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I had some virus/spyware problems awhile back and was able to get everything up and running again. Everything is perfect except when the system boots, the splash screen has a line of garbage across the screen above the DELL startup screen (it's a 4550). I can only assume something got goofy in the bios as it's the first screen that comes on. Is it advisable to re-flash a bios with the same version? It's only a minor annoyance so I don't want to take too large a risk to fix it.
 

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A bios flash is not difficult however if done incorrectly, you can render your board unbootable. It is up to you as to whether or not you want to attempt a bios flash. If you are going to flash the bios, you might want to use the newest one from dell.

In any case make sure you fully understand the flashing instructions before attempting this task.
 

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Did you have this problem before the virus/spyware problem? Viruses or spyware that affect the BIOS are rare.

Before I took the chance of reflashing the BIOS I would reset BIOS by removing the CMOS battery. Since the machine is fairly old if you remove the battery I would replace the battery with a new CR2032 battery since they are cheap and see if that solves your problem.
 
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