BIOS-Update 01.17.00 bricks HP Probooks 445 G7 and 455 G7

[German]Warning of an extremely unpleasant thing. Hewlett Packard (HP) has released a broken BIOS version that turns notebooks of the HP Probook 445 G7 455 G7 models from 2020 into expensive paperweights. You should not install the BIOS update 01.17.00 under any circumstances, as a reader told me.


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A reader contacted me

Chris, a long-time reader of my German blog, contacted me by email a few hours ago (thanks for the tip). The subject line "BIOS update 01.17.00 makes HP Probooks 445 G7 and 455 G7 completely unusable" of the e-mail signaled that there was a serious issue and that he had obviously fallen victim to this BIOS update. He thought that a warning might make more people aware of this issue and protect them from harm.

BIOS update for HP Probook 445 G7 and 455 G7 notebooks

According to Chris, he faces issues with the HP Probook 445 G7 and HP Probook 455 G7 notebooks from 2020, which he uses in his company. Two weeks ago, the HP Support Assistant suggested a firmware update to the BIOS. The HP Support Assistant is the HP support program for system information, software updates, etc. that is installed as standard.

The reader has followed the suggestion of the HP Support Assistant and has carried out a BIOS update from version 01.16.00 to version 01.17.00. This BIOS 01.17.00 update is intended to close a critical security gap, which was also listed by the Support Assistant as a critical update that should be installed as quickly as possible.

The device is bricked

According to the reader, the BIOS update installed as usual. But the screen remained black after the restart and the device was dead. Chris describes the error as follows: "When switching on, the keyboard lighting comes on and the fan starts up, but that's it. The notebook doesn't even make it to the BIOS beep."

The BIOS prevents the notebook from starting. According to the reader, the instructions for solving the problem from the HP support articles (hard reset etc.) did not work, the notebook is dead. It turned out that the BIOS update supplied by HP bricked the device. The update installation effectively turned the reader's notebook into a very expensive brick, as the reader wrote.


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Further cases on the web

Chris wrote that the whole thing is not an isolated case, as there are already pages of posts about it in the HP support forums.

Example and findings from the HP support forum

In the forum entry HP Probook BIOS Upgrade 1.17 failed from May 26, 2024, someone also describes that he started a BIOS update initiated by the HP Support Assistant on his HP Probook 455 G7. The person in question states that he has done this many times before. However, after this BIOS update, the computer remained stuck with a loud fan and a black screen. This is exactly the error description that Chris provided above.

The thread starter from the HP forum post then checked and found that no hotkey functions such as Windows-B or similar worked either. He then tried to flash the BIOS with the CH341A Black Edition tool. This was also unsuccessful, because the problem is that the firmware.bin file is not recognized as the correct BIOS file. This file has a size of 17757104 bytes, which is too large for the BIOS chip MX25L12872F, which can handle a maximum size of 16777216.

He spent a whole night on the problem and found out that the firmare.bin file provided by SP152753 is not a standard (U)EFI BIOS file. The UEFITool does not reconstruct the correct sections and does not find capsules that can be removed, the thread starter wrote.

He wrote that he needed a valid BIOS (U)EFI bin file for this computer to flash the BIOS with NeoProgrammer or similar. He then asked: How and where can I find this? The thread now has four pages in which other affected people confirm the problem.

HP removes BIOS and remains silent

I have browsed the above thread – HP has not yet provided an answer. Since the manufacturer has removed the BIOS from the download page in the meantime, the problem is known there. Chris wrote: "However, HP seems to be aware of the problem, as they have now removed the defective BIOS update 01.17.00 from their support website and also from the Support Assistant (the current version is BIOS 01.16.00 again)."

BIOS update via Windows update

The story becomes explosive because this update was not only distributed via download and HP Support Assistant. HP also pushes BIOS updates to the affected machines via Windows Update. In the HP forum thread, someone points this out and gives the advice to block the installation of BIOS updates in Windows Update.

Blocking is done in the BIOS settings via the native OS firmware update service. The "Native OS Firmware Update Service" setting is the primary mechanism for enabling or disabling the UEFI Capsule BIOS update on an HP client. If the default value is "Enable", the HP BIOS will accept updates from UEFI Capsule via Windows Update.

First media address the problem

Chris pointed out to me that Tom's Hardware has since addressed the issue in the article HP bricks ProBook laptops with bad BIOS delivered via automatic updates — many users face black screen after Windows pushes new firmware. While writing my blog post here, I also came across the article HP BIOS update renders some ProBook laptops expensive paperweights from The Register, where the above observation is also addressed. HP-Support lässt Nutzer allein

As long as the device is still under warranty, HP support has to respond. But Chris wrote to me: "And to top, the HP support team I contacted by phone said that there was nothing they could do because the device had unfortunately been out of warranty for 3 months. They could only give me an estimate for replacing the mainboard, which would probably be around €500."

To summarize: HP is actively pushing a proven defective BIOS update onto notebooks, destroying them and refusing to repair them with reference to the warranty that has just expired. A rogue who thinks evil of it.

There are repair approaches

I went through the forum post linked above – there is a post where someone writes that he was able to bring a bricked device (Probook 455 G7) back to life with the CH341A programmer:

Hello, I wanted to inform the community that I successfully revived one Probook 455 G7 using a CH341A programmer, but it involved me removing the chip from the motherboard. I detailed the process in another thread.

However, he had to remove the chip in question and then failed miserably with a second device. There, the Caps and Num LEDs flash 7 times, but the device does not start up. However, the forum participant was unable to find any useful information on this error code online.

Some users have saved the old BIOS files and uploaded them to the Internet. There is this post in the HP forum thread, which has uploaded the BIOS files to Google Drive.

Note: It's a security risk to download a BIOS .bin file from an unknown source. The better approach is try to download an older BIOS version from HP support pages.

According to this post, one user removed the SSD, put it in an external housing and was able to read it out on a second PC. All the data was there and he found all the previous BIOS bin files in a folder called SWSetup.

In this thread there are still some posts from people who have managed to flash the BIOS to an old version in a tricky way. It seems that the chip for the BIOS is write-protected and this has to be removed by various tricks (desoldering, disconnecting 3 volts, etc.).

The bottom line is that this is an absolute disaster for people who have a functional machine bricked by the BIOS update and HP does not supply a replacement because the device is out of warranty.

Similar articles:
Warning about Lenovo L15 Gen1 (AMD) BIOS 1.33
HP PC BIOS Security Updates (Feb. 2023)


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One Response to BIOS-Update 01.17.00 bricks HP Probooks 445 G7 and 455 G7

  1. EP says:

    Recently from Neowin – HP staff allegedly blames Microsoft's Windows Update as firmware bricks ProBooks

    https://www.neowin.net/news/hp-staff-allegedly-blames-microsofts-windows-update-as-firmware-bricks-probooks/

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