I would like to reset
Hello Benjamin, Laptops in general have much better hardware security than PCs. Some of them even come with fingerprint reader build in.
Most laptops come with a very strong BIOS password capability that locks up the hardware and makes the laptop completely unusable. This is the password that has to be entered before the operating system loads, usually on a black screen a few seconds after the laptop is started.
Of course BIOS password can be set on a PC too, but there it is stored together with the other BIOS settings - date, time, hard disk size, etc. It is very easy to reset the BIOS settings (and the password) on a PC - usually there is a jumper near the BIOS battery on the motherboard that needs to be moved from connecting pins 1+2 to pins 2+3 for a few seconds and than moved back to pins 1+2. Next time the PC is started it will alert you "... BIOS settings invalid... Defaults loaded... Press F1 to continue..." or something similar, and.... the password is gone!
However most laptops store the BIOS password in a special chip, sometimes even hidden under the CPU, that is not affected when the rest of the BIOS settings are reset. This makes the removal of a BIOS password on a laptop almost impossible. The only option in most cases is to replace the chip which is quite expensive and risky procedure and, of course, not supported by the manufacturers.
Some manufacturers (like Dell) can generate a "master password" for a particular laptop (from their service tag) if sufficient proof of ownership is provided. Others (like IBM) would advise replacing the laptop's motherboard (very expensive). On some old laptops (4 - 5 years or older) the BIOS password can still be reset relatively easy, usually by shorting two solder points on the motherboard or by plugging a special plug in the printer port, etc.
In almost all cases on newer laptops it is either a big hassle, expensive or even impossible to reset the BIOS password, making it a very good way of protecting your laptop from unauthorized use.
However what makes your computer exactly yours are your own files, documents, emails, pictures, etc. They are all stored on the hard drive. So, even if your laptop has a BIOS password that locks it up and makes it completely unusable to anyone that doesn't know it, your hard drive can still be removed from the laptop and connected to another computer, and your files retrieved quite easily.
on May 30, 2011