Windows & BIOS Passwords not functioning

Posted on 2004-03-29
Last Modified: 2011-10-03
Hi there.

Some background info before I start:

Unit: - Sony Vaio  PCG-GRX600
OS: - Windows XP Home
Virus Protection: - Norton Anti Virus 2003 (definitions current to 27 March 2004)

I was using my laptop when I noticed most applications kept crashing (in this case just a text editor. As I had the laptop on for several hours at this point and had used several different applications, I thought (stupid me...) to simply LOG OUT and close all applications (not restart) and log in again.

When I did this, I was informed that my password was not valid. Thinking it was just poor typing on my part, I entered it in again - same result. Now, as most people might, I typed very slowly, key by key, and still - it was wrong. Hmm  - the 'CAPS' lock was not on and I am most positive that I did not change my password.

Next step? Restart the PC... why not?

Upon restart, I was asked for my BIOS password.

Guess what?

It didn't work either. After three attempts, I was presented with the error message:

System Disabled

I restarted the machine several times - same result.

Other info:
*) Up to date on all XP patches
*) I had been using my laptop for several hours, and during this time and did have an active Internet connection.
*) Norton Anti Virus is active - all e-mail is scanned and I scan the drives regularly.
*) I am absolutely positive I did not change any of my passwords recently, especially my BIOS password.

Needless to say, I am concerned. Worse is that I am on an extended business trip out and out of the country... and won't be back for a month. I dread sending it into Sony Customer Support but that might be unavoidable (check the net, many unhappy on this subject).

Any suggestions? Have I been hacked? Is it a more serious problem? I'm without a clue here.. :-P

Question by:bb1342
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 10704561
You should try to clear yout cmos memory thus removing the password. If you are lucky your system might have a jumper o switch to clear it (you usually have to open the notebook to find it), check your documentation if you have this switch/jumper. Otherwise you have to remove the lithio battery that keeps the cmos memory alive (you still need to open the notebook and find the battery). Check docs again for components position inside the system.
LVL 11

Assisted Solution

lbertacco earned 25 total points
ID: 10704646
LVL 57

Accepted Solution

Pete Long earned 100 total points
ID: 10704687
OK, if you do not know your BIOS password, as what happened to me, (I have an sony vaio fx370 notebook), removing the cmos battery does nothing. The only way to unblock it is to go thru a lot of b.s. with sony. Basically, you have to call sony's 1-800 number and tell them what's up. They'll need to know your serial number along with a bunch of other info. Then they will ask you to fax them a copy of your receipt (if you don't have this then good luck!) On the receipt you'll have to put down whatever reference number they give you and then you'll have to wait 24 hours. After 24 hours, you can call back and they will give you a code to unblock the BIOS (so they say). What will really happen is that you'll have to send two more faxes and go thru this procedure again until they're ready to give you the code (it's as if they were gonna give you the code to launching a nuclear warhead). It really isn't fair since I never set the password to begin with, (contrary to popular belief) it was there from the start. I suggest asking for the password before even pulling out the credit card and demanding to know every detail of your new computer since you are investing a good chunk of money. This process has taken me about two months since I live abroad and at first they told me that removing the cmos should be enough, WRONG (and they know it)! Oh and by the way, if you buy the extra warantee at Best Buy, y'know the 3 year one, no matter what goes wrong it's covered, this is the one thing they DO NOT cover, they claim it has nothing to do with them and to go thru Sony. I wouldn't recommend the warantee since the techs at best buy are pretty useless anyway and I have more or less fixed my own problems and I'm no expert so it's pretty sad that I know more than they do. The only thing it's good for are the free batteries.
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Author Comment

ID: 10705413


Many thanks for the repsonses thus far, but I would like to reiterate that my Windows password seems to have been changed also - so even if I get around the BIOS, which it looks like I can, I am left wondering how did this happen in the first place and what is the condition of my data once/if I can get back into the machine?
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 10705488
Unless you set it to something else, XP Home defaults to an empty apssword for the Admnistrator user.
LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 10705498
wondows password is quite easy

Windows  Password Recovery

Try the following,

First: Are you sure you've forgotton it? Try just hitting return (in case there is no password), Then try all the password you would usually use
remember passwords are CaSe senSiTive so try with the caps lock on and off, or capitalise the first "Letter"

NB. All these tools, and links are to third party tools and involve directly or indirectly changing the registry. I accept no responsibility for their use.

Your passwords are held (encrypted) in the registry, and in your "restore" directory. These tools edit one or more of these locations from a boot disk

Arm yourself with a blank (clean) Floppy Disk

I've used this one on XP and it works

Or try the following

This link will download software that creates a Linux Boot floppy that will let you change Passwords.


Using this link you will have to download the Image writer then the boot disk image


Or try This one from Sunbelt


This ones NOT free but Its what I use


Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, Bootdisk


Windows XP / 2000 / NT Key is a program to reset Windows XP / 2000 / NT security if Administrator password, secure boot password or key disk is lost.  ($195.00)

Heres some further reading

How to Log On to Windows XP If You Forget Your Password or Your Password Expires;en-us;321305

Windows XP Security - The Big Joke
FIX for above;en-us;818200

Good Luck! PL

Author Comment

ID: 10761676

Thanks for the help thus far.

How everything became damaged (i.e. how initially the Windows Password became corrupt and then the BIOS password) remains unknown after many days of analysis.

After some reasonably lengthy conversations with SONY Technical Support, for which I had had to pay US$19 as my warranty expired and send them proof of purchase which I thankfully had filed away, I was contaced within 48 hours. While they seemed to ignore how I might have arrived to this situation, they offered to give me a password to override the BIOS password that suddenly was not working. At least for SONY Vaio's, the override or backdoor password is linked to your PC serial number. I gave them my PC serial number and they gave me a password.

It worked.

I entered my laptop, the old XP password was OK and there seemed to be no problem. I ran some virus scans and did some diagnostics - everything was OK.

So, I have no idea what happened, but at least I only lost a few days and no data. I suppose what's good in this case is to know that SONY can get you past the BIOS password if you have the serial number.
LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 10767334

Expert Comment

ID: 10971171
can you help me ?

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