Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

A motherboard does not remember passwords. Missing passwords must be caused by something else that happened while you switched the motherboard out.

I recently had to put a new motherboard in my computer, but I lost all my passwords. Is there any way I can get my old passwords back?

In this excerpt from Answercast #23, I look at a situation where changing a motherboard coincided with missing passwords and look at the various scenarios that could have caused this.

Replacing the motherboard

I need to start this by saying that this question is extremely vague. I don't know where you stored your passwords. I don't know what was remembering your passwords for you. What I can tell you is that the motherboard is not the piece of equipment that remembers passwords.

The motherboard is simply your CPU, some circuitry and some RAM, and maybe a place for a couple of add-on cards. Normally, if something's going to get remembered, it's going to get remembered on your hard disk. Maybe your browser was doing it for you. Perhaps you had installed something like LastPass or RoboForm which remembered passwords for you.

Again, those are going to be stored on your hard disk.

Passwords forgotten

So, the only thing that I can think of that could cause your passwords to no longer be remembered would be: if, as part of installing that motherboard, you had to reinstall Windows. Reinstalling Windows would have erased all of that saved information on your hard disk. Usually, that means that all of the passwords saved by your browser have been erased and are probably not recoverable.

You need to go in and re-establish all those passwords. Get the browser to remember them again.

Yes, that means you need to remember your passwords, but that's something you need to do anyway. You should always have a record or a memory of your own passwords. Having the browser remember them for you or having software remember them for you, if it's not backed up, is just a convenience. That is particularly true when it comes to the browser.

Recovering passwords

For all of the accounts that you can't login to right now, to get yourself a new password, you have to go through the "I forgot my password" path.

When you get yourself a new password, sure, let the browser remember it for you, if you feel secure that the machine is secure enough for that to happen. But don't take that as an excuse, or a reason, not to have the password saved somewhere else – so that when you need it you have it in front of you.

Article C5420 - June 3, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
Bill Landau
June 4, 2012 2:34 PM

99% correct - a motherboard (or, I suppose technically one of its components, the BIOS) does remember one or two passwords. The boot password (some BIOSes have a user boot password and an admin password). The password will be gone when the new motherboard is installed; of course, none will be needed ;-)

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