Most personal computers do not have BIOS passwords because the feature must be manually activated by someone. However, many business machines have BIOS passwords set for security reasons, and if you are reading this post, you have probably realized that it is not that easy to break a BIOS password.
Whether or not you can load the operating system depends on how many security settings are enabled. On most modern BIOS systems, you can set a supervisor password, which simply restricts access to the BIOS utility itself, but allows Windows to load. Another option is usually called Boot Up Password or something similar must be enabled for you to see a message before the operating system loads.
It is also worth noting that you may need to open your computer to try to bypass a BIOS password, and if you have a desktop, it is usually much easier. Not only is it easier to open a desktop, it is also much easier to find the component to be removed. In this article I will mention all the different ways you can try to bypass a BIOS password and hopefully it will work.
Method 1 – BIOS Password Backdoor
The easiest way to get past a BIOS password is to use a backdoor password. If it evokes any kind of Edward Snowden thoughts, you’re on the right track. Fortunately and unfortunately, BIOS passwords are not very well protected and this is done on purpose so that technicians and others can help people get into their computers.
This is good because it’s likely to help you access your computer, but it’s bad because anyone who thinks a BIOS password has made their computer super secure is seriously mistaken.
So most BIOS vendors have a fail-safe that displays what is called a checksum of the password when you enter the wrong password more than 3 times. For example, I have an Acer laptop at home, and I went ahead and set a BIOS password and then entered the wrong password three times.
After the third time I got a message about System Disabled but I also got a number displayed just below that message.
All you have to do now is go to a website called BIOS-PW.org and just enter that number! It will give you a set of passwords back to different BIOS tags that match this checksum.
I tried the generic Phoenix password on my laptop and it worked! What’s amazing is that the password I had set on the BIOS was not even the same as the one listed on the website, but it still worked. Without getting too technical, the reason it worked is because the password generated by the website and my password generate the same checksum.
Also, do not worry about the system notification being disabled because it is just a scare tactic. All you have to do is turn off the computer and turn it on again, and you will be able to enter the BIOS password again without any problems. I was quite shocked at how easily this worked, so that’s the first thing you should try before opening your computer.
Method 2 – CMOS battery
Most computers have a small battery installed on the motherboard called a CMOS battery. This small battery is used to keep time and save BIOS settings, even when the computer is out of power. If you decide to change the boot order, disable a USB device, or even set a BIOS password, it would all be meaningless if the settings disappeared when you turned off your computer and took it out.
In older computers, the CMOS battery was responsible for this, but in newer computers, the BIOS and settings are stored in non-volatile storage such as flash memory or EEPROM. This type of storage does not require power and therefore has no limitations like the CMOS battery. Mostly, CMOS is used to maintain the computer’s real-time clock.
Basically, the chances of this working on a modern computer are quite low, but it’s worth a try because the other options are more complicated. You will need to open your desktop bag or laptop panels and find the circular silver battery. Fortunately, it is easy to spot due to its size and shape.
Make sure you turn off your computer completely, unplug all cables, and unplug the power cord before doing so. Use something like a butter knife or flat head screwdriver to pop the battery out. You must wait at least 30 minutes before re-inserting the battery and reconnecting everything.
Unfortunately, on some laptops and newer desktops, you can not even see the CMOS battery anymore. In that case, move on to the next method.
Method 3 – Change jumper settings
The third option would probably be the best chance you have of getting rid of the BIOS password on modern desktops and laptops if the first method did not work. If you have a laptop, you may need to call a technician because you will need full access to the motherboard, which means you will probably need to disassemble it all.
Once you have access to the motherboard, look for a specific jumper. A jumper is basically a number of pins that protrude from the motherboard with a small piece of plastic covering some of the pins. When you move that piece of plastic to cover another set of pins, it changes the settings on the system board.
On most motherboards, even the new ones, you should see a jumper with a label next to it to clear the CMOS or clear the password. Now the label can be one of the following: CLR_CMOS, CLEAR CMOS, CLEAR, CLEAR RTC, JCMOS1, PWD, PSWD, PASSWORD, PASSWD, CLEARPWD and CLR.
There are many jumpers on a motherboard so you will have to search around to find the right one. The best place to look is first around the edges of the motherboard. If not, look closely at the CMOS battery itself. Usually the jumper will consist of three pins with two pins covered. Simply remove the jumper and cover the two opposite pins.
For example, if pins 1 and 2 are covered, remove it and cover pins 2 and 3. If there are only two pins for the jumper, simply remove the cover completely. On a laptop, you may not see jumpers, but dip switches instead. All you have to do here is move the switch up or down.
After changing the jumper setting, go ahead and turn on the computer, check that the password is gone, and then turn it off again. You can then put the jumper back in its original position.
Method 4 – Default BIOS passwords
If nothing else has worked so far, you can always try using some generic or default passwords provided by the manufacturers. Instead of listing them all here, check out this page that has a list of all the default passwords.
Method 5 – CMOSPwd
If you are lucky and the password only protects the BIOS tool and is not required to start Windows, you can try a third-party program that will try to decrypt the password.
The software works with all the major brands like Phoenix, IMB, ACER, AMI BIOS, Compaq, Toshiba etc.
At this point, your only option is to use a professional service to break the BIOS password. They have special tools that they can use to actually remove the BIOS chip from the motherboard and flash it with a new BIOS, thereby removing the password, etc. It will probably cost you anywhere from $ 100 to $ 500 depending on the company. Enjoy!