Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

Laptop Cmos and Hard Drive Passwords The Whole Truth

So many people are fooled by the helpful novice PC Tech who just learned how to install ram into his antique hand me down laptop.

Fooled into believing that a simple removal of the Laptop Cmos battery can reset the Bios and wipe out all passwords.

Well it can't !!

Try as you might, jumping the battery contacts, leaving the Cmos battery out for a day, a week, a month, a YEAR will not Reset your Bios password!

The same applies for the hard drive for different reasons.
The only way that gets fixed is by sending it back to the manufacturer and paying some good hard cash. I have personally seen PC bench techs in my own company Crowing I CAN DO IT! Only to see them reduced to blubbering red eyed zombies many days later.

Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM started selling notebooks with trusted computing hardware some years ago, which locks specialized encryption keys in a data vault, essentially a chip on the computer's motherboard. This Is NOT the Bios Chip, it is separate and not easily found identified or hacked.

Lets summarize what we have so far.

1. No, you can't reset a Bios password on a Laptop with a simple Bios battery reset.
2. No, you can't reset a laptop hard drive locked with a password unless you access Bios on that same motherboard which is of course also locked with the security chip.

What you CAN do,

The case for Dell Laptop Security Chips, problem and solution.

Most laptop or notebook computers feature enhanced BIOS security, and BIOS passwords on laptops are hard to bypass. Several companies offer laptop security chip services that can be used to bypass the BIOS password on Dell laptops or notebooks and reset the security. They can provide a master password from the Dell Service Tag of your Dell laptop. This master password will allow you to bypass the existing password and enter the BIOS and reset the unknown password. To generate the master password they need to know the Dell Service Tag of your unit. Dell Master Password Recovery does not require soldering or disassembly of the laptop and supports most Dell models.

Dell BIOS passwords can also be reset by replacing the laptop security chip. Passwords can also be recovered from security chips that have been removed from laptop or notebook systems. These passwords may be required to attempt to unlock protected hard disks. Passwords recovered from these chips are the original BIOS passwords and may be the same as the hard disk password, but are not guaranteed to be the same and may not unlock the hard disk.These are usually damaged in the process of recovering the passwords and are not suitable for replacement into a computer.

The case for Fujitsu

Fujitsu has been leading the charge on a new generation of secure devices, as that is becoming more and more a concern not just for companies, but for individuals, who now store sensitive data on their laptops more than ever before.
The new security setup, co-developed with Willcom, consists of a special receiver and an encrypted hard drive. The decryption codes are kept on the receiver chip, and the hard drive can’t be accessed without them. So under normal operation everything is just peachy. But let’s say you get your bag stolen at a coffee shop, that’s when the fun begins.
The chip is always on whether the laptop is, and is always connected (as long as there’s coverage) to Willcom’s PHS network. You can tell it to do one of two things: lock the PC so it can’t boot, or delete the decryption key, rendering the hard drive totally unreadable.

So you see the risks with just two brands of notebook here.
You must decide if that 300 to 1500 dollar laptop is worth all this bother.

Before you decide to lock your Bios or Hard Drive with a password, you'd best be sure that you have a great memory, or the ability to securely store that password in such a way and such a place that it can't be lost.

For those who have received a laptop from a friend, bought one off of Ebay, or simply had it land in your PC shop with a password this word of warning applies. Verify that the person you got it from is the original owner or take the risk that utilities such as Dells theft deterrent program will send out information about you to the authorities. The watchword here is, If you have the Laptop, you must be guilty.

No, A laptop motherboard is not just like a Desktop motherboard squeezed into a smaller space. They are two different types of electronics entirely, right down to the processor. While some Older models of laptop can use a standard Desktop Processor, they still won't have the same replacement parts as a desktop motherboard. Your Laptop is more expensive than a comparable type of Desktop PC for other reasons than inflated pricing. The components inside are more expensive to manufacture than conventional motherboard parts and represent the best, or close to the best that micro-electronics can offer.

These rules apply to most if not all present day laptops and most laptops manufactured in the last 5 or so years. So before you buy that password locked laptop, realize that the original owner could have easily had it unlocked by the manufacturer for either a nominal fee, or in some cases for free by providing his registration and warranty information.

Yes, with the right skills, patience and time you may be able to find that pesky little security chip, and you may even be able to disable it, but you still wont have the hard drive password if one is installed, so you will be buying a new hard drive right away.

For those who decide this is something they want to try I applaud you.
Do your research, learn the 2 pin technique to clear that password, or desolder that chip and replace it with a new one. The choice is yours.

My take on all this is simple.

There are far too many Broken Laptops available on Ebay for cheap that may just need a screen replacement, keyboard, hard drive or just a new battery for me to be wasting my time trying to hack a security chip on a Laptop with no guaranteed results.

Good Luck, whatever you Decide!

Please Vote for this Tip if you found it helpful.
Bob S.

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