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Unknown HDD password on ndell .kn.k

Posted on 2010-11-18
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My husband passed away. I gave his son his Dell inspiron 1525. The laptop is password protected. hDD protected. Can we bypass the password or is the laptop
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Question by:Georgiaddd
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by:noxcho
ID: 34169234
What exactly is pass protected? When do you get the pass requiring windows?
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by:jamietoner
ID: 34170761
If it's a bios password contact Dell and they can help reset it. If it's a HDD password, it's easier to just replace the drive. If its a windows password let us know and we can suggest a few tools.
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by:nobus
ID: 34171026
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ocanada_techguy earned 500 total points
ID: 34172130
Sorry for your loss.

It's dicey.  There's lots of laptop thefts, lots of attempts at indentity theft by laptop thieves, so you'll find it difficult to receive such assistance without some proof of being the registered owner or officially representing his estate.

It is going to depend if:

a) the laptop is power-on password protected in the BIOS, such that it won't operate without the password.  The manufacturer may have a procedure, which may involve removing the watch-battery that maintains the BIOS and/or shorting some jumper hiding somewhere internally on the motherboard.

b) the hard disk drive is ATA "locked", a secret password that a few select laptop manufacturers have bothered to implement (all ATA drives since ATA-3 1997 support it, but few if any actually do it) in which case there are some tricks that can be done to get around it

Sounds from your description like it might be both.

Here is a very old thread (with conflicting opinions)  http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Q_20423260.html  I would pay particular attention to i) the ATAPWD utility.  In particular, the fact that a supervisor/master HD password may be the manufacturer's default and your spouse might've only implemented/used the user lock password. or ii) the trick of having another identical drive and switching them live at the correct moment.

The newest drives can ENCRYPT the drive, not just "lock it".  These are RARE, unlikely what you have, but if it's that, you might be able to wipe it to use over from scratch but getting the data is likely impossible without the password.

If you mean c) user password to get into Windows and some directory folders are secured and/or encrypted, that's a different matter and there are some solutions depending.

For another very useful discussion of specialized hardware devices and data lab services designed to defeat hard drive password protection, see here http://www.wwpi.com/?option=com_content&task=view&id=2669&Itemid=129 

A replacement hard disk is relatively cheap, for avoiding b) but you'll first have to solve a).   You might decide to set-aside the hard disk in case there is anything on there you end up needing access to in the future (using the cracking techniques I've referenced above) and just using a replacement drive.

If you do, check into what the normal operating temperature of the drives offered with that laptop are.  Some newer laptop drives run at higher RPMs, maybe use more power thus reducing battery duration (won't matter if you mostly plug-in) BUT might operate as much as 10 degrees Celcius hotter (!) than their predecessors.  In a laptop that could be pushing your luck, straining the ventilation ability and affecting the operating temperature of the entire laptop and it's longevity.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Georgiaddd
ID: 34176252
THANKS i AM JUST GOING THE EASY ROUTE AND REPLACING THE HARD DRIVE.
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