BIOS Password Removal

A Basic Input / Output System (BIOS) password is usually stored within the hardware. It is a hardware layer of security, which prevents unauthorised use of the laptop. This security is usually the first to present itself when the computer starts.

The purpose of the BIOS is to perform a self-test of all the hardware that is present, and if the test passes, then the Operating System (OS) will boot. Hence, this layer of security challenges the user before the OS has even started.

Back in 2000, the laptop architecture was such that the BIOS password would be stored in a small flash memory chip, together with critical hardware parameters, and therefore hacking the chip bypassed this security. However today, you will rarely find this type of security. Modern laptops utilise a more sophisticated security system, which safeguards the data stored in the hard drive.

Back in the old days, one could take a hard drive out of a laptop, install it into another laptop and gain full access to the data. However, this rarely works on modern machines as hard drives often have a dedicated layer of security preventing access to the data. The old days when an MP forgets his laptop in a train thereby revealing top-secret government plans should not happen today, at least not as long as those that are paid the big bucks are doing their job properly.

Password Removal Tools

Generally, you will not find any BIOS password removal tools on the Internet. They do exist; however, the laptop manufacturers do not allow their proliferation for obvious reasons. If you have a locked laptop, and lost the password then the manufacturer is the only one who can remove it for you. It will not be quick and easy either, as you will have to prove that you are the owner of the laptop. This is certainly the case if you have an Acer, Toshiba, IBM ThinkPad, or Sony.

However, if you have a cheap and nasty laptop made by a lesser know Chinese manufacturer, then chances are that the software tool might already exist on a Chinese website!

The Quick and Easy Method

In the distant past, back in the days of the 486 computers the BIOS password was stored in the CMOS memory, and all one had to do was to remove the CMOS battery to erase its contents. Sometimes the manufacturer even thoughtfully provided a jumper setting to reset the CMOS memory. However, I would be very surprised to find a computer like this anymore.

Buy a New Laptop

If you still have one of these ancient laptops, then you have my sympathies. Perhaps you should consider buying a new Dell computer, as it will save you much time and money in the long run.

If you need to recover the data from it, then you do not need the password. All you have to do is to remove the drive and install it into a working computer. On eBay, you can get an “IDE Drive Converter”, which will allow an engineer to connect a laptop drive to a desktop PC. Once connected, you get full access to the drive and the data.

Serial Flash Chip Hack

Resetting the password stored in a serial flash chip is much harder, and this was a method used back in 2000. This method does not work on modern laptops as the modern flash chips have password protection of their own!

When my firm made a large number of redundancies, some of the returned laptops had password protection, and the personnel department could not reach their former owners. All the top experts and consultants had a go and gave up. However, in the end, the impossible always lands on my desk and becomes the possible, because in the end, there is a big difference between an overpriced education and intelligence.

Although this solution was for the ancient Dell Latitude, it could work for other ancient laptops that use the same flash memory chip.

This chip is a surface-mount device (SMD) and is often located on the underside of the PCB. Manufacturers usually place it where it is difficult to get to, and usually one has to take the laptop apart. However, in the Dell Latitude, there is easy access from the top under the keyboard.

Find the Chip

Solder Wires to the Chip

The first task is to locate the serial flash chip, which will take a long time to find with a magnifying glass. On the Dell D266XT, the chip is located under the processor board.

If you find the chip, then simply solder a pair of wires to the pins as shown. You will have to use thin wires so that they will not obstruct when assembling the laptop.

Join the Wires

Join the Wires

Start the laptop, and when it begins to boot join the wires. The laptop should enter into the Manufacturing Mode. Once it enters into this mode, disconnect the wires.

Manufacturing Mode

Manufacturing Mode

Once in the manufacturing mode, enter the BIOS setup mode pressing whichever key combination that is required for the model of laptop you have. Usually it is “Fn + F1” on Dell machines to enter setup. Once you have access to the BIOS navigate to the menu that deals with passwords and disable or change it.

This Article Continues...

BIOS Password Removal
How BIOS Password Removal Works
Serial Flash Memory Chip
BIOS Password Removal - Dell Latitude