Phoenix WinPhlash utility: error -144

Putting this up there in case anyone else runs into this weird error. Also trying to write the text using all the search terms I used.

The BIOS for my Dell MIni 9 was at A04, and Dell have just released a newer version A05. So I downloaded it onto my machine from their support center and started the flashing process. The update uses Pheonix' WinPhlash program to flash the BIOS.

Actually let's back up. You download an executable, sure, but what it does is to unpack itself in some folder or other and then execute the WinPhlash program. This pops up the main window/dialog for the app but auto-executes it. You don't have to click the Flash Bios button at all. All great until, wham, I got an error dialog stating that the BIOS was not flashable. Exclamation mark. Error -144.

The error dialog said to view the help file for troubleshooting (and there was the button for it in the dialog underneath), but on clicking the OK button for the error dialog, the program just went away. Nice.

So I went to find the folder into which the app had been unpacked (by default, C:\Windows\Temp\WINPHLASH) and ran the WinPhlash.exe app manually. And then went back and ran it as Administrator, for of course it wouldn't run otherwise. Clicked on the Help button to view the help file. Said help file of course had absolutely no troubleshooting page, let alone a list of error numbers and descriptions. I know, because I viewed every page in the help. Completely useless. Thanks, Phoenix Technologies.

So I googled for a while, varying my search terms, and eventually came across a hint that the error meant that you shouldn't flash while on battery power. You should only flash the BIOS when plugged into a power socket.

And, by gum, it was right. I plugged my fully-charged Mini 9 into a power socket and the flashing process went off without a hitch. So error -144 means "Plug your laptop in to flash the BIOS". The BIOS is flashable, just not on battery power.

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16 Responses

#1 kunmoni said...
26-Jul-09 11:59 PM

many thks. i spent 2h after upgrading my mini on win7 and got the same issue...quite easy solution but not logical at all.

#2 Alex said...
29-Oct-09 5:09 PM

Tks!!!! I spent a lot of time before reading it!

#3 Kyle said...
13-Jul-10 8:01 PM

I have an alienware m17x , and i am trying to get to A05, but i get this error... thing is... my laptop is plugged in...

julian m bucknall avatar
#4 julian m bucknall said...
13-Jul-10 8:31 PM

Kyle: Can't help you there I'm afraid, apart from asking whether the laptop actually recognizes that the power adapter is plugged in and supplying juice. Maybe there's an intermittent physical/hardware problem?

Cheers, Julian

#5 Leon Romeeo said...
14-Aug-10 1:35 PM

thanks you very match!

#6 Edwin Mary said...
23-Sep-10 12:00 PM

Like Kyle, my power adapter will not charge the notebook when switched on. It only charges while the notebook on on sleep mode on when switched off. So I'm in a quagmire as to how to update the BIOS. Suggestions will be appreciated.


#7 hai said...
29-Dec-10 6:03 PM

My laptop runs on AC adapter, battery has been detached, this solution does not fix mine.

what else?

julian m bucknall avatar
#8 julian m bucknall said...
30-Dec-10 1:01 PM

All: I have one machine which has a Phoenix BIOS that is flashable with WinPhlash. The solution to the scenario I described above worked for me 18 months ago. I offer no guarantee that it will work for you with anything other than a Dell Mini 9, flashing from A04 to A05. I can't generalize to any other BIOS, any other machine, any other configuration, any other manufacturer, because I just don't own them. Heck, I haven't even used the Mini 9 for over six months anyway.

So, if this solution doesn't work for you, I really can't help. It's pointless asking me; you should be asking your PC manufacturer or Phoenix.

Cheers, Julian

#9 Johannes said...
25-Mar-13 8:05 AM

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.

#10 Ale said...
03-Jun-14 8:36 PM


#11 Atech said...
22-Dec-14 2:30 AM

I found on my Dell Vostro 1710..

Disconnect the battery

Plug in AC adapter and boot Vista

Load Bios A12 from WinPhlash

No error code !!


Re-Boot and it now charges the battery and see`s the AC adapter!

#12 duane0918 said...
19-Oct-15 10:02 PM

late to the party... but thx for the post...

I found this site while googling for a fix for the -144 error while using WinFlash in xp to update clients old Dell Vostro 1000 BIOS from 2.5.2 to 2.6.3 b4 upgrading to Win7. Never thought to check for 3rd party battery installed & not charging. (always ran w/ AC adapter). 01. Booted to xp (with charger connected). 02. Removed the battery( now "power meter" in control panel says "current pwr source=AC Power). 03. Ran WinPhlash. 04. Updated BIOS ok to 2.6.3, No -144 error! 05. hopefully a new battery will charge w/ updated bios.

Thanx Johannes for the info...

#13 Rbe26_99 said...
25-Oct-15 1:16 PM

I have same issue with dell studio17. But however I have tried to do all the things I have read up on and with battery in I get 144 message about battery when I take battery out I get 144 message about power adapter and still wont let me flash bios IDFK what else I can do.

#14 Johnson said...
11-May-20 11:22 AM

I tried all kind of things, even the DOS version of the flash software, 32-bit OS, 64-bit OS, no luck.

I removed the battery from my dell, right after a fresh installation of Windows (XP Pro 32-bit).

It worked right away.

My battery was recognized, but did not charge (probably dead). My AC adapter in the original BIOS stated 'None' (aftermarket).

Hope this helps someone.

#15 Tracy said...
10-Jul-20 8:26 AM

In units where the battery is faulty or weak or dead-- you MUST remove it for the Winplash to run.

Thanks for NOTHING Dell.

I've never purchased another from them and told EVERYONE to stay away. I still do-- because even though they knew- they couldn't give a rat's-patootie. F-you, Dell.

#16 Gorka said...
29-Aug-22 9:44 AM

Hola Julián.

Mil gracias por tu artículo, me salvó la vida y me ahorró mucho tiempo.


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