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What Can I Do About a Lost BIOS Password?

A screenshot of a BIOS configuration screen.
A CMOS chip, which holds the information BIOS needs to start.
If you lose your BIOS password, you will be unable to boot your computer.
Article Details
  • Written By: Rolando Braza
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Images By: Aaron Parecki, Ing_Masa, Jamdesign
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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If you lose your basic input/output system (BIOS) password, you will be unable to complete the booting process of your computer; consequently, you will not be able to continue and run your application programs. Keep your cool because there are three options that you yourself can perform to go around the problem of a lost BIOS password. The first option is the use of the password provided by the manufacturer of your computer. The second option is to erase or reset the password through the hardware. Finally, you can use a utility software specifically made to bypass or recover a lost BIOS password.

If you choose the first option to deal with a lost BIOS password, you will have to refer to the manual that came with your computer or consult its manufacturer to obtain what is commonly known as the backdoor password. This password is specific to each and every manufacturer. It is generally used by in-house technicians of manufacturers to perform hardware tests on a batch of computers before being released from the production line. Manufacturers typically change the backdoor password to safeguard the computers from industrial espionage.

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Resetting or erasing the BIOS password through the hardware will require you to do some tinkering on the hardware. You will have to locate the complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS), which contains the BIOS password and other hardware settings needed to make your computer work properly. The CMOS has a round battery similar to the battery of a wristwatch. Removing the battery for 10 to 15 minutes will clear the CMOS contents, including the BIOS password. The CMOS battery of some computers is soldered, making it difficult to remove; thus, you may want to consider the other option to reset or recover the lost BIOS password through the hardware.

The other way to reset the lost BIOS password is to change the position of the jumper to tell the computer to clear the BIOS password in the CMOS. The jumper has three pins aligned in a row and typically located near the CMOS in the motherboard of the computer. Two pins next to each other are covered by a jumper switch. Pull out the jumper switch and insert it to cover the center pin and the pin next to it that was previously uncovered. Switch on the computer to effect the change in the hardware setting and clear the password before switching off the computer to put the jump switch back to its original position.

If the backdoor password is unavailable or does not work and you do not feel comfortable with the available hardware solutions, use a password recovery software. You may write your own program or download from the Internet a commercial or a freeware version of the password recovery tool. Most of the programs automatically execute as soon as you boot your computer to the disk operating system (DOS). If this solution still does not work, it is time to turn to the computer manufacturer for help.

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