Unlocking a password protected harddisk
During development of the Rockbox firmware, on several occations the
harddisk has become locked, i.e. password protected. This results in the
Pls Chck HD
We are still not 100% sure why it happened. Theories range from
low-power conditions to accidental chip select failure.
It has also happened for normal users,
using the standard Archos-supplied firmware, although it was more
Note: None of us developers have experienced this problem since
We do however know how to unlock the disk:
Note: This requires taking the Archos apart, which will void your
- Create a bootable DOS floppy disk, and put atapwd.exe on it
- Remove the harddisk from your Archos and plug it into a laptop
(or a standard PC, using a 3.5" => 2.5" IDE adapter)
- Boot from the floppy and run atapwd.exe
- Select the locked harddrive and press enter for the menu
- For Fujitsu disks: Choose "unlock with user password", then
"disable with user password". The password is empty, so just press enter
at the prompt.
- For Toshiba and Hitachi disks, if the above doesn't work:
Choose "unlock with master password", then "disable with master
password". The password is all spaces.
- Your disk is now unlocked. Shut down the computer and remove
Big thanks to Magnus Andersson for discovering the Fujitsu (lack of)
There is also a program for win32,
that creates a linux boot disk with the below mentioned patched isd200
For those of us using Linux, we have written
isd200 driver patch for unlocking the disk
This modified driver will automatically unlock the disk when you connect
your Archos via USB, so you don't have to do anything special. Apply
the patch to a 2.4.18 linux kernel tree.
If the above suggestions don't work, here's some background info
about the disk lock feature:
The disk lock is a built-in security feature in the disk. It is
part of the ATA specification, and thus not specific to any brand or
A disk always has two passwords: A User password and a Master
password. Most disks support a Master Password Revision Code, which can
tell you if the Master password has been changed, or it it still the
factory default. The revision code is word 92 in the IDENTIFY response. A
value of 0xFFFE means the Master password is unchanged.
A disk can be locked in two modes: High security mode or Maximum
security mode. Bit 8 in word 128 of the IDENTIFY response tell you which
mode your disk is in: 0 = High, 1 = Maximum.
In High security mode, you can unlock the disk with either the
user or master password, using the "SECURITY UNLOCK DEVICE" ATA command.
There is an attempt limit, normally set to 5, after which you must
power cycle or hard-reset the disk before you can attempt again.
In Maximum security mode, you cannot
unlock the disk! The
only way to get the disk back to a usable state is to issue the SECURITY
ERASE PREPARE command, immediately followed by SECURITY ERASE UNIT. The
SECURITY ERASE UNIT command requires the Master password and will
completely erase all data on the disk. The operation is rather slow,
expect half an hour or more for big disks. (Word 89 in the IDENTIFY
response indicates how long the operation will take.)