How to unbrick Samsung Laptop after Win 8.1 upgrade

Discussion in 'Samsung' started by brainiak4431, Sep 26, 2014.

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  1. brainiak4431

    brainiak4431 Newbie

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    THIS IS A HOW-TO TUTORIAL

    So I unknowingly updated to Win 8.1 and ran into the bootloop issues that many others have come across. I had a very very stressful 3 days. I recovered data from the drive but then I set off on the challenge to unbrick the laptop. My laptop is a Samsung Chronos Series 7 (NP700Z5C-S02UB)
    This unbrick solution will allow your laptop to complete Win 8.1 upgrade successfully and leave your files and settings in it's original condition assuming the harddrive has been untouched.

    You need the following:
    Tools to open up laptop
    1 Flash drive with at least 8 GB (2 flash drives is better)
    A working laptop

    1. You need to open up the laptop and gain access to the hard drive.
    2. Remove the hard drive from the laptop.
    3. Remove the battery, it slides out in my case (NP700Z5C-S02UB). Also disconnect the backup battery connector (small circular black covered battery) with a black and red wire coming out of it. Leave the laptop for a few minutes. Flip laptop over and press power button a few times to drain power. This resets firmware so you can do some stuff.
    4. Now prepare a bootable version of Win 8 by downloading RUFUS and this Win 8.1 iso: (illegal Windows ISO download stripped)
    Instructions to do so: UEFI Bootable USB Flash Drive - Create in Windows
    Note I used a Win 8 Pro x64 iso to make the USB so if the Win 8.1 iso doesnt work, try that. I couldn't find a link for it so search for the iso.
    5. Once you have created the UEFI bootable USB, reconnect both batteries to the laptop and place the flash drive in and boot from it.
    6. Once you have booted the Win 8.1 install from USB, select language and you will see a small link that says "Repair your computer" and then click "Advanced Settings"
    Then you will see UEFI firmware settings and click on that. System will restart into UEFI firmware settings.
    7. Now you can go to Secure boot and set it to Enable Customized Signatures. Then you can disable Secure Boot and set mode to "UEFI and CSM" or "CSM only" and save
    If you ever need to get back into UEFI firmware settings to change these settings, repeat above steps.
    8. Now take out your flash drive and using RUFUS, create bootable USB using this Gandalfs WinPE Win 8.1. Use the x64 version.
    Standalone Win8.1Update_PE x64 or x86 | Musings of an IT Pro (Download Link is at bottom of page)
    Note that the iso I gave is the WinPE 8.1. However if it doesnt work, look for Gandalfs WinPE Win 8 x64 iso, which is the one I used:
    Updated Win8PE now includes x86 & x64 versions | Musings of an IT Pro (Download Link is at bottom of page)
    9. Important: I cannot remember if I used MBR or GPT for UEFI or Bios to make the WinPE USB however so please try creating the USB with the different options if it won't boot
    10. Once you have created the USB and booted successfully into WinPE Windows, connect your computer via ethernet cable to the internet.
    11. Then open up the browser and go to SAMSUNG PC Windows 8 Upgrade and Click on link in step 3.
    Direct link "http://orcaservice.samsungmobile.com/SWUpdate.aspx"
    12. Make sure you noted the location where you saved that Samsung Software Update download and install it on the Win PE
    13. Then go into the Start Menu in Win PE and find the Samsung folder and run SWUpdate. It may prompt you to update it, and you may if you want.
    Once you have SWUpdate running on the Win PE, select the model number of your laptop and look for the BIOS upgrade.
    14. Make sure your laptop is plugged into the AC adapter and then start the BIOS upgrade. It will not let you update if the AC adapter is not hooked up.
    15. The computer will then reboot automatically and install the update.
    16. Now your computer has a fully updated newly flashed BIOS that solves the bootloop issue.
    17. Now remove the WinPE boot USB and turn off the laptop and hookup the original hard drive.
    18. As soon as the computer starts to boot again, quickly Press F2 to enter firmware settings and change mode back to "UEFI" or "UEFI and CSM" and exit with saving changes.
    19. Now restart laptop and hard drive will boot and will resume the Win 8.1 installation as before the bootloop occured
    20. NOTE IT CAN TAKE QUITE A WHILE so be patient.
    21. Viola, you should have your computer back as it was before the upgrade but with Win 8.1

    Mod Edit; you may be able to obtain a legal iso of Windows 8.1 using the official link. You will need your product key.

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media

    Mod Edit 2: The Galdalf WinPE images referred to above appear to be gone (though the Galdalf site itself is still up). Member @SurfingDude77 shared a link to an alternative WinPE image this post.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2016
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  2. brainiak4431

    brainiak4431 Newbie

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    If a mod wants to modify/edit this and sticky, please do. I feel like it will help a lot of people out.
     
  3. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    Hi brainiak,

    Welcome to NBR, and thanks a lot for posting that guide!

    You are absolutely correct that this type of semi-bricking occurs frequently, sometimes (but not always) caused by the BIOS not being updated when installing Win8.1. The NVRAM/CMOS data becomes corrupted, which prevents users from pressing F2 to enter BIOS and can cause a Windows boot loop.

    In cases where BIOS wasn't updated before, the solution is indeed to update the BIOS as you describe. In other cases (when the BIOS is already up-to-date) the solution is to re-flash the BIOS by rolling back to an earlier version (a more tricky process described in our BIOS roll-back thread) and THEN updating to the latest BIOS.

    In both cases the Catch-22 is that some form of Windows (or WinPE) must be booted to re-flash/update the BIOS -- but being unable to enter BIOS to disable Fast Boot/Fast BIOS and change the Boot Priority makes booting an external device difficult or even impossible.

    The problem and its solution is discussed in several different threads, most exhaustively in the one linked below, which is on the Samsung forum sticky list (top of the Samsung forum main page):

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/samsung/755985-how-boot-bios-when-function-buttons-not-showing.html

    If you want, I can move your guide to that thread. But I think it deserves its own thread, both since it specifically targets the situation after a failed Win8.1 upgrade, and specifically on the NP700Z?C models (caused by the Graphics adapter on those models), but also because you provide a concise step-by-step guide, which none of the other threads do.

    As you already know, I had to strip the Win8.1 ISO download link from the guide. Like many others, I too wish that Microsoft would make Win8.x ISOs available for public download like they do Win7 ISOs. And I agree with those who feel that it shouldn't be a problem since they have the Product Key to protect against piracy. But for whatever reason, Microsoft don't see it that way, and have chosen NOT to share those ISOs. And NBR's forum rules have a zero tolerance policy regarding discussion of "alternative" download sources. Users will have to obtain a legal Win8.1 DVD or download the ISO directly from Microsoft using their existing Product Key -- which will yield an ISO with the Product Key "baked in".

    Once again thank you for sharing this useful guide!
     
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  4. brainiak4431

    brainiak4431 Newbie

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    Yes I was having the same issue with not being able to enter the bios to change bios settings.
    The solution seems to be just removing the actual hard drive so it only boots off the UEFI bootable flash drive. If the boot USB is created properly with a Windows 8 iso, the system should boot from it even with secure boot enabled. You can make a CD/DVD with the Win8 iso or WinPE but I don't recommend it because the disk always has the possibility of getting stuck in there for a while.
    I had many system rescue disks that the computer just didn't load from even with the hard drive removed and that is when I learned about the GPT vs MBR and the UEFI boot differences.
    I suppose there are ways to flash the BIOS from command line but the WinPE just seemed like an easier choice because for the average user like me, a GUI is essential to getting anything to work lol.

    I was actually surprised that just fixing the BIOS allowed the Win 8.1 installation to resume and complete leaving everything intact.
     
  5. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    Yes, other members found as well that removing the HDD would boot an external device, even in UEFI mode with SecureBoot, and despite being unable to enter BIOS. Of course that external device must be GPT/FAT32 in order to boot in UEFI mode at all.

    One member even found that hot-plugging the SSD would let him F4 boot Recovery and restore to factory -- though I wouldn't generally recommend that.

    After successfully booting Win8.x Setup this way, it is recommended to enter BIOS through the Repair options and disable Fast Boot/Fast BIOS and SecureBoot, possibly even selecting OS Mode Selection=UEFI & CSM OS. That will make subsequent external booting easier -- although in these cases Boot Priority is still a problem, and F10 usually doesn't work.

    I am not aware of any command line tools to re-flash the BIOS on Samsung laptops. If anybody knows of such a tool that would be tremendously valuable, since a command prompt can be started from Windows Setup and the BIOS repaired this way. (We have reports of some old tools, but no confirmation that they work.)

    One warning particularly for owners of Series 7 and Series 5 models with ExpressCache (such as yours): Installing Windows from a USB stick is generally not recommended on these models, because Windows setup will be confused by the ExpressCache SSD (so-called iSSD) and cause a boot problem after Setup has finished copying files. There is a workaround for BIOS/MBR mode (see this guide), but installing from DVD is by far the easier solution.

    BUT, in cases of NVRAM/CMOS corruption and being locked out from BIOS (as discussed here), installing Windows in UEFI mode from USB on these models can brick the computer entirely: The EFI boot partition may end up on the iSSD and Boot Priority set accordingly. The iSSD is invisible until after boot has completed, and thus unbootable. And because the iSSD cannot be removed (it is soldered onto the motherboard) that takes away the only way to force booting from an external device -- and thus effectively bricks the computer. Again, the solution is to only install Windows from DVD on these models, at least until the NVRAM/CMOS corruption has been cleared.

    Those are all discussed at great length in the thread I linked.
     
  6. joot

    joot Notebook Enthusiast

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    I got to Brian's step #5 above but the laptop still is not booting from the the USB drive.....:(
     
  7. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    You posted about this in 4 different threads now -- none of them being the one I referred you to previously. I moved your last question here (that was a link). That's where you will find most relevant discussion and possible solutions.

    The guide in this thread here is for people who upgrade from Win8 to 8.1 without updating their BIOS first. That is not your situation. The NVRAM clearing guide links to this thread only because @brainiak4431 shared those Gandalf WinPE images.
     
  8. TANWare

    TANWare Just This Side of Senile, I think. Super Moderator

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    The problem too, is even with the drive removed some are having the problem where the EFI info is still in the system and not on the drive itself. Where it is on the drive removing it cures that issue and the bootable USB is the cure. With Samsung the EFI info on some of the systems is being stuck somewhere else. I am not sure it if is the iSSD or what but then removing the HDD/SSD does not cure the issue.

    This is where the emergency bios recovery procedure may work s before bios post it checks for this. The once loaded it apparently clears the nvram and EFI pointers/information. Unfortunately this blind flash does not work on all systems and should be considered as a last resort.
     
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  9. Dannemand

    Dannemand Decidedly Moderate Super Moderator

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    @TANWare: Yes, unfortunately there are cases where nothing will boot, even after disconnecting the HDD/SSD (which I don't know if @joot has tried yet) in which case clearing NVRAM with the BIOS flasher isn't an option. And in those cases emergency flash or physical chip re-flash are the only options (that we know of).

    All three of those options are discussed in @Fitztorious' thread which is why we're trying to make it the preferred unbricking thread (also the one listed in the Samsung sticky). That was my point here.

    This thread here is not really about bricking, but about solving an issue where a Win8.1 upgrade is stuck because of an old BIOS version (a known issue with Series 7 Nvidia models).

    I wish I could tell Google where to send owners searching for "samsung laptop bricked" because right know it goes to all other threads than the one that has the most answers :rolleyes:
     
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