Flashing firmware on servers

You have a server that supports Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) and you need to flash the BIOS on the server to update it. The vendor provides you with an .exe file for doing this and tells you to copy it to a floppy drive and boot from the floppy to flash the BIOS. Unfortunately the server doesn’t have an internal floppy drive, and you don’t have a USB floppy drive laying around. What can you do?

If the server is a Hyper-V host with a virtual machine running some version of Windows, you can use Hyper-V Manager to create a virtual floppy disk (.vfd file). You can then mount the virtual floppy disk by selecting it on the Diskette Drive page of Hyper-V Settings, boot the virtual machine, format the virtual floppy disk and copy the .exe file from the host to the virtual floppy disk in the virtual machine. Then shut down the virtual machine and use IPMI to redirect the floppy disk image to flash the BIOS.

And for information on why Hyper-V even bothers to include support for virtual floppy disks, see John Howard’s blog post at

The above tip was previously published in an issue of WServerNews, a weekly newsletter from TechGenix that focuses on the administration, management and security of the Windows Server platform in particular and cloud solutions in general. Subscribe to WServerNews today by going to http://www.wservernews.com/subscribe.htm and join almost 100,000 other IT professionals around the world who read our newsletter!

Mitch Tulloch is an eleven-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud computing technologies.  Mitch is also Senior Editor of WServerNews. For more information about him see http://www.mtit.com.



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