Help: Locked Hard Drive

A friend? of mine locked the Hard Drive in my Laptop (it was his way of
"sticking it to me", and so far it's worked very well). As the boot process
begins it stops, and asks for the password. The boot sequence is set for
floppy first, but even trying to boot with a floppy wont allow progress past
the password prompt.
So far I've tried to boot to a floppy - no success - with the thought of a
Low Level Format. I've placed the drive, with an adapter, into a desktop,
and I discovered that BIOSs without a password scheme like a Laptop, reports
the drive as a "failed disk". If I place it into another Laptop it asks for
the password. I locked a different drive, placed it into the desktop, and it
reported as a "failed disk". I put it back into the Laptop, unlocked it, and
back into the desktop where it worked normally.
Further research led me to the Hard Disk ATA Standard, which allows for a
Hard Drive to be locked, and unlocked. It appears that the passwords (user,
and master) are not on the platter, but stored in a register on the
controller board. The logic sequence on boot up is to check if the drive is
locked, and if it is it wont unlock the drive until the proper command, then
the password is sent to the drive.
The ATA Standard also indicates that if you know the Master Password, it
will unlock the drive, and reset the user password to null.
I understand the need for security, but I can't help but suspect that some
clever chap has discovered a workaround short of sending the drive to a data
recovery facility, and spending thousands of $$$.
There has to be a way of probing the register in question, and reading the
data necessary to unlock the drive.
I can buy a new drive for my Laptop, but I guess the challenge of
overcomingmthe situation is too much to pass up.
Any suggestions, Web Sites, other news groups, or assistance would be
appreciated!!
Thank you.
Louis--
*********************************************
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Reply to
Louis Bybee
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If it was me, I'd start by beating the password out of my "friend".
A good thing to do is to put the password in yourself to keep the riffraff out. You may want to consider this after you beat the password out of the @$$#0|&.
Reply to
BG
If there is one password prompt before either a floppy or hard drive boot, it sounds like your 'friend' has set the BIOS password. I haven't spent too much time fiddling with laptops, but on most PC motherboards, there is a jumper that, when temporarily closed (or opened) resets the BIOS configuration settings (including passwords).
Find some technical documentation on your laptop and see if this is the case. If you clear the BIOS, be prepared to go in and reconfigure all the settings. And (as others have suggested), put in a password yourself this time.
Reply to
Paul Hovnanian P.E.
The Laptop I have has the option to password protect the BIOS, and the Hard Drive. In this case just the drive has the password set as it causes a "drive fault" error when placed in a desktop. Another drive placed in the Laptop allows the unit to function normally.
The BIOS password I could deal with, but the drive password has me stumped! I just can't believe it's a dead end. I just haven't discovered the path yet! :-]
I have made appropriate arrangements to "reward" this so called friend of mine. I suppose it's childish, but it sure felt good! ;-]
Thank you.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
Reply to
Louis Bybee
Either that or you stole a laptop and are asking us how to unlock it...
Try here:
formatting link

Reply to
 
Thank you for the reassuring evaluation of my ethics base. :-]
If the Laptop were stolen I can't imagine posting with a traceable EMAIL address?
The Laptop is functional with a different Hard Drive (I am currently using the unit). The value of the locked Hard Drive isn't worth the effort. It's the frustration of not having access to the Hard Drive, and the opportunity to learn something that is driving me at this point.
Thank you for the link. It has more information regarding the issue than I have found so far!
Any other constructive ideas, or suggestions, appreciated!
Thank you.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
Reply to
Louis Bybee
If I remember correctly, I had a desktop or tower PC with a password in BIOS, and there was actually a mother board jumper that enabled you to disable or reset the password. Maybe your laptop has the same feature on the motherboard??
Regards,
Paul
Louis Bybee wrote:
Reply to
pkh
Normally with laptop computers, you have to take the machine to the authorized service centre. You will require personal identification, and most likely the bill of purchase. They can unlock the machine for you. The authorized reps should have the manufacture utilities to zero the password. There is normally a charge of about $50 or so. There are many users who forget their passwords for programs, and complete machines.
You then can give the bill to the person who did this to you, by registered letter. In the letter you tell him that if he does not pay, you will be submitting this bill for legal collection.
Since this is a laptop, password the machine, and never give it to anyone! Make sure you don't forget it.
Reply to
Jerry G.
The machine in question is an older IBM Thinkpad Laptop. I am currently using it with a new Hard Drive. The old drive is locked (he locked the drive only), and taht's what I'm trying to get into. The drive itsself isn't worth any time or expense, but I am determined to learn how to gain access to it. IBM at their Web Site, and the local service center, indicated there is nothing they could do for me.
I am convinced that accessing my drive is possable if I get the proper information. I have received a few suggestions that make me believe I'm well on the way to success!
In a normal situation your advice is spot on, but there is a family connection here, and I would catch it from his mother. I have extracted satisfaction in an anonomous fashion. ;-]
Exactly what I did as soon as the new drive was installed.
Thank you.
Louis--********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
Reply to
Louis Bybee
No, and it was the drive that was locked. A new drive allowed me to use the computer.
I am now trying to gain access to the Hard Drive.
Thank you.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
Reply to
Louis Bybee
Have you tried putting it back into the laptop with the new drive and setting it to slave. Since it will not boot as slave you may be able to retrieve info and reformat it.
Reply to
JJ
Yes I have. On a desktop, and a Laptop.
I have discovered the user, and master password, are resident in the firmware of the drive controller. When the drive is accessed as part of the boot process (regardless if it is a master, or slave) if the drive is locked, and the password hasn't been entered, the drive returns a signal that most systems without a Hard Drive password routine interpret as a failed drive.
It would be interesting to see if the drive password register could be probed to revel the contained data.
I know some method is possible as evidenced by the specialty firms that will unlock a Hard Drive. Just take a wheel barrow full of money with you! :-]
Thank you.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
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Reply to
Louis Bybee
Louis, There is a Linux version that runs from a CD. I think it's called Knoppix or something like that. Possibly with the help of a local geek (no offense intended) you could boot Linux, mount the locked drive, and recover your data. I don't know.
I had a drive one time that all of a sudden became "invisible" to NT4. I copied all my data off that drive with Linux, reformatted it with windows, and moved everything back and the system was back to normal.
Reply to
BG
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Good suggestion, but with the password data resident in the controller card, Linux or any other software that I'm aware of, wont access it. When the BIOS attempts to pole it during bootup the drive returns a drive failure error if the computer lacks a password handling utility (like a Laptop).
What I would really like to discover is if the registers containing the password data are available for probing of the data contained, by external software.
Thank you.
Louis
Reply to
Louis Bybee
Here's an idea: If the drive password is stored in NVRAM in the disk controller itself, swap controller boards with one from an identical drive which hasn't had its password initialized yet.
If it is stored on the disk, you're out of luck unless someone has a hack.
And hopefully, the bad sector map isn't also stored in this same NVRAM.
Reply to
Paul Hovnanian P.E.
I have confirmed that per the ATA Standard the password data is resident on the controller card. It has nothing to do with the platter. There are third party software solutions to lock a drive, and in that case the password is located on the drive media. I have recovered data from a locked Hard Drive by replacing the controller board with an identical unit, and then accessing the drive normally.
There has to be a method to remove the password as evidenced by the services that will unlock a locked Hard Drive for about 1 & 1/2 wheelbarrows full of money. The problem is they are rather tight lipped about the technology. :-]
Thank you.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
Reply to
Louis Bybee
The password (and indeed all firmware) can indeed be stored on the platter. AIUI all IBM ThinkPads do this[*] Without the passwords the motherboard and drive may be toast. Of course there are recovery companies who advertise a try at it. The whole idea behind the scheme was to make the laptop unusable if stolen.
[*
] once upon a time there was a proposal to encrypt all using this PW, but the ThnkPad folks thought they had it all covered with their password scheme.
Reply to
Keith R. Williams
With the IBM Thinkpad I have you can have a BIOS or Boot Password, Hard Drive Password, or an Admin. Password. Someone set the Hard Drive Lock, and the unit required a password at turn on. Not knowing the password, I removed the drive, and tried it on a Desktop. It reported as a failed drive. Using a utility, I discovered the drive was locked with a user password. Replacing the controller card allowed me to recover the data, and use the drive in the Thinkpad again. The Thinkpad also would work with a different drive (the other passwords (BIOS & Admin) hadn't been set).
As I reviewed the ATA Standard, the indication was that the User, and Master passwords, were stored in the firmware (with no placement on the drive media).
I locked a different drive (with a desktop) using the utility I have, and the Laptop requested a password before access, and the Desktop reported a failed drive.
It would appear to me that in this case the drive media wasn't used as a storage medium for the password data.
I would dearly like to hear from someone that has unraveled this enigma!
Thank you.
Louis-- ********************************************* Remove the two fish in address to respond
Reply to
Louis Bybee

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