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HDD password rejected; power-on passwd lost, suspect CMOS

T4x series specific matters only
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davidspalding
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HDD password rejected; power-on passwd lost, suspect CMOS

#1 Post by davidspalding » Sun Jul 27, 2014 1:26 pm

:help: Yesterday morning my T43 2668-75U powered on normally, prompted for fingerprint swipe, accepted it, then prompted for HDD password. All known good passwords are not accepted. Trying to go into BIOS prompted 0271 Date and time error.

Previous config:
Power-on password set ON
HDD password set ON (same password as power-on)
Fingerprint swipe provides power-on password (and hdd password, since the same) set ON
=> Single fingerprint swipe would pass both power-on and HDD passwords, boot up (XP Pro SP3), and login
Last successful boot 7-14 days earlier

Upon removing the battery pack and all HDDs, I booted up, entered BIOS, sure enough the date and time were set to January 1998. Power-password is DISABLED. Set the date and time again, shut down, pulled battery, inserted HDD, inserted battery again, same indications (HDD passwords rejected).

I have a spare T43 (15in model) that someone at work gave me, so presumably a possibly good backup battery spare to use. My old X32 too (which is also not liking previously used power-on passwords, leading to doubts to memory and escrowed password records). Haven't removed the palm rest to test the battery, that's next, though this certainly looks like a bad battery (first power on November 2005). Any suggestions on this are welcomed!

My concern is to the volatility of the security chip and HDD password information. The laptop battery was run low earlier this summer, but for the most part it's been plugged in. It was plugged in since the last successful boot earlier this month. The fact that the T43 prompts for a fingerprint swipe with the drive in (but does not prompt with all media devices out, going into BIOS), tells me that memory of a HDD password is present, but ... is the correct value stored? can it become corrupted? is the HDD now bricked because the CMOS of the host laptop has been reset?

I'm also curious if I should re-enable power-on password, to what I'm 98% certain was the last one ... see if that matches. Typing it manually fails, and I'm mystified why.

If there's a procedure to follow for this, I've appreciate a pointer. It's been years since I was actively engaged here, so I'm a little rusty on the advanced T4x tech. ,:}



Afterward: having experienced this, I think I would not again utilize security features like this. It's given me peace of mind for many years, probably overkill in my use case of a laptop that hasn't left the house much in the last few years of use. But with this failure, though I have good, relatively recent backups, the headache isn't worth it IMHO.
2668-75U T43, 2GB RAM, 2nd hand NMB kybd, Dock II, spare Mini-Dock, and spare Port Replicators. Wacom BT tablet. Ultrabay 2nd HDD.
2672-KBU X32, 1.5GB RAM, 7200 rpm TravelStar HDD.

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Re: HDD password rejected; power-on passwd lost, suspect CMO

#2 Post by rkawakami » Sun Jul 27, 2014 2:14 pm

It sounds like the following happened:

- CMOS battery went flat
- In doing so, it automatically removed any power-on password that may have been in effect
- Dead CMOS battery should not affect hard drive password; it's stored on the drive itself, however...
- Replacing the CMOS battery may have caused the BIOS to be set to default values. In this case that means that the Passphrase option has been set to Disabled.
- If your hard drive password(s) were more than 12 characters and/or included spaces, then you probably had the Passphrase option Enabled.

I'd would try the following:

- Remove hard drive
- Inspect BIOS to see what the Passphrase option is set to. If Disabled, enable it.
- Save BIOS changes
- Shut system down, re-install the hard drive and boot to see if it now accepts your password.

If that doesn't work, then possibly your hard drive has a problem.
Ray Kawakami
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davidspalding
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Re: HDD password rejected; power-on passwd lost, suspect CMO

#3 Post by davidspalding » Sun Jul 27, 2014 4:52 pm

I'm 99.9% sure passphrase option was disabled, my power-on and HDD passwords were lower case letters and numbers, < 8 (perhaps < 10) characters. But I'll try that.

I confirmed with my X32, disconnecting the backup battery cleared power-on password option, but HDD password (in force on that system, too) presented.

davidspalding
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Re: HDD password rejected; power-on passwd lost, suspect CMO

#4 Post by davidspalding » Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:25 pm

rkawakami wrote:...

I'd would try the following:

- Remove hard drive
- Inspect BIOS to see what the Passphrase option is set to. If Disabled, enable it.
- Save BIOS changes
- Shut system down, re-install the hard drive and boot to see if it now accepts your password.

If that doesn't work, then possibly your hard drive has a problem.
No joy, same results, and on the X32 when I replicated it by disconnecting the BIOS battery for an hour.

Clearly I just have to remember the correct password..... Or restore to a new hard drive. :P

davidspalding
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Re: HDD password rejected; power-on passwd lost, suspect CMO

#5 Post by davidspalding » Sun Jan 18, 2015 8:45 am

Follow-up.... Spent four hours trying known previous passwords, finally hit the right one.

Lessons to learn:

1. Keep recent, usable drive partition backups. I still use Norton Ghost. I was able to recover all files for use during this ordeal.

2. Keep the passwords recorded in a safe, secure location. Use of biometric conveniences allow one to forget the underlying authentication bits -- until biometric fails and you must have the alphanumeric password.

3. HDD password protection really works. Do you need it? I really only "need" power on password protection since I use biometric auth to execute that, and then pass through Windows login. That way I auth at power on then can step away (the Thinkpad is always in a secure physical location).


// Tapatalk on iPad - Misspelling courtesy of Logitech BT kybd //
2668-75U T43, 2GB RAM, 2nd hand NMB kybd, Dock II, spare Mini-Dock, and spare Port Replicators. Wacom BT tablet. Ultrabay 2nd HDD.
2672-KBU X32, 1.5GB RAM, 7200 rpm TravelStar HDD.

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