How can I get past an HDD password on my stolen and recovered laptop?

Anonymous April 19, 2014

My computer is a Gateway laptop. It was stolen but was recovered by the police. When I got it back and I started it up it ask for a HDD password. When it was stolen the DVDs as well as the password reset disk were in the case but it wasn’t returned with the case and all of the additional rescue software is gone.

What can I do to get pass this HDD password screen so I can use my computer?

  1. Agnishom
    April 21, 2014 at 7:12 am

    That looks promising

  2. Wasp S
    April 21, 2014 at 5:53 am

    The usual solution for a forgotten hard drive password is to replace the drive and reinstall everything.

    The password and firmware are stored on a chip on the HDD's control card. It won't work with a different OS, or on a different computer; and if you wipe the chip, the drive won't work.
    The BIOS tries to access the boot sector on the HDD, at which point the HDD firmware asks for the password to the HDD. This protects the drive even if you remove it, or use a different operating system. The password is not stored on the drive platters.

    DELL laptops generally have three passwords (optional), two are the "power-up" or BIOS ones and the third is the HDD.

    All these are access control rather than data security, so if you want to secure your data you need to use encryption. If you don't, someone with the right equipment and training could recover your data quite easily using standard techniques.

    If you have the misfortune to "lose" the password, a data recovery company will be able to help, either by replacing the control card component or putting the platters on a spin-up table and extracting the data from there.

    They don't attempt to "crack" the password as this is totally impractical given the submission/response times and the three strikes rule.

    I have known this happen a few times in cases of probate, where only the deceased knew the password.

  3. Tom_T
    April 21, 2014 at 4:38 am

    You Could Use A Linux Disk & Boot From There
    Then Copy Important Info To External
    Storage Then Reformat the Hdd ~ Warning
    If You Format You Will Loose Recovery
    Partition & All Other Data

  4. Bruce E
    April 21, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Most consumer laptops don't have the type of hard drives Dale is talking about. They tend to be reserved for high-end business machines. Some laptop BIOSes refer to a user password as a HDD password. This is the one you need to bypass. If the supervisor password has not been set, you should be able to simply enter the BIOS and delete the current user/HDD password on the system. Otherwise, you can follow Hovsep's suggestion to reset the BIOS settings to their factory defaults.

  5. mikiaandy
    April 20, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Replace the hdd, it s easy way to use your computer.

  6. ASkyw
    April 20, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Sorry forgot the link. Over in this forum:

  7. ASkyw
    April 20, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    There are a few reports of success over on this forum using Hiren's Boot Disk with select tools. It may be worth a shot.

  8. Mark
    April 20, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Yeah, so, the best option is to contact gateway and explain the situation to them. Most manufacturers of notebooks will not give out their sacred ways of removing the password, but they are happy to take your money to do it for you.

  9. Said Bakr
    April 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Attache it as a slave disk in another computer then backup your data, then re-partition it again. Or return back to the police and they ask the thief what is the password is otherwise you may plame him again to increase his punishment.

  10. fal
    April 20, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Also, sometimes you have a cmos password reset jumper on your motherboard. I'd say open it up, and find the model of your motherboard. Search for the cmos password reset jumper on google. <Example.

  11. fal
    April 20, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Hirens Boot CD is a great tool to use. Use the online/active password changer.

  12. Milton Grimshaw
    April 20, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Most passwords are maintained in the Motherboards BIOS, not on the HDD, so remove it and put in another machine

  13. Mahmoud
    April 20, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Theres a recovery software that you boot from the CD and it takes u to password reset its not for OS Installation. I used it to reset Local Admin Password.

  14. Oron J
    April 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

    I'd suggest starting by giving Gateway tech support a phone call. They should be able to tell you what HDD encryption, if any, was built into your laptop, and suggest ways forward. If the laptop has an encryption feature, then recycling, as Dale suggests, may be the only sensible option, but it might not be that bad! Gateway should also be able to send you reinstallation DVDs (although they'll probably charge you around $50 for them).

  15. Dale P. Baker
    April 20, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Neither of the above answers will work if a TRUE HARD DRIVE password has been installed.
    It has nothing to do with the formatting of the hard drive,the password you are referring to,is stored in the
    controlled chip. You could buy a brand new hard drive and the password will remain. Two (2) the least expensive and works a lot I have been told,do a search on Ebay for unlocking a hard drive password.
    The most reliable and most expensive is to have some person that has the hardware available to remove it from the controller chip. Hardware cost in excess of $1000.00 and they usually charge from $100-$300 for they work.
    Lastly you can buy a new motherboard,have it installed . Since you mostly likely will buy a new motherboard
    I personally would have the video chip reflowed with good solder and the charging jack reflowed with solder too.
    Saving you expense of guaranteed doing later.
    I sure this clears up the mess and helps in making a decision. In my opinion if the laptop does not have at least Win 7 installed originally,just recycle it.

    Good Luck

    • Jason
      April 21, 2014 at 12:38 am

      If your data is important (worth more than the drive), then buy a new drive and swap the controller boards. Depending on the drive model, this may remove the password if it is stored in the drive controller.
      If your data is not worth as much as a new drive, then buy a new drive. There's really no way around it, as an HDD password will not allow the HDD to be used at all (can't format, etc.).

    • justin martin
      April 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      if its not a hdd encryption password then its probably just a bios password which can be reset by going into the bios settings (which probably also is locked) if the bios is locked the you will need to physically reset the cmos chip, you can do this by opening you computer and locating the jumper for it or by locating and temporary removing the battery (remove for about 30 seconds and be sure the is absolutely no source of power to the computer) then put it back in and put the computer back together and it should be gone, if its a hdd encryption password you probably will have to re-format your hdd and install a new operating system

  16. dragonmouth
    April 19, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    One solution is to download GParted and install it to a CD. Boot from the CD and reformat the hard drive. Unfortunately, all data on the hard drive will be lost. Once the drive is reformatted you can install the O/S of your choice.

    Another solution is to try to get rid of the password and access whatever is on the disk. Personally I would not trust anything that is on the hard drive. I would prefer to start from scratch.

  17. Hovsep A
    April 19, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Try to reset CMOS battery
    unplug the laptop from the wall, remove the barttery then open the laptop and remove the cmos battey for 1h at least

    • Zorba Dravillas
      April 21, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      yup, only way, and you can do it yourself.

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