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Friday, June 3, 2016
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.
How do I clear a laptop BIOS or CMOS password?
A laptop BIOS password is more secure than a traditional desktop to help protect the data if it was stolen. If you are the original owner of the laptop, we highly recommend contacting the manufacturer of the laptop. Companies such as Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba can reset the password if you are the original owner using the Service Tag, disk, or give you exact steps for your laptop.
If you are not the original owner of the laptop, there are some ways to bypass the password depending on the manufacture and model of the laptop.
5 to 8 character code on System Disabled screen
In the CMOS setup, when prompted for a password, guess three times until you're giving the code. If, after entering the wrong password three times, the computer is displaying a 5 to 8 code, as shown in the picture, continue to the next step. Write down the code and visit Dogbert's BIOS Password Backdoors scripts page to download Python and the free Python scripts to clear many of these types of passwords. As the computer is booting, press F1, F2, or Del to enter CMOS setup.
Clear by dip switches, jumpers, jumping BIOS, or replacing BIOS
If the above suggestions do not apply to your laptop,
you need to open the laptop and clear the password using dip switches or
jumpers. You may also be able to jump the BIOS using a paperclip, by
soldering a wire to pins on the BIOS, or replacing the BIOS chip.
The location of dip switches or jumpers on the
motherboard depends on the brand and model of your laptop. Check the
technical documentation for your laptop and contact the manufacturer to
determine which motherboard is in your laptop. Search the Internet for
that motherboard model for a technical diagram of where components are
located, including the dip switches or jumpers for resetting the BIOS.
Which step you take depends on the manufacturer and
model of your laptop computer. For most end users we highly recommend
having the laptop serviced by a qualified technician who can properly
disassemble a laptop.
Contact laptop manufacturer
If the above steps do not help remove the CMOS password for your laptop, we suggest contacting the laptop manufacturer
for steps on how to clear the password. Many manufacturers have strict
policies in place to help protect their customers' laptops and only they
have the information on how to clear CMOS passwords.