Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
A BIOS password provides a surprising amount of security on a computer. So much so that if the password is lost, the chances for recovery are slim.
How do I remove BIOS password? I can't boot CDs; how can I fix this without knowing the BIOS password?
You probably can't.
BIOS passwords - which you enter before even booting to allow the process to proceed - turn out to be fairly tough items to crack. That's (mostly) great news if you're trying to protect your computer.
Unfortunately, it's pretty bad news if you don't know the password and need to get in.
Let's review the options...
Example BIOS chip on a motherboard
The BIOS, or Basic Input Output System, is the software that's actually stored in a memory chip on your computer's motherboard. It performs many functions, but the one that we're most familiar with perhaps is that it's the software the gets control of your machine from the moment you turn it on or when you reboot it. It's then responsible for locating the boot device - hard disk, CD, USB or floppy - and loading the software that takes over the next stage of the boot process from it.
Many, if not most, BIOS's can now be programmed to require a password before allowing you to do anything.
By anything, of course, I mean anything; if you don't know the BIOS password, you can't boot, you can't alter any BIOS settings, and, of course, you can't reset the BIOS password.
As I said, it's fairly strong security, if that's what you're looking for. Given how often people forget passwords, it's almost too strong; if you forget it, you are very likely completely out of luck.
I know of four scenarios if you forget your BIOS password.
Almost every brand of BIOS is different, so I can't give you step-by-step instructions. There's at least one bit of information, though, that is common:
In order to change or remove the BIOS password, you need to know the BIOS password.
It makes sense, of course, from a security perspective, but when you're faced with a machine whose BIOS password is unknown, it puts you in a very difficult position.
Potentially, an unsolvable one.
Very few computer manufacturers provide consumers with the ability to reset the BIOS password by setting a jumper on the motherboard. The only way to know if this will work for your computer is to contact the manufacturer of the computer or its motherboard.
The reason that this is infrequent is that the jumper defeats the purpose of the BIOS password in the first place. For example, a thief who has successful stolen your machine can contact the manufacturer, find out how to reset the password, and get right in.
I have heard of some scenarios where the computer manufacturer will, possibly for a fee, reset the BIOS password for you. Typically, that means shipping your computer back to the manufacturer where they have access to resources that you and I do not, and they perform whatever magic is appropriate for their machine to unlock it.
Naturally, this is a good theft deterrent because a thief isn't likely to bother sending a machine off to a manufacturer where it can likely be traced back to him.
I do believe that this is also a very uncommon practice, but I could be wrong.
There may simply not be a way to reset the password, and therefore, no way to unlock the BIOS.
One alternative in this scenario is then to replace the motherboard, BIOS and all. With a new motherboard with an un-passworded BIOS, you'll have access to everything you need.
Sometimes, the bottom line is simply that a machine with an unknown BIOS passwords is, for all practical purposes, unsalvageable. It's a shame, but it's an unfortunate reality. If the hard drive is not itself password protected (the subject of a future article), getting a completely new computer and either installing the old hard drive, or attaching it as an external drive, is perhaps the most expeditious solution.
BIOS passwords actually provide a surprising level of security, but only to a point, as an unprotected hard drive could be placed in a different machine without a BIOS password.
Regaining control of a computer whose BIOS password is unknown is iffy at best and frequently a lost cause.
Bottom line: don't forget the BIOS password.
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