Everyone has secret data and information they want to protect, and one of the most common ways of achieving this is to add a password that will prevent others from accessing this information. Unfortunately, people tend to forget these passwords very often and end up locking themselves out of their important information as well. In personal computers, nowhere is this a bigger problem than when you forget your BIOS password.
The BIOS is the first software that’s executed by your machine. Its basically the very lowest level of your computer. When you forget the BIOS password you set, there is no way around it. No magic hot key or disk that will remove it. The only layer beneath it is the dreaded hardware layer. Where the password has to be removed by physically interacting with the motherboard or BIOS chip on the computer.
In desktop computers this is usually a simple procedure, since there is usually a jumper on the motherboard designed for clearing the password. The pins are usually labeled, and if not can always be found in the user manual for the computer. Simply short the pins, turn on the computer and the password will be cleared. No problem.
In laptops, this is a whole different story. Unlike desktop computers, motherboards in laptops were not designed to be easily interacted with. For this reason if there is a jumper to short in order to clear password it requires complete disassemble of the entire computer. Yiikes. Very often these jumper pins are not clearly labeled, and you must have motherboard schematics to be able to find them.
Not only that, but very often these “clear password” jumpers are simply not present. They don’t exist, since the manufacturer didn’t think it would be a good idea. Passwords are usually stored in flash memory, meaning they don’t disappear when you remove the CMOS battery. You’re stuck! The only thing left to do is to physically remove the bios chip from the motherboard, reprogram it, or swap a new one in it’s place.
As you can seem, simply forgetting your password can be a HUGE problem. If you’re not able to do it yourself, which is likely if you have a laptop, you will have to spend hundreds for getting the password removed professionally. Not good at all, and a very big headache for everyone.
Keep your passwords strong and secure, but most importantly memorable so you don’t lock yourself out along with the bad guys.
Guest post by Mike. 15 year computer repair technician, writer, and current head of Bay Area PC Repair in San Jose, California.