HDD 0 Password comes outta nowhere!
May 20, 2006 5:03 AM   Subscribe

Hard drive password: the Samsung laptop my wife uses suddenly started asking for HDD 0 password on bootup. Checking in the bios confirms that a password has been set on the HDD. She swears she didn't do it, and has no idea what happened. What to do?

I can't boot from CD, can't get to anything but the bios. This is one that in decades of messing around with computers, I've never encountered. Are we screwed? (It's actually a laptop that my work gave me, so I could just dump it on them, but I'd like to be able to fix it myself, if that's possible)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken to Technology (15 answers total)
It would help to have make/model of laptop, and BIOS revision level. But in the absence of that, a BIOS password is probably going to be stored in a BIOS accessible memory register. If you don't know the password, sometimes you can get around that by trying some common BIOS backdoor passwords.

But if your laptop is of fairly recent vintage, it probably has some low level security chips to make recovery of a BIOS password non-trivial. Absent replacing the security chip, or maybe the motherboard, you're not going to easily get past this on most modern laptops. Security bites.

If you do get in, I'd suggest running some anti-rootkit tools, to see if the machine got the password set by a rootkit.
posted by paulsc at 5:36 AM on May 20, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry: Samsung SensX05 (that's the Korean model, different in US, I think), Phoenix BIOS rev. 08QK.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:43 AM on May 20, 2006

It appears that a procedure exists (see here) but I don't know what it is.
posted by fake at 6:00 AM on May 20, 2006

The procedure that fake links to will involve them providing you with a backdoor password for the BIOS.
posted by atrazine at 6:29 AM on May 20, 2006

A lot of computers allow you to reset the BIOS password by resetting a jumper or DIP switch on the motherboard. With a laptop, this may prove more difficult.
posted by Danelope at 7:16 AM on May 20, 2006

i've got news for ya. a hard drive password is not the same as a bios password. most laptops allow the setting of both. with a bios password, there are ways out. with a hard drive password, you are screwed. you can move that drive from laptop to laptop and it's still locked.

one reason you want to set a bios password is to make it more difficult for a random person gaining physical access to your laptop to set a hard drive password simply by booting into the bios. set a hard drive password when you absolutely need total confidentiality for what is stored on the hard drive. but never forget it.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:22 AM on May 20, 2006

Response by poster: i've got news for ya. a hard drive password is not the same as a bios password.

That's not news, Captain Condescending. If you'd read my question, you'd be aware that nobody has actually set a password, but that a prompt has started appearing nonetheless, inexplicable as that seems. I am aware of the screwedness that an HD password implies, but I thought I'd poll the green to see if there were any workarounds.

but never forget it.

Duh. The problem, again, is not someone setting and forgetting (if I am to believe my wife, which I do, always) but prompty shit spontaneously appearing.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:23 AM on May 20, 2006

This looks like a possible solution.
posted by Eater at 11:18 AM on May 20, 2006

I had the problem Eater linked too. Nobody set a password, but one was set nonetheless (in my case, it happened when the disk was solidly paging with an interrupted power supply).

I spent many many hours trying to unlock it many different ways, but couldn't do it. (I think it was set with a string of garbage, rather than set to nothing, or one of the other occurances you can work around)

It sounds like you already know your options if a password has been set, you're just not sure if a password has been set. I suspect you'll want to remove the drive and connect it as a secondary drive to a desktop computer. Then you can boot, and if the drive won't allow itself to be read, it confirms that it has indeed been locked, and you can then proceed to apply diagnostic tools, since it's hooked to a running computer. (Or return it to your workplace to have them throw it in the trash if you don't fancy your chances).
posted by -harlequin- at 6:10 PM on May 20, 2006

Response by poster: I received this in my mailbox from 3.2.3 (others may find it revealing or informative):
why should i burden askme with replying to your dumbfuck comment? here ya go, personal delivery:

That's not news, Captain Condescending. If you'd read my question

i read it. and most of your snarkiness elsewhere on this site. i damn near did not answer your question simply because it came from you and having read your history on this site. but you did seem confused by the other answers, which kept talking about bios passwords, so what the heck. be sure it won't happen again. it was not my intention to be condescending to you. but to make you aware the the hdd password is not something you are going to defeat, whether you set it or can explain it or not. if you were already aware to that, it didn't show, and that's not my fault.

you know, there are guidelines in askme to limit comments to answers or help finding an answer. i wish to hell some people *asking* questions could figure that out when replying to answers.

I am aware of the screwedness that an HD password implies

see, that is not apparent from your question (or the ensuing discussion about bios passwords):

Are we screwed?

to which the answer, had i wanted to be condescending, would simply have been "yes."

and apparently it couldn't happen to a nicer couple.

have fun with your new doorstop, wonder chicken fucker.
He or she used 'spambucket@...' as a return address, so my response must be: thanks, that's about as clear an answer as I could ask for, if not very friendly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:29 PM on May 20, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, by the way, to everyone who actually tried to help. I'll just take it in to work tomorrow and get the guys to fix or replace it for me. No biggie; like I said, I just like to do these things myself, if I can.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:40 PM on May 20, 2006

The original XBOX uses a similar security scheme. From my time spent there, I have found services that claim to unlock any hard drive for $50. Do you have any crucial data on the drive?
posted by mr.dan at 8:03 PM on May 20, 2006

Response by poster: Some stuff it'd be moderately pleasant to recover, but nothing crucial, no. Certainly nothing worth $50.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:06 PM on May 20, 2006

I've seen this with IBM laptop drives, and it indicated the drive was dying. I mis-remember the details. If you want to work on laptops, it's very handy to have an adapter that allows you to connect laptop hard drives to standard drive cables. Also try booting to Knoppix.
posted by theora55 at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2006

Response by poster: Monday morning, and I gave the machine to the support guys here at work. They'll just whack in a new (bigger, I hope!) hard drive if they can't salvage the old one. Thanks again.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:28 PM on May 21, 2006

« Older How to produce a Gmail-style checkbox selection...   |   "If we're both single when we're 40, let's marry... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.