I flashed my NEC 3500A yesterday with the Dangerous Brothers RPC1 fix. (3500RPC1.BIN based on latest firmware version 2.1A.) This seemed to work but subsequently Windows (2K) failed to boot. It got stuck at the initial Windows logo screen, with the progress indicator about 3/4 of the way across.
I disconnected the DVD drive but I still could not get it to boot. I then tried the Windows 2000 installation CD to do a repair. I got errors like “Disk I/O Error…etc.” and “Failed to ArcRead boot partition to check for a signature”. I tried the recovery console at this point and I was able to get in. The most obvious thing to try seemed to be FIXMBR so I did this, and was able to boot into Windows successfully on the next try.
When I had been doing the flashing earlier, there was one time when I didn’t shut Windows down cleanly. I thought that perhaps this was responsible for trashing my MBR and the DVD was not at fault, so I tried reconnecting the drive but the boot failed again. I had to disconnect the drive and fix the MBR again.
Next, I booted into DOS via a boot disk and reflashed the DVD to the original firmware (which I had backed up earlier). However, I had the same problem and had to go through the same process again. I haven’t tried anything else and the drive is now disconnected. I have had no problems booting since last disconnecting the drive and fixing the MBR (I have rebooted a few times since then).
So it seems like the flashing of the drive has resulted in it causing the MBR to get broken during the boot process. As I say, this even happens with reverted firmware. What sort of thing is likely to be going wrong to cause this and is there anything I can do about it? Did I need to set something in my BIOS or something. (Its an Abit NF7S based system if that’s any help.)
Some more details that might be relevant:
I tried to flash in DOS initially. I was able to backup my existing firmware using the command “nec3x00a -sec -sla -out BACKUP.BIN” but the attempt to flash the new one with “nec3x00a -sec -sla -flash 35000RPC1.BIN” failed with error “ERROR: image type mismatch”.
A bit of googling suggested I might be more successful with the Windows flasher, though in retrospect this seems odd as I would expect the ‘simpler’ environment to be more successful.
Anyway I booted into safe mode to run the Windows flasher. This seemed to work fine. I’m not sure whether doing it in safe mode was the right thing to do - my rationale was that there was less chance of anything running that would interfere with the flashing process.
I think I managed to boot successfully into Windows on one occasion after this, but I would not swear to it.
I would be grateful for any ideas or explanations about this. It would be nice to recover the drive, but I am not too bothered if I have toasted it - I was just relieved my system wasn’t trashed! I am bothered about introducing instabilities into my Windows installation and, as much out of curiosity as anything, I would like to understand what might have happened. I would also like to find out if there is something different I could/should have done so that I can avoid similar problems if I ever attempt this again.