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My column, “Battery Failure Brings Down CMOS,
Leads to Wake-up Call,” published July 20, 2001, is still generating
email responses from readers. These emails are from readers who share a
common problem: they are using older desktops or laptops that have a “hard-wired”
battery that is dead. Moreover, because the battery is hard-wired, the
average home computer user cannot easily replace it.
The result is that when they “boot-up” their
computers, the CMOS check fails and they are presented with a screen
that reads: “Press <F1> to enter setup program.” When they
enter the setup screen, they see that all of their configuration
information has been reset to default values. While the time and date
values and floppy drive values are easy to restore, the real difficulty
lies in restoring the hard disk type. Every hard disk is assigned a type
number that identifies its characteristics, i.e., heads, cylinders,
size, etc. Unless the correct characteristics are set in the CMOS
configuration, the hard disk cannot be accessed.
Now, while it’s on your mind, I suggest you enter your CMOS setup
program and note the settings of your CMOS, paying particular attention
to the hard disk characteristics. If your battery is dead and cannot be
replaced, it is relatively quick and easy to enter the CMOS settings
manually each time you boot-up. Or, you can use two freeware utilities
published by PC Magazine in the late 80s. These utilities are
named CMOSPUT.COM and CMOSGET.COM.
The purpose of CMOSGET.COM is to save the CMOS configurations once you
have set them up correctly. This is an excellent program to use to
record and print your CMOS settings. Then, you can then use CMOSPUT.COM
using a bootable floppy to reload the settings instantly. PC Magazine
developed these programs to speed things along when the battery is
changed, but these utilities should also solve your problem when the
battery is dead and cannot be replaced. PC Magazine's web site
archives download utilities only these utilities available for download.
The web site address where they can be obtained is http://cerealport.homeip.net/cereal/pcmag/filesbbs.html.
Here's how to use CMOSGET.COM and CMOSPUT.COM:
1. Create a bootable floppy by using the FORMAT command with the /S
option. Copy CMOSGET.COM and CMOSPUT.COM to the floppy. (PC Magazine
also suggests you copy the SETUP program to the same floppy. If you have
the original DOS files, the SETUP program may be on the diagnostic disk.
If CMOSGET and CMOSPUT work correctly, however, you should not need the
copy of the SETUP program.)
2. Run CMOSGET.COM to save the CMOS memory in a .dat file on the floppy
with this command: CMOSGET > A:CMOS.DAT
3. Boot the computer from the floppy and ignore the error messages. Set
the date and time with the DOS TIME and DATE commands. Run CMOSPUT.COM
to load the CMOS memory with the command: CMOSPUT < CMOS.DAT
4. Now, remove the floppy and reboot the computer. If everything works,
you should get no errors and see the correct time and date. (If there is
a problem, you can reboot using the floppy and run the SETUP program.)
I have not used these programs, so I cannot vouch for them personally.
However, I assume that because PC Magazine published them, they
should work. Also, you can see some Usenet articles about these programs
by using "CMOSGET.COM" or “CMOSPUT.COM” as search terms in
Google's groups web site at http://groups.google.com.
Once again, I encourage you to find out how to setup and backup the CMOS
configuration settings on your computer. Do it now. Configuration setup
procedures will vary by computer manufacturer. Check your computer
manuals, your computer manufacturer’s website, and search the web or
newsgroups. Of equal importance, do not change your configuration
settings unless you know what you are doing. If you have any doubts
about your capabilities in this area, get some knowledgeable help.
The Greg Gore Web Site on
Computers and the Internet (www.GregGore.com)
column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on
September 18, 2002. Greg Gore
can be reached at gg@GregGore.com.
2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.