Updated 11/04/2012: If you can still boot into Windows, see Aspire One Black Screen of Death – Part 2 for a new utility from Acer that makes an update to the BIOS on a working Aspire One a lot easier.
Based on the amount of traffic this post still gets, and other sites with articles describing the same problem & solution, there are still lots of Aspire One users who continue to have the same problem, I’ve updated the instructions, with my comments below, and a provided a download of the last BIOS file from Acer’s site, with the BIOS file renamed and in the Dos_Flash directory to make easier & faster to get your netbook running again.
Updated 04/26/2010: After doing this a few times and reading some of the user comments, I’ve realized that you don’t need to use UNetbootin. It won’t hurt anything, just a couple extra steps.
After a normal restart yesterday, my Aspire One booted into just a black screen. No POST, no BIOS, no hard drive light activity, just the power button LED on and the fan running fast. I was not very happy…
I went to the Acer Aspire One User Forum and started looking thru the Hardware section. I found this thread Dead aspire one and it looked like many others had a similar experience. After reading many stories of warranty repair or replacement, I was just about to dig up my receipts when I found this post: Re: Dead aspire one.
It seems that a lot of people had success reflashing the BIOS from a USB drive using tools provided by Acer. I don’t know if it’s officially supported by Acer or if it will void your warranty, but if the computer’s a paperweight now anyway, what the hell?
It’s very easy to do, but the steps are a bit unclear so here’s my attempt to make the whole thing painless. This worked for me, but it might not for you, so do this at your own risk.
- A working USB thumbdrive you can erase. I used an old 64meg.
UNetbootin. Download from here: http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ The files to flash the BIOS. I used the most recent version from here: http://macles.blogspot.com/p/acer-aspire-one-bios.html
Download all the files to an easy to find location.
Steps to prepare the USB drive:
- Format the USB drive using the FAT file system, not FAT32.
Start UNetbootin and choose FreeDOS as the distribution. Screenshot here.
- Unzip the BIOS files and copy them to the USB drive
- Make a copy of the BIOS file and rename it as ZG5IA32.FD (this appears to be very important – my reflash failed until I did the copy & rename)
Reflash the BIOS:
- Make sure the AAO is turned off, the battery is attached and the power adaptor is plugged in.
- Insert the USB drive
- Press and hold FN + ESC and press the power button to turn it on. Release the Fn & ESC keys. The LED in the power button will flash.
- Press the power button again once and wait. Mine took ~3 minutes, but I’d advise that you let it sit there for at least 5 minutes just in case your’s takes longer.
When the reflashing is done, the AAO will reboot and, hopefully, you’ll be back to normal.
If it doesn’t work, try reflashing again. The keypress sequence is a little tricky.
If the second try doesn’t work, then you’ll probably have to send it off for repair.
Credit and a boatload of thanks to
macles.blogspot.com for the instructions I found and hosting the BIOS files!
Original instruction from macles:
Acer Aspire One BIOS Recovery
Updated instructions from Acer’s site (with comments):
Updating the BIOS will require a USB flash drive (formatted to FAT or FAT32) to store the BIOS information on during the update. To perform the update to the BIOS: (The smaller your flash drive, the better. I’ve used 1 gig and smaller drives successfully)
- From the support home page, click Netbook and select your product.
- Click confirm.
- Click on the BIOS tab and download and extract the latest BIOS for the netbook. (or download my version here: BIOS_ACER_3310_Windows_AOA110 & AOA150 MODIFIED. Both Acer’s & my files are zipped, so you’ll have to unzip them before you can do anything. Double clicking on the file should unzip them automatically.)
- The files required will be in the Dos_Flash subdirectory.
- Rename the BIOS file from 3310.fd to zg5ia32.fd. (the modified version above already has the renamed file in the Dos_Flash directory)
- Copy zg5ia32.fd and Flashit.exe to the USB flash drive
- Ensure that the AC adapter is plugged in.
- Insert the USB flash drive into a USB port.
- Press and hold down the Fn and the Esc keys together and press the power button.
- When the netbook’s power light comes on, wait a few seconds and release the Fn and Esc keys.
- After the keys have been released the power light will start to blink.
- During the BIOS update process the display will be blank.
- Let the unit run and after approximately 1 to 7 minutes, the unit should reboot and the BIOS will be updated. (typically ~3 minutes)