HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer Build and BIOS Modification Revisited




Early last year I purchased my first HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer (“MicroServer”) and wrote about some of the things I did to build-out my MicroServer after flashing the modified BIOS from BIOS-MODS. After building-out my second MicroServer that summer and the many things I’ve learned over the last year I felt it was time to re-visit and re-fresh my first Blog.



HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

Check the Stock BIOS

Flashing the BIOS

Step-By-Step Guide

     Step-By-Step Guide – Critical Path Check List

Modifying the BIOS



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HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

The HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer’s I purchased came with 2GB of RAM, a 250GB Seagate HDD, and a 150W power supply. One was part of a combo package that included Windows Home Server 2011.


Check the Stock BIOS

One thing I found useful: With my first MicroServer I didn’t check out the Stock BIOS in the MicroServer before flashing it and afterwards I wished I had — before flashing the BIOS of my second MicroServer I pulled the HDD that came with the MicroServer and the first time I powered-up the MicroServer I hit F10 and checked out what was in the Stock BIOS.


In summary, when I first powered-up and hit F10 the MicroServer was configured with:

· The stock HDD was removed (no HDD’s were in the MicroServer)

· The Stock 2GB RAM was in the MicroServer

· No PCIe cards were installed

· A monitor, USB keyboard & mouse was attached to the MicroServer

· Nothing else was attached to the USB ports

· The NIC was not plugged into the network


Figure 1 shows the MAIN screen of the Stock BIOS.



Figure 1: MicroServer “ROM-BASED SETUP UTILITY” Main Screen — Stock BIOS


Flashing the BIOS

Caution: This isn’t a project for the inexperienced or faint of heart because you may be voiding any warranty you have as well as easily destroying or bricking your entire system. Proceed with the steps in the following reference links and Figures at your own risk.


In the original HP MicroServer N40L Build and BIOS Modification I wrote how I flashed the modified BIOS from BIOS-MODS to my first MicroServer using John Zajdler’s, @DieHarder on twitter, Diehard in the HomeServershow.com forums, guide and suggestions. DieHard is a rock star! I followed his notes and suggestions and had no problem flashing BIOS-MODS modified BIOS that would unlock many of the hidden features on the MicroServer – especially enabling me to set SATA port 5 (the mother board port for the ODD (“Optical Disk Drive”) if installed) and port 4 (the eSATA port on the back of the case) to AHCI and at a higher port speed than it’s default. At that time I downloaded HP’s SoftPaq from cvscorp, prepared a bootable flash drive and copied the file over from BIOS-MODS. Since that time the Forum thread started by DieHard has grown, as of this writing, to over 15 pages and 290 messages and continues to grow.

When issues surfaced on cvscorp’s availability last year DieHard made copies of the necessary files available from his SkyDrive account (Get Flash.Zip & SP54344.exe).

With the Flashing of the BIOS for my second MicroServer I wanted to document my experience and put together a step-by-step guide that was all in one place, starting with the original HP BIOS.


Step-By-Step Guide

At HP’s webpage, Systems ROMPaq Firmware Upgrade for HP ProLiant MicroServer (For USB Key-Media), download the file SP54344.exe to your laptop or desktop (I used my Windows 7 Professional Desktop Machine) and follow HP’s instructions to create a USB that can flash your BIOS.

HP Installation Instructions (changes made to improve clarity, check the WEB Page above for the original full text):

USB Key – HPQUSB.exe is a Windows-based utility to locally partition, format and copy necessary files to a USB flash media device (“USB Key”) through the Windows environment. The created USB Key is made bootable and ready to locally restore and/or update the firmware (“BIOS”) on the system.

1. Obtain a formatted USB Key.

2. Download the SoftPaq to a directory on a Microsoft Windows system and change to that directory.

3. From that drive and directory, execute (Figure 2) the downloaded SoftPaq file: Simply double click on the SP54344.exe file and follow the installation wizard to complete the SoftPaq installation process. At the end of a successful installation of the SoftPaq a web page will automatically appear to provide you with a link (Figure 3) to create a USB Key – alternatively, after the successful installation of the SoftPaq you could change to the directory the SoftPaq was installed to (default is C:\SWSetup\SP54344) and either execute start.htm in that directory or HPQUSB.exe in either C:\SWSetup\SP54344\Flat Files or C:\SWSetup\SP54344\USB Key directories.

If you followed HP’s instructions (above) you would have created a USB Key for re-installing the factory BIOS currently on your N40L. This may be handy to have on a spare USB key, so set it aside and create a second USB Key with the Factory BIOS installed on it.

That first USB Stick that you created and set aside can be used as your System Recovery Key if you’re system should fail to Boot after attempting to Flash the BIOS.



Figure 2: Executing SP54344.exe — just follow the wizard for SoftPaq Installation



Figure 3: Web Page that appears at end of SP54344.exe SoftPaq installation — click Launch HP USB Key Setup Creation Utility – HPQUSB.exe



Figure 4: HPQUSB.exe HP USB Key Setup Creation Utility Startup Screen showing the creation of two different USB Keys that worked



Figure 5: Two USB Keys (Flash Disk & USB Drive) have been prepared by HPQUSB.exe and are ready to flash the Factory BIOS



Figure 6: File Explorer Detail View of USB Drive showing 11 Files with System Files Hidden then File Explorer Detail View of USB Drive showing 15 Files with System Files Un-Hidden — Prepared by HPQUSB.EXE in Figures 2-5 above on 1/31/2013



Figure 7: File Explorer Detail View of Flash Disk showing 8 Files with System Files Hidden then File Explorer Detail View of Flash Disk showing 11 Files with System Files Un-Hidden — Prepared by HPQUSB.EXE in Figures 2-5 above on 1/31/2013


Note: I don’t know why the USB Drive and the Flash Disk file counts are different but they both worked.


To flash the Modified BIOS (“BIOS-MOD”) you need to first get the BIOS-MOD — you can follow DieHard’s link to BIOS-MODS thread for the HP Proliant Microserver AMI BIOS-MOD and in Post: #5 of that thread Camiloml attached the file that you can download, o41072911mod.rar, or just click on this direct link to the zipped file o41072911mod.rar — o41072911mod.rar is what you want. Un-zip it with Winzip or some other SW package and you’ll have the file o41072911mod.rom, thanks to the hard work of the people at BIOS-MODS!


Rename o41072911mod.rom to o41072911.rom. Replace the file O41072911.ROM on your second USB Key created by HP with o41072911.rom – (IMPORTANT: the ROM file begins with the letter Oh, NOT the number Zero – this simple error has been the genesis of many crash and burns during attempted Flashs. Another big danger is a power interruption to the MicroServer during the Flash – attach your MicroServer it to a Uninterruptible Power Supply (“UPS”) if one is available during the Flash. Another common problem has been an incompatible or just plain bad USB Key. For other failures or issues check HP’s Troubleshooting guides.) The uncompressed o41072911.rom is also in Diehard’s SkyDrive folder Flash.

Now, with your USB Key with the BIOS-MOD ROM file replacing the Stock/factory BIOS ROM (notice the file names were the same and they are the same size) you can flash your BIOS per HP’s instructions: “Insert this USB Key into the USB Key port of the system to be updated and power the system on to boot to the USB Key”. I created my USB Key with the BIOS-MOD on my Windows 7 Pro Desktop Machine. I’ve used 2 different Lexar 8GB sticks, a Team Fusion Plus 8GB stick, 2 no-name complementary 0.5GB sticks from an Alumni group, and 1 no-name 1GB stick I got at a trade show – all worked for me.


In preparation to Flash with the BIOS-MOD I had the MicroServer in the following configuration:

· The stock HDD was removed (no HDD’s were in the MicroServer)

· The Stock 2GB RAM was in the MicroServer

· No PCIe cards were installed

· A monitor, USB keyboard & mouse was attached to the MicroServer

· Nothing else was attached to the USB ports

· The NIC was not plugged into the network


With the MicroServer turned off I inserted the USB Key, the one I had created with the BIOS-MOD added, into the top USB Port on the front of the MicroServer and, after plugging in the power cord, I turned on the MicroServer.

NOTE: The process will begin instantly: If the USB Key is in a USB port on the MicroServer when you power it on – the whole process is automatic – as soon as the USB Key is seen during POST the MicroServer will begin to flash your BIOS – and will need roughly a minute or more to complete the process and finish to the C:\> prompt.


This is how the process went for me (times in seconds) after first checking that all plugs and cables were connected:

_0sec   Press power button to energize the MicroServer
10         HP ProLiant MicroServer Splash Screen
13         Splash Screen Blanks out
15         BIOS Starts initializing Processor, USB Controllers
20         2GB Memory detected
25         Auto-detecting USB Mass Storage Devices
28         Screen Blanks out
30         Screen Flash then blanks out
32         Post Prompts displays – dots count across screen to 35 Sec Mark
37         Copyright Screen displays and indicates config.sys/autoexec.bat are about to execute
39         DOS Command Shell copyright displays and loading ROM Image notice displays
42         Screen fills with characters
46         C:\> is displayed at bottom of screen


The Flash of my second HP MicroServer with BIOS-MOD was complete at the 46 second mark.

Caution: DO NOT power down the MicroServer before you see the prompt.

After you’ve powered down the MicroServer then power it back up (or simply hit Cntl-Alt-Del to restart the MicroServer) and hit the F10 Key to get into the BIOS and check out the new things that are visible.

The MAIN screen of the Modified BIOS from BIOS-MOD will appear as shown in Figure 8.



Figure 8: MicroServer “ROM-BASED SETUP UTILITY” MAIN Screen — Modified BIOS


Notice the difference between Figure 8 and the Stock BIOS shown in Figure 1 with the additional BIOS Tabs of PCIPnP and Chipset. BIOS-MOD doesn’t modify the Stock BIOS except to make visible code that was already in the Stock BIOS but had been hidden.



Step-By-Step Guide – Critical Path Check List

Caution: This isn’t a project for the inexperienced or faint of heart because you may be voiding any warranty you have as well as easily destroying or bricking your entire system. Proceed with the steps in the following reference links and Figures at your own risk.


______ 1. Get Systems ROMPaq Firmware file SP54344.exe from HP HERE

______ 2. Get BIOS-MOD o41072911.rom from BIOS-MOD HERE or BIOS-MOD HERE or BIOS-MOD HERE or Diehard’s SkyDrive folder HERE

______ 3. Change to directory where you downloaded or copied SP54344.exe in step #1.

______ 4. Double-Click to Execute SP54344.exe – follow installation wizard to create a bootable USB Key (for best practice for disaster recovery create an extra).

______ 5. Copy o41072911.rom (that you got in #2) to USB Key (from #4) – you will want to replace the original O41072911.rom from HP

______ 6. Move the USB Key (from #5) to any available USB port on the MicroServer.

______ 7. Turn on the MicroServer and wait for the C:\> prompt.

______ 8. Remove the USB key — Reboot or power cycle the MicroServer and hit F10 to enter the ROM-BASED SETUP UTILITY – success will look like Figure 8.



Modifying the BIOS

Starting from the MAIN screen shown in Figure 8 above and using information I had found at Message #1217 and NAS Build Guide I moved through a number of screens to set Ports 4 & 5 to use AHCI and set all Ports to be external SATA Ports (basically enable hot swap).

From the MAIN Screen I went to => Chipset Menu => Southbridge Configuration => SB SATA Configuration => and set the following:

OnChip SATA Channel [Enabled]

OnChip IDE Type [IDE or Legacy IDE](1)

SATA IDE Combined Mode [Disabled] — sets Ports 4 & 5 to use AHCI

SATA EPS on all PORT [Enabled](2) — sets all Ports to be external SATA Ports

SATA Power on all PORT [Enabled]

Notes: (1) OnChip IDE Type can be set to IDE or Legacy IDE – I have one MicroServer (WHS-2011) set to IDE (see Figure 9) and the other (S2012E) set to Legacy IDE (see Figure 10) and haven’t noticed a performance difference between the two, YMMV; (2) setting all Ports to be external SATA Ports will make all of your Ports to be Hot Swappable – this is something you would need later if you want to use the Port Multiplier functionality of the eSATA Port (Port #4) – there are registry hacks that will remove the hot swap functionality from specific Ports but I didn’t bother, again YMMV. A link to the steps outlined by Alex to enable the Port Multiplier on the eSATA port can be found in Useful MicroServer links and References that highlights the necessary posts to read in the thread Successfully enabled Port Multiplier on eSATA. Depending on your planned setup you may not want to Disable SATA IDE Combined ModeLoneWolf found that disabling SATA IDE Combined Mode also disable the ability for the MicroServer to see his HP Smart Array P410 Hardware RAID controller. YMMV.



Figure 9: “OnChip SATA Configuration” Configuration OnChip IDE Type [IDE]



Figure 10: “OnChip SATA Configuration” Configuration OnChip IDE Type [Legacy IDE]


Finishing up my modifications in the OnChip SATA Configuration screen I returned to the MAIN screen. From the MAIN Screen I next went to => Advanced => IDE Configuration => and set the following:

Embedded SATA Link Rate [3.0Gbps Max] — forces the SATA Ports to run at 3.0Gbps Max mode



Figure 11: Forcing Embedded SATA Link Rate to 3.0Gbps MAX


Be sure to SAVE your changes when you EXIT the ROM-BASED SETUP UTILITY!



After flashing the BIOS-MOD and making a few minor changes in the BIOS I was ready to add additional RAM, OS drive and OS, internet cable connection to the onboard NIC, data drives, PCIe cards and many more things to this great little box. Currently, I have one MicroServer in production with WHS-2011 (Figure 12) for my home files management and providing a bare metal backup of my client computers.



Figure 12: HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer and Server Backup Drive connected to Power Meter (reading 64.1W)


Parts List of MicroServer (my First MicroServer) Current Configuration in Figure 12

· HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer with 1GB RAM and 250GB HDD – Combo offer with MS WHS-2011 – after flashing the Modified BIOS the Stock 2GB RAM was replaced with the Kingston (below) – the Stock 250GB HDD is not being used in this configuration

· MicroSoft Windows Home Server 2011 64-b

· Kingston 8GB KVR1333D3E9SK2/8G

· WD PCIe USB 3.0 Card

· Icy Dock DuoSwap MB971SP-B

· 18” SATA Cable – I used straight ends not angled but any quality cable should work ok

· eSATA to SATA Cable – Tripp Lite Model P952-18I 18” SATA to eSATA

· Adaptor: StarTech 6” 4-Pin Molex to SATA 15-pin Power Cable

· OS Drive: Crucial M4 256GB SSD

· Data Drives: 5*ST3000DM001 – 4 in Main Drive cage and 1 on top in the DuoSwap

· Server Backup Drive: WD20EADS in a Rosewill RX35-AT-SU3 USB 3.0 External Enclosure – because of WHS-2011 Server backup limitation to 2TB only critical data is backed up to the external drive.

· StableBit DrivePool — Folder duplication turned on for all Server Shares

· StableBit Scanner

· Allway Sync Pro – keeps all Server Shares sync’d to another Server

A place to start reading up on the many capabilities and possibilities of the MicroServer is the page of Useful MicroServer Links & References. Next check out the threads at HP MicroServer for answers to just about all questions about MicroServers, but if you don’t find a thread addressing your specific issue be sure to start a new thread and list your question.



· HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer Tear-Down

· HP MicroServer N40L Build and Bios Modification <= The Original

· Installing Windows Home Server 2011 on a SSD in a HP MicroServer

· A Look at Seagate’ FreeAgent GoFlex 4TB External Disk Drive & Western Digital’s USB 3.0 PCIe Card in a MicroServer

· The Icy Dock 5.25” Hot Swap Drive Caddy for a 2.5” and a 3.5” SATA Drive – DuoSwap MB971SP-B in a MicroServer

· Installing Windows Server 2012 Essentials on a HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

· Storage Spaces Performance in Windows Server 2012 Essentials on a HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

· Modified BIOS for MicroServer N40L Enables Hidden Features – This is DieHard’s Forum Thread that started everything – This thread is worth taking the time to read in its entirety – lots of valuable information including information about capabilities in the BIOS exposed by the BIOS-MOD like S3 and USB 3.0 that are NOT available/supported in the hardware – read the thread.

· More Interesting MicroServer Links – This Forum Thread has important links to information and Video’s – take the time to check out all the links – lots of valuable information.


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Category: Hard Drives, HP Microserver, SSD, Windows Home Server, Windows Home Server 2011

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patrick's avatarpatrick · 26 weeks ago

How come my rom on the usb created is showing as O41011711.ROM and not the one you’ve listed above?

Joe_Miner's avatarJoe_Miner · 26 weeks ago

Hi Patrick! What you have with O41011711.ROM is the 2 version older copy of the BIOS dated 2011.01.17(A) which was updated to Version 2011.04.02(A) and finally updated to Version 2011.07.29(A) which is the current version that the BIOS-MODS is based on. The easiest thing would be to download the CURRENT HP Factory BIOS (Link in Blog Above) and Use that to Create your USB Key with O41072911.ROM on it and then copy your BIOS-MOD o41072911.ROM over it to Flash your MicroServer. HP’s Current Factory BIOS is at http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/…

Join us in the Forums and let me know how your MicroServer BIOS Flash went http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum…

Thanks for catching that!

Thanks for the guide, Joe! Have flashed my N40L bios and adjusted the settings as you’ve described.

However, is that enough to make it safe to hotswap the drives from a hardware/power point of view (after unmounting/sleeping, of course)? Or does that just mean that I have the ability to do so *if* I get those special hotswap brackets with individual power switches?


Joe_Miner's avatarJoe_Miner · 25 weeks ago

I’ve only tried it with inserting drives to be initialized and that was too exciting for me. I didn’t feel comfortable with it. The advantage I saw with the hot-swap capability is that it adds the ability of eSATA port multiplying http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic…

Morten Nielsen's avatarMorten Nielsen · 25 weeks ago

Please remember that turning all SATA ports to Hotplug will disable drive caching, which means a potential rather steep perfromance degrade.

I have 2 N40L where I have modded one bios, and I must admit, I really can’t find anything to make it usefull. If you really need hotplug, I’d suggest getting an USB3.0 usb port.

Forcing a SATA port to run 3GB/s is just inviting disaster, if the controller on the drive mismatch a tiny tad with the HP controller. If they do talk together, they should figure out 3GB/s anyway.


Joe_Miner's avatarJoe_Miner · 24 weeks ago


Thank you for your comments. If you could join us in the forums and tell us about your research I’m sure many would appreciate it. I certainly would like to know more!




Ryan's avatarRyan · 23 weeks ago

Joe, THANK YOU!!!!!!

Jeremy's avatarJeremy · 23 weeks ago

Hi Joe,

I hope you can help as I’ve been scratching my head for a while on this now.

When I come to run the HPQUSB.exe tool I then check my USB key I only have the following folders.


I’m a little bit stuck if I should continue or what else I should do? I have followed the instructions step by step so I’m 100% confident I have everything right. The only thing I could think which may cause this that I’m running bootcamp?



3 replies · active 23 weeks ago


Joe_Miner's avatarJoe_Miner · 23 weeks ago

BootCamp? Does that mean you created the USB Key on a Mac?

Did your Flash work?

Let us know how you are doing in the Forums: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum…


john's avatarjohn · 18 weeks ago

Excellent guide thank you for the time put in, worked perfectly

Joe_MIner's avatarJoe_MIner · 18 weeks ago

Thank you John for your kind comment! When you get a chance join us in the Forums and tell us about your set-up!

Paul's avatarPaul · 17 weeks ago

Thanks for this wrote up, my HP Proliant server is running great using an SSD drive for os and in AHCII mode:)

devryguy81's avatardevryguy81 · 17 weeks ago

Hi all. I have found quite a bit of this info useful, but I still have questions. I have the N54L loaded up with 16GB RAM, 4x160GB HDs and the 1 250GB that comes with it. I loaded ESXi 5.1 from a USB key and began installing VMs. Because ESXi doesn’t see the “fake” software RAID, I resorted to installing 1 OS per HD just to get up and running so I could play around. How might I better configure things so that I can take advantage of RAID and run a small test network (Server 2008 R2 / Win7 / WinXP). I have 5 VMs right now. Is there also a way I can retain my current VMs after reconfiguring the storage?

Joe_Miner's avatarJoe_Miner · 17 weeks ago

Hi Devryguy81! I’m not an ESXi user but there are a number in the Forums. I’d suggest you post your Q there to get some good ideas on configuration. Start in http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum… but also check out the threads http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?app=co…

Phil's avatarPhil · 17 weeks ago

Worked a treat, install my New OS on my new SSD right now :-)

ads's avatarads · 17 weeks ago

Hi Guys
Just got a N54L and looking to move the Os disk into the area under where the Optical disk would be and keep the 4 drive bays free for Data. I using it mainly to stream video to my media centre and pc backups using server essentials 2012. What effect would i have if i did not do the bios hack and run the os disk through the optical sata port. Would i see appalling performance/is this possible without the hack

Joe_Miner's avatarJoe_Miner · 16 weeks ago

Hi Ads! You should be OK if you don’t plan to use a higher performance HDD or a SSD and if you don’t need the PortMultiplier on the eSATA Port.

Without the BIOS-MOD the Ports 4 & 5 (i.e. the eSATA Port and the SATA Port on the System Board) are locked to a SATA I max speed or 150MB Read & Write. So Drives like the Stock 250 in the MicroServer or any older HDD’s will not push that Max. If you wanted to use a performance drive like a Velocity Raptor, WD Black, or the newer Seagates then you will clamped at the lower performance. With a SSD not only would you be clamped at the lower speed but without AHCI you wouldn’t have trim which will further degrade your SSD performance over time.

If you want to use RAID off of the System board you’d be precluded from doing the BIOS-MOD — a better option then might be to go with a P410.

Hope this helps. Join us in the Forums for more questions and tell us about your setup with the N54L.

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