the "invalid drive" message).

2. Error Messages (on attempted boot): 1. No boot device available - press F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility.

-- Replaced CMOS Battery (3.6V/45mAh) after receiving error message of invalid config information, Run Setup Program, and that the battery was bad - not surprised, since the Laptop's about 10 years old and the battery has never been replaced.

-- Was unable to check the CMOS settings after the Laptop failed to boot up (probably because the battery was dead and the settings were lost).

The problem is huge to me because I am very limited in my knowledge of computers - I'm not real sure what CMOS is.

Anyway, I was able to get into (what I think is) the CMOS setup page. Following is what I found:

System Time and Date are wrong (Jan 01, 1990, etc)/
Diskette A: 3.5", 1.44 MB
Diskette B: Not Installed
Hard Disk 1: Not Installed
Hard Disk 2: Not Installed
Base Memory: 640 KB
Extended Memory: 4480 KB
Video Card: VGA/EGA
Keyboard: Installed
CPU Speed: Fast

The problem I see is that HD1 is not installed. When I click to select install, it gives me: Type 1, Type 2, etc, with different values for Cyl, Hd, Pre, LZ, Sec, Size. I have no idea which type to select.

On page 2, I get the following Disabled items:
System BIOS Shadow
Video BIOS Shadow
Global Power Mgmt
CPU Time Out
DRAM Slow Refresh

I need to know what these values should be. When I try to set the default, there's still no change.

If anyone can guide me to a website, or offer some help of their own, I'd sure appreciate it.

I'm sure the problem is in the settings, but I need a lot of help deciding which settings are correct.

I do have a boot disk (DOS 6.22) but as I said earlier, it won't boot up even with that disk.

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Old 09-27-02, 04:24 AM
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Don't worry about what CMOS actually means. it's just a place for the computer to store its bios (basic input/output system) settings. You can reset the clock, it reset when you pulled the battery.

On the first setup page is there a selection that says "auto detect hard drive" or auto detect ide devices", something like that? If so, seelct that and the computer will determine what hd you have. If not, you have 2 choices: 1 - look on the housing for the hd to see if the drive parameters are listed; you can then input these on the setup page, or 2 - trial and error the drive types until you get the proper one (this will be a little time consuming).

Don't worry about the other settings.
Old 09-27-02, 05:44 AM
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RE: CMOS in 386 laptop

It has been a while.....
Good you are able to get into CMOS [BIOS Setup] (and having acquired a replacement battery).

IF!!!!! memory serves me right (only on second cup Java); 386 may not have Auto detect for HDD. Will need to examine laptop carefully and figure out how to gain access to spec label ON THE HARDDRIVE( as The_Tow_Guy said) [oh yeah,,,, sometimes the HDD is encased in a protective shell, within the laptop] or search the 'Net for the spec of Heads, Cylinders, etc. for that drive [do spec search for the make and model laptop, less intrusive, esp. if not familiar with taking apart laptop]. Write these values down for easy reference.
Go back into BIOS setup (CMOS) and for the Harddrive setting, choose the Custom/User configuration-- this is where you will enter number of heads/cylinders, etc. If the spec sheet did not have a value for one asked for in BIOS, ignore it, most likely will not matter (but should not do any damage). Save changes and reboot. Watch POST and see if recognizes drive now.

(Still waking up and wishing I had more vacation time)
Old 09-27-02, 06:53 AM
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auto detect HD

Thank you both for the quick replies.

There is no auto detect feature, unfortunately.

I have the Phoenix BIOS Setup Program (version 1.00) 02, and if you look at:


these are similiar to what I have, except that I have 02 instead of 03 in the Header where it says "Phoenix SETUP Utility (Version 1.00) 03"

TowGuy, you said: "...2 - trial and error the drive types until you get the proper one (this will be a little time consuming)". Are there any problems associated with this? I mean, damage, etc? How will I know when I've found the correct drive with this method?

bluecanary25, through trial and error, I did manage to figure out how to actually get into the Laptop - I have never before seen a piece of electronic equipment as difficult as this one was to figure out how to get into. But, after several YEARS trying, I finally did it Maybe my patience and determination wasn't up to par until now!!

Well, I will look closely at the HD unit again for specs and get back with what I've found.

As you can see, I have done some web search, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of info available for my specific problem.

Thanks again for the replies (I welcome more), and hope you can help me figure this thing out.

Old 09-27-02, 10:22 AM
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Solved (I think)


I found some websites that gave me the BIOS settings for the HD I have (Conner 4044).

I loaded the values, done some tweaking, and everything is back. So far so good.

Thanks for the help.

Old 09-27-02, 03:33 PM
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Cool. I was pretty sure you wouldn't have an auto-detect on your dinosaur. To answer your question on trial & error finding the correct hd setup; no problem - if you had to go that route you would have maybe got some error messages, but no harm. Long process tho; can't remember how many types are usually in there, but finding the specs was a LOT faster.

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