Inspiron 1501 - BIOS flasher gives BIOS not flashable, error code -144


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Inspiron 1501 - BIOS flasher gives BIOS not flashable, error code -144

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Hello all,

I'm unfortunate enough to have bought a laptop from Dell, and amongst other problems lately with it (widespread problems from all accounts) I'm now trying to resolve the boot time message 'battery cannot be identified'. Amongst the 101 ideas on what might cure it (I've tried 100 of them) I'm now down to the last, which is flashing the BIOS. Apparently updating to the latest version doesn't always cure it, in which case flashing it with the same BIOS it already has should do. What a joke.

Anyway, when I download the BIOS from the Dell site using my service tag number to ensure the correct files are shown, the utility packaged with it called Winphlash gets to the stage where it should write the BIOS and then states: BIOS not flashable. Error code: -144 and that's the end of that.

The warranty ended one month ago, and on the live Dell chat, the operator told me that they had no idea what might be causing that error code. Of course, the technical repair department does since they'll be fixing lots under warranty and lots at a price out of warranty, and so will know what causes it and what remedial action needs to be taken. Same as with the battery cannot be identified nonsense. Couldn't help with either, though. I asked if the technical side actually pass on their knowledge to the support department and was told that no, they do not. Clearly they want things kept under wraps for many reasons I can think of.

I was then told that I'd need to pay for Dell technical to assist me (one of the reasons why support don't help much - money making scheme). I'll be tarred and rolled in oats before I pay through the nose to be messed about, left on hold and eventually told I need to buy overpriced expensive parts from Dell because their substandard equipment fails long before it should, and with a stock fault, no less. Improper design or intentionally manufactured defects to raise money from replacement parts sales are not my problem and I should not have to pay because of them.

Does anyone have any inkling as to why I'm getting the BIOS is not flashable error message when I know that many 1501s have been flashed with new BIOSes and they're available to download from Dell using the machine's service tag? I have tried safe mode (won't work in safe mode), I have tried killing all but essential processes before running. I have no firewall or other software that may be affecting it. I tried with the original Vista installation, then partitioned and formatted the drive and installed XP instead. Still same error code.

Since Dell can't be bothered to help with their rubbish hardware, I'm hoping some kind soul might have the answer?


All Replies
  • Error code search came back with,

    The directory is not a subdirectory of the root directory.

    E1705 T7400 2.16Ghz / Vista Home Premium SP2 / 17" LG WUXGA 1920 X 1200 / 4GB 667Mhz Geil Ram w/Heatspreaders / Western Digital Scorpio Black 500GB 7200RPM / 500GB 7200RPM My Book / Nvidia Geforce Go 7900GS 256MB / Toshiba DVD/CD+/-RW DL / Intel 4965 A/B/G/N / 355 Bluetooth 2.0+EDR / Pinnacle Pro HDTV USB Tuner / Pinnacle Ultimate HDTV USB Tuner / Sound Blaster Audigy Advanced MB / Sound Blaster X-Fi Extreme Audio Notebook / Logitech G51 Surround Sound Speakers / 2-NB-MA01 Notebook Coolers / 3D Mark06 5446 / Driver v.174.31 /

    XPS M1730 Saphire Blue X9000 @ 3.2 / Vista Home Premium SP2 / 17" WUXGA 1920 x 1200 / Matshita BD\DVD Combo / 8GB 800Mhz Geil RAM / 500GB>200GB 7200RPM / 9800M GTX SLI / AGEIA PhysX Accelerator / Intel 4965 / 355 Bluetooth / 5700 Mobile Broadband / 3D Mark06 16250 /Driver 275.50 beta

    XPS Gen 4 Desktop>being rebuilt

  • Ok, thank you for that. Any idea what it means? I consider any folder on my hard drive to be a subdirectory of the root directory. By itself it's meaningless and offers no solution. Of course, this is a winphlash error, not a Windows error.

  • I have found the solution! I hope this helps others Googling for an answer. Instead of Winphlash actually telling you the real reason, it claims the BIOS is unflashable. That's not the case. It's refusing to flash the BIOS because the laptop is running from battery power. The answer for laptops working normally is to plug in the AC adaptor.

    Here's the trouble, though: if you're suffering the 'battery cannot be identified' fault, or perhaps also the 'AC adaptor cannot be determined' one (unsure about this one), you may be in the position where the battery does not charge and has depleted to no charge. My laptop won't start up without the battery, even though it was claiming it couldn't identify it (although I notice many 1501s will start up without battery...) and once Windows had booted, the battery meter was saying the battery was at 3% charge and discharging. Critically, although it was not running from battery (removing the AC adaptor caused the laptop to turn off instantly) the battery meter claimed it was running from battery power, which it wasn't. So, Winphlash thought it was and gave that error. My solution was to boot up with the battery in place, then remove it once Windows had loaded. It then switches to stating that it's running from the AC adaptor, even though you can't turn the laptop on with only the adaptor connected. Winphlash then flashes the BIOS normally with no error messages.

    I flashed the BIOS to 2.6.3 (from 2.6.1) and that has got rid of the battery cannot be identified message, but the battery still won't charge and the battery meter shows a cross through it, still claims it is running from battery power and shows the battery charge as 0%. I also tried flashing it with the original BIOS file 2.6.1 as suggested as a cure on another forum where it was said that a newer BIOS update didn't cure the problem, but flashing with the original version did. It hasn't worked for me. I now have no message about the battery but it won't charge. It's not a battery issue as this is the 2nd battery I've tried. Nor is it an AC adapter issue (I don't think) because that's also a new Dell original one and I get no messages about it at boot time. When I first tried the new battery, it had half a charge in it, and the laptop worked great but without the battery recharging the whole time.

    With this laptop, if you try and run it with the now dead battery installed, and the AC adaptor plugged in, the screen is very dull and then it turns the backlight off. I have to use the laptop with an external monitor connected. When the new battery was inserted and still had charge, the screen was bright and didn't go off. It seems that the screen problem only happens if it's running from adaptor without a charged battery in. I think it's because the laptop thinks it's running from what is essentially a dead battery, even though it's actually running from the AC adaptor (obviously) and as a consequence, it limits current drain and kills the backlight. It's as though it ignores the more than adequate juice coming from the adaptor, and just goes by the battery, behaving as though it's running from a low battery. It simply cannot be; the battery is absolutely dead.

    So, I'm out of ideas. Can only assume now that it's a motherboard issue.

  • Right click and run as administrator.

  • pcgeek11

    Right click and run as administrator.

    As you can see, I have already provided a solution to the error code -144. I am the administrator on my laptop, and regardless, I always turn off the annoying UAC in Vista, negating the necessity to right click and run as admin. Also, I have installed XP on my 1501 which has no such option anyway to run a program as administrator. If I recall correctly, trying to run it without choosing run as admin on a Vista computer with UAC turned on brings up error code 5 within Windows. Winphlash produces the error 144, which as stated, seems to point to the laptop running on battery power (it won't allow this for the obvious reason that battery may die part way through, rendering BIOS unusable, and hence laptop more waste for the rubbish mountains).

  • After hours and hours of frustration with trying to flash my 1501 BIOS, I found a solution.  It seems that not all solutions work for all folks, since I have googled and tried many proposed solutions.  So in the hopes that this works for others, here is what I did.  Don't ask me why it works, I don't have a clue.

    Download the BIOS update - in my case this was WIN15012563.exe

    Copy this file to a jump drive.  Locate the file in your jump drive and right-click on it and select "Run as Administrator".

    Wait for the process to complete. It will automatically re-boot once it finishes.  Good Luck.  I wish Dell would have more help for this issue.


  • I had the same issue. it all started with my power jack on the motherboard. I sent it off had a new Power Jack soldered on. No luck still would not charge or recognize

    my charger. I purchased a new charger for my computer. the Orginal charger is a PA-12 family.  The one i was sent is a PA-10 family.   the only difference is that the

    Amperage is stronger.  i dont remember the amperage of the PA-12 charger but the one i have now is 4.62A .   Well that didnt work. so I purchased a new motherboard

             After installing the new motherboard. I get the error  'AC adaptor cannot be determined'. After all the searching, I realized my bios version is 1.0.2

    so I attempt to install the latest BIOS version.   I would get the same Error as listed in earlier posts   Error Code 144.  Well I fixed that by having my computer on AC power and after Windows is up and running. Remove the battery and now i was able to update Bios.   BUT Still getting the same issue. I cannot charge my Battery or run it off of AC power.    

    If anybody knows how to fix this please let me know.  The only thing i have not done is purchase a new battery. I have already spent as much trying to fix this computer as i did when i purchased it.  

    I am not running Vista  I have WIndows XP Pro. installed. 

  • I am having the same troubles with my Inspiron 1501. I have purchased a new battery,  2 ac adapters, and flashed the BIOS. I do not get any errors messages but the battery will not charge past 3%. What could possibly be the problem now? I have windows vista as well. Not sure if it is my motherboard, vista, or hardware- nothing happened to the compuer it just one day quit charging and giving the same messages as mentioned in the thread. Please and Thank you for any solutions

  • I would find someone with another 1501 and start swapping parts.  Start with your battery.  If your battery will not charge on someone else's 1501 then you have identified your problem.  It is possible that although new, the battery may have been defective. If the battery and the AC adapters work on another 1501 then I think likely it is the port on the motherboard that accepts the AC adapter plug.  Does the plug fit nice and tight?  The ports are subject to a lot of abuse of yanking cords so this could be your problem.  The port is likely soldered to the motherboard, so replacement is not easy.  Good luck and let us know what you find out.



  • DGKPCON is right.   It's just the error message that isn't informative enough.   The message should say to run the BIOS updater from the root directory of your hard drive.   Just copy it to the root directory (folder)  and run it from there.  You should be on AC power as well.  It works from a flash drive as well, just leave the updater in the root directory and it runs.   It seems that without command line options passed to the updater, it automatically starts without letting you hit the browse buttons to get a fully qualified path on the front of the updated image file.  It must be stupidly written so it can't find the image file for the update step without it being told where it is.   When launched from the root, it finds the new image file and proceeds normally.  You should copy the BIOS.BAK file it leaves behind as that is a copy of the bios image you were running before it updated it...just in case you need to flash it back.

  • After sifting through all the information here my solution was:

    I started the laptop with the AC supply connected.

    I pulled the battery while the laptop was running.

    I ran the BIOS update - SUCCESS.

  • Thanks for your efforts, Gimpoid.  Based on your posts I booted with the dead battery installed, logged on, pulled the battery, and was able to update my BIOS.  It was the same version BIOS but apparently it did something; I no longer get the battery error on boot up.

    Inspiron 1501, Windows XP SP3, BIOS A16.  And I too would like to express disappointment--nay, disgust--with Dell for refusing to address this.

  • Thank You

    Thank You

    Thank You


    How would I have ever had figured this out...

    Thanks for saving me hours ..took me minutes thanks to you

  • I agree with the posting below.  I received a new battery from Dell made in China, when I plugged it in and attempted to charge, the laptop gave error -- battery not recognized.  Following the many posting, flashing the BIOS was the answer and although i used the service code to get the bios from, the WINPHLASH utility gave me the same error - BIOS not Flashable.  I called Dell and they were more interested in sending me a NEW MOTHERBOARD or hanging up rather than helping.  I then hung up myself - that's just ridiculous

    After reading the information below - which is ancient now, I inserted the old recognized battery back in, charged it overnight and flashed again - and lo and behold the flash completed normally and the new Dell battery works fine now.  

    Morale of the story, do your own research and help yourself because Dell is not going to do so, it doesn't matter that you remain a good customer and buy your consumables from Dell.   Dell probably makes more money on the battery than the laptop, but they rather concentrate on laptop warranty than keep happy customer coming back to buy more???

  • kaizenbob

    After sifting through all the information here my solution was:

    I started the laptop with the AC supply connected.

    I pulled the battery while the laptop was running.

    I ran the BIOS update - SUCCESS.