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BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 1:32 pm
by BeBop
I just purchased an old Toshiba Satellite M505-4940 laptop to install Linux Mint upon. When I turned it on, it would not display the flash screen, only a message saying the hard drive was locked and proceeding could damage the OS. Not caring about the existing OS, I went ahead with it, only to be stopped with another message asking for a BIOS password. Since I bought this from a mass used computer broker, they are useless in finding the password, and none of the backdoor passwords work with laptops. I removed the hard drive and when it booted, it went directly to the bios password lock.

My question is: is there any Linux utility that will let me access and modify the BIOS once I boot from the CD without a hard drive?

I was able to find what I believe to be the CMOS jumper pins under the memory, and when I did a jump across them (power disconnected, battery out, hard drive out, and memory out) and rebooted without the hard drive, but reinserting the memory, and tapping the F12 key to select boot source, it came up asking for the password again and after 3 wrong answers, it allowed the Linux Mint 20 xfce CD to boot. So, I had it running from the CD, but this procedure only works some of the time, mostly it just powers off. And, the CMOS jumper is well under the bottom memory stick, so there's no opportunity to jump it and power it on with the memory in place, since the memory blocks access.

Again, this brings me to; Is there a utility that I can download on this laptop while running the Live CD that will allow me to access the BIOS and then change or remove the password on the BIOS? If so, then I'll ask about unlocking the hard drive, but that's for another time, first things first.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 2:01 pm
by msseufert
On resetting the BIOS I found this: https://bit.ly/3fiwOka

The way I understand it, the BIOS can't be tampered with by the OS itself. The purpose of this is to prevent people from bypassing the BIOS password. In UEFI I believe limited access can be granted to a few select features. As for the BIOS password issue, the BIOS is the first thing to start, so no OS can interrupt the BIOS asking for a password since the loading of the OS is essentially the last step in the boot process while running the BIOS and POST are the first.

As for this: "And, the CMOS jumper is well under the bottom memory stick, so there's no opportunity to jump it and power it on with the memory in place, since the memory blocks access."

The purpose of the jumper is to provide enough electricity to the motherboard to clear it's settings. You should be able to power on the system without RAM just enough to clear the CMOS settings. Of course it will not boot completely as it will fail POST. POST stands for Power On Self Test. It's the process that the computer takes to check for required hardware, like RAM, and it will error out if the test fails.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:32 am
by ricardogroetaers
Remove the battery from the BIOS (clock), it looks like a coin (the most common is a CR-2032).
This will erase the setup settings, including a password entered, if any.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 12:55 pm
by MartyMint
ricardogroetaers wrote:
Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:32 am
Remove the battery from the BIOS (clock), it looks like a coin (the most common is a CR-2032).
This will erase the setup settings, including a password entered, if any.
It's....a laptop.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:25 pm
by JerryF
Lots of laptops have CMOS batteries.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 5:48 pm
by MartyMint
JerryF wrote:
Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:25 pm
Lots of laptops have CMOS batteries.
That store BIOS information on volatile RAM?

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 6:01 pm
by DAMIEN1307
That particular Toshiba model does have a cmos battery and removing it will reset/disable that password if left out for a while before reinserting...it will complain after that about date/time not set though which you will have to do after getting past this frist problem by going into the bios to set date/time manually until new OS is put in...DAMIEN

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 6:26 pm
by MartyMint
I've yet to see anything other than anectdotal evidence that this works.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 6:36 pm
by DAMIEN1307
I've yet to see anything other than anectdotal evidence that this works.
I had the exact same model that i got as a donation from who knows where that was likewise locked...That is the first thing i did and it worked...I then refurbished it and installed LM 19.2 on it for a fellow senior citizen in need...The only thing i might add is making sure to discharge the capacitors via holding down the start button when removing the main power battery before opening the case to remove the cmos battery...you want to have zero juice available to the capacitors etc before removing cmos...(capacitive discharge)...Its an old ham radio trick we used to do back in the day before we worked on troubleshooting our rigs...DAMIEN

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:00 pm
by BeBop
Thanks for the great input Damien1307, MartyMint, and JerryF. I have this laptop at my workspace where I can only access it during the weekdays, so I will certainly give the CMOS battery purge a shot tomorrow and report back what happens. I say tomorrow, but it looks like I will need to disassemble the shell a bit to access that battery, so it may be Tuesday.
I still don't understand how I got past it intermittently and was able to boot it with Live CD Mint 20 xfce.

And, I take it that there's no Linux software that accesses the BIOS like the Windows program that comes with Toshiba from the get-go.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 1:58 pm
by BeBop
Damien1307, ricardogroetaers, MartyMint, and JerryF, I've gotten back to the laptop to pull the CMOS battery. It is no simple feat to get to it! I had to take the keyboard off, remove a dozen or more screws to take the back off, another fistfull of screws to release the motherboard from the main body of the top, and still more to remove the motherboard in order to get to the bottom where the CMOS resides. So, with screws eveerywhere, in many different sizes for each step of the way, I finally accessed that battery. It is much smaller than the 2032 that I expected, it's actually a bit over 1 cm across, and it's soldered to the motherboard! Toshiba has gone way out of their way to make this difficult for me!!! It looks like my choices now are 1) go out and get a soldering iron to remove the battery and then reconnect it. 2) Get a soldering iron and remove the battery and buy a new one to replace it. 3) put a jumper across the battery to drain it, and hope that once it fully drains, it will re-charge itself once everything is reassembled. 4) Put it back together and go the route of soldering across the jumpers (assuming that I've correctly identified the jumpers) and make it never able to set a bios password again. 5) Sell the components and/or transplant them on other laptops, then deep-six the remnants and call it a lesson learned.

Thanks to you folks for the help, I'll let you know if I'm able to resurrect this monster.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 2:00 pm
by DAMIEN1307
I would try the jumper approach myself...DAMIEN

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:42 pm
by JerryF
BeBop wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 1:58 pm
Damien1307, ricardogroetaers, MartyMint, and JerryF, I've gotten back to the laptop to pull the CMOS battery. It is no simple feat to get to it! I had to take the keyboard off, remove a dozen or more screws to take the back off, another fistfull of screws to release the motherboard from the main body of the top, and still more to remove the motherboard in order to get to the bottom where the CMOS resides. So, with screws eveerywhere, in many different sizes for each step of the way, I finally accessed that battery. It is much smaller than the 2032 that I expected, it's actually a bit over 1 cm across, and it's soldered to the motherboard! Toshiba has gone way out of their way to make this difficult for me!!! It looks like my choices now are 1) go out and get a soldering iron to remove the battery and then reconnect it. 2) Get a soldering iron and remove the battery and buy a new one to replace it. 3) put a jumper across the battery to drain it, and hope that once it fully drains, it will re-charge itself once everything is reassembled. 4) Put it back together and go the route of soldering across the jumpers (assuming that I've correctly identified the jumpers) and make it never able to set a bios password again. 5) Sell the components and/or transplant them on other laptops, then deep-six the remnants and call it a lesson learned.

Thanks to you folks for the help, I'll let you know if I'm able to resurrect this monster.
Oh jeez! I didn't realize that the battery would be soldered in place. That's super annoying.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2020 3:59 pm
by MartyMint
BeBop wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 1:58 pm
Toshiba has gone way out of their way to make this difficult for me!!!
Yes. That's the point of having a BIOS password.
BeBop wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 1:58 pm
1) go out and get a soldering iron...
You don't have much experience disassembling laptops?
And you've never soldered before?

If this laptop has any value to you, take it to a shop.
If not, hack away my chum.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 4:25 am
by ricardogroetaers
For example:

Image

Image

However, luck is not always achieved.
To make an omelet you have to break the eggs.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:31 pm
by BeBop
Thanks for all the input guys, I just want to say, MartyMint - I've never broken a laptop down to the motherboard level before, I've always just taken them to the point needed to replace boards and components, and the one time I tried to replace a CPU, I didn't get the thermal paste spread properly (too thick, too thin, maybe uneven, I'm still not sure) but I ended up frying the new CPU, so I tend to stay away from serious stuff. As for soldering, I've not had to solder since Radio Shack went out of business, that was the last place that I know of to get a bit of solder on the weekend. And Damien1307, it is looking like the best approach from here is to go back, re-assemble the laptop, and re-visit the jumper. And ricardogroetaers, thanks for the pic, this is exactly what my motherboard looks like. Could I persuade you to point out exactly which connections are the jumpers? I think I've identified them deep under the memory sticks, but a second opinion would be most welcome.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:38 pm
by ricardogroetaers
BeBop wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 5:31 pm
I've never broken a laptop down to the motherboard level before, ..And ricardogroetaers, thanks for the pic, this is exactly what my motherboard looks like. Could I persuade you to point out exactly which connections are the jumpers? I think I've identified them deep under the memory sticks, but a second opinion would be most welcome.
The first time we never forget. :x :shock: :oops:
This is usually written near the jumper itself on the motherboard.
Use a magnifying glass if necessary.
Look for the motherboard manual.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:16 am
by gittiest personITW
3) put a jumper across the battery to drain it,
Just to say DONT put a jumper across the battery. You're not aiming to drain or short circuit the battery, your aim is to short out the jumpers on the motherboard (which on most laptops can be a pig to figure out whether it is even possible or not)

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:30 am
by Pierre
if you are in this very scenario ..
and you are Not prepared to dis-assemble an Laptop .. your options are limited.
:arrow:

you can search on the Internet, and there is some web sites that can assist .. with an backdoor password.
- you do have to Pay them .. most Do have an Money Back guarantee. however.
the few Times that I've had to do this, they were always an USA based site .. requiring some $USD
- this typically was in the order of about $30 - $50AUD & I've passed that cost onto the owner of the Laptop,
on top of what they had asked me, to fix up . .

what they then eMail you .. is an list of passwords, that you can type in,
at that BIOS password prompt .. or that HDD password prompt.
- - if the list of several passwords, doesn't work .. you can ask for an refund.

they won't say, where they got those passwords from,
and they do ask you to state, just which one, did work.

also .. unlike the Windows System ... where you can indeed bypass / reset that password,
with some software method .. there may also be such an software method, in this type of scenario
or you may have to resort, to some-one's list of passwords, that you could have to purchase.

Re: BIOS and Hard Drived locked in Toshiba laptop

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2020 12:25 pm
by urdrwho
ricardogroetaers wrote:
Sun Nov 22, 2020 4:32 am
Remove the battery from the BIOS (clock), it looks like a coin (the most common is a CR-2032).
This will erase the setup settings, including a password entered, if any.
It will look like a coin unless the CMOS battery is like the one on the P855-S5312. On the P855 it was soldered to the board. Easy job but just remember have a hot hot gun, don't linger on the board and it takes very little time.

The jumper on my P855 is under the ram but on the P855 ram is easy to remove. Two very little copper looking points to jumper. You can use a piece of copper wire.