Help me get past the BIOS password on a Dell Latitude.
July 6, 2007 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Help me get past the BIOS password on a Dell Latitude.

I work in a pawnshop, and one of our employees recently purchased a Dell Latitude D520. When the laptop is booted up, though, we get a gray screen with a message saying:

"This computer system, #7RZNPB1-595B, is protected by a password authentication system."

From my investigation so far, it appears you can crack the thing open to solder and short some stuff on the motherboard, but that's a little beyond my expertise. There also seems to be a way to deduce the master password from the service tag given above, but I can't find it. Anyone?
posted by EarBucket to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
posted by SpecialK at 8:08 AM on July 6, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, but that thread's closed, and seems to be dependant on the one person in the community who knows how to do it dropping in to bless one or two people with an answer, like a fairy godmother. I'm hoping there's a less capricious Dell-savvy person out there in the hive mind.
posted by EarBucket at 8:27 AM on July 6, 2007

You need to leave the battery out for several minutes to be sure of resetting the CMOS memory used by the BIOS. In most computers they put a large capacitor across that battery so that you can replace it without having the BIOS memory get trashed. You have to leave the battery out long enough so that the capacitor drains.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:21 AM on July 6, 2007

You need to contact the seller. If the seller is the registered owner with Dell, they can contact Dell and initiate a Transfer of Ownership of your computer. This will need to be done for any support issue regardless.

If not, good luck.
posted by dhartung at 10:23 AM on July 6, 2007

You can initiate a transfer of ownership online. The form asks for a lot of information, but it will actually process with very few fields completed.

Use as much of the seller's info that you have.

Hopefully the person who pawned it is the owner. If it was given to them as a gift and the original owner didn't transfer at that time, you might run into a snag, but I've seen it go through with just the service tag and last name.

If it's flagged in Dell's system as stolen or if the tag is on hold for non payment (they didn't pay Dell Financial Services or they disputed the charge with their credit card) then this won't work.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:21 AM on July 6, 2007

somebody on says that a similar computer had "password" and "admin" as the boot and HD passwords.
posted by Megafly at 11:47 AM on July 6, 2007

Removing the battery from the motherboard will work. Just be careful not to break anything.
Another method is to find the jumper on the motherboard to reset the CMOS settings.
You can Download the manual for the computer to find the jumper.
posted by euphotic at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2007

In my experience as a PC tech back in the day, when we wanted to reset a BIOS we would simply pop out the battery and short the positive / negative battery terminals with a screwdriver. Clears the capacitor instantly, harms nothing (at least, it never hurt the several hundred PCs / laptops I worked on) and doesn't require digging around for a jumper. :)
posted by ZakDaddy at 11:50 PM on July 6, 2007

Response by poster: So the battery solution doesn't seem to be working. I've filed a transfer of ownership request with Dell, but they're going to take 2-3 weeks to get back to me. I think I'll exhaust that route before I start soldering anything, but I may end up trying it if nothing else works. Nothing to lose--the thing's basically a doorstop as it is.
posted by EarBucket at 6:22 AM on July 7, 2007

Response by poster: So apparently the BIOS password isn't stored in CMOS on Dell laptops. On the older models, it looks like it was in a 24C02 chip that could be shorted to bypass the password, but the D520 doesn't have that chip, and I can't find out what the appropriate chip would be for this model. Hrm.
posted by EarBucket at 8:47 AM on July 7, 2007

If it's security password set by Dell, they usually use "BIOS", "BOOT", and "DELL". There is another way to get past this - flash the BIOS... not a bad idea on an older laptop either since it probably hasn't been done in a long time and the updates will help. The BIOS updates and software to do it are provided by Dell Support. In my experience this does it every time!
posted by Raichle at 5:44 AM on June 19, 2008

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