Dell Inspiron 5100 BIOS password reset?
June 18, 2008 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Dell Inspiron 5100 BIOS password reset?

Dell Inspiron 5100 has a BIOS password set. Won't boot the computer, won't allow access to the BIOS without entering password. Don't know password.

From what I've read you have to completely disassemble the laptop to disconnect something and then re-solder it afterwards in order to reset the password.

I've also read that Dell can generate a master password if you can prove ownership. I don't know who owned this thing originally though.

Any way to generate a master password without Dell's help??

I found a master password generator software, but doesn't work for my system number, which ends in A95B. I guess if I had an older model this would work. Is there a master password generator for these newer ones? I've looked and looked, but came up short.

I saw this previous question but the guy didn't get the answer I'm looking for. I'm hoping the newer master password generator may be more available nowadays...
posted by doomtop to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The best thing I could track down is an archive of an old site that went very indepth on this topic. The archive is here.
posted by genial at 12:00 PM on June 18, 2008

Tried looking through the service manuals?

A lot of old desktops have a jumper that resets the BIOS. Dunno about old Dell laptops, though.
posted by meta_eli at 12:48 PM on June 18, 2008

There's also something like KillCMOS
posted by meta_eli at 12:51 PM on June 18, 2008

I just went through this a few months ago with a Compaq V3000. There are a lot of hits on the topic, and a lot of dead end leads, and in the end the answer was no, you can't reset the BIOS password. Even the manual suggested a procedure for doing it, which did reset the BIOS, but the password remained.

When the seller couldn't furnish me with the password, I began to suspect he was less than an upstanding citizen, but to my great surprise he came through with the password a few days later.

Ya, not that helpful, sorry. I've put many hours into this issue though, and I'm normally pretty successful at this kind of hardware hacking thing, so.. On the other hand, I'd love to be corrected!
posted by Chuckles at 5:08 PM on June 18, 2008

I didn't try KillCMOS, but I did try all of the BIOS tools on the ultimate boot CD (BIOS, !BIOS, CmosPwd, WipeCMOS). They just don't seem to support the BIOS versions commonly found on laptops.
posted by Chuckles at 5:21 PM on June 18, 2008

I had a problem with a BIOS password on a Dell Latitude I got through a largish company that my dad was doing work for. It was running Server 2003, and kept dying so we tried to install XP. One guy (plus the other half dozen in the office on and off) with computer engineering/science/IT degrees couldn't come up with a solution, with a week of trying - it was like a man vs machine quest to beat the BIOS. Dell said they couldn't help us at all. We ended up tracking down the head of the IT department at the big company who decided to lock down the BIOS of the computers (the PC was 5 years old), and convinced him to give us the password. If he hadn't, the laptop would have become a fancy paperweight.

But in the end, what chuckles said. Good luck, you'll need it.
posted by cholly at 6:40 PM on June 18, 2008

Aha, finally a question where I can provide some unique knowledge.

There's no jumper, so without the reset code from Dell, unsoldering the CMOS or trying some pretty sketchy software are your only options. Unpleasant.

The good news is, transferring the ownership to you is easily done online. Assuming you're in States, start here

I'm in Canada but I've done a lot of work with off-lease Dells, including transferring ownership for warranty and password removal purposes. All they will want is the service tag (7-digit alpha-numeric... your laptop's "name") and the Express Service Number (I think that's what it's called, it's been a while... it's a 12-or-so number code that will be on a sticker on the bottom of the laptop)

With this information we would enter "NA" in every field for the previous user, then our company's info for current owner. Give it a few days, then call Dell back and ask for the password reset code. Once you've cleared the "ownership" hurdle all they will need is the code you get at startup. This will be your Service Tag plus a suffix, ie 7XD63F1-595B.

I may have the order of events wrong but that's really all you should need.

Also, reading this:

"I found a master password generator software, but doesn't work for my system number, which ends in A95B"

Dunno what software you're using but if it really only wants your "system number" it's like I said -- 7-digits. The -A95B applies only to the password. Try it with only the service tag but I'd be amazed if that worked.
posted by raider at 6:44 PM on June 18, 2008

Response by poster: @raider: Thanks. I've gone down the transfer of ownership route with Dell. The problem is that they require the name of the original owner who registered the machine, which I don't have. Otherwise they would be able to sort it out for me.

Correct, the service tag is the 7 characters before the -A95B. I believe the A95B is the algorithm used for generating the password. I have a generator for a different password type, the problem is it doesn't work for A95B type passwords.

I know there is a A95B type generator that exists because obviously Dell has it. I have also found a service that claims they can generate the password, but it costs $90.
posted by doomtop at 12:04 PM on June 19, 2008

I'm telling ya, try my link above to transfer online. I have transferred ownership (from American to Canadian and Can -> Can) dozens of times. Just enter NA for every field for the old user and see what happens (looks like old user isn't even a required field). Bet you a pint it works...
posted by raider at 3:34 PM on June 19, 2008

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