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Recovering data from password protected HDD, laptop broken

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rodnebb
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Recovering data from password protected HDD, laptop broken

#1 Post by rodnebb » Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:27 am

Hi,
I have an old venerable X31 2672 which I've used until recently. Unfortunately, I put it on a bed and I believe it overheated - in any case it is quite dead and doesn't boot.

I would like to recover the data, but the hdd is password protected. This means that when I built the hdd out and put it into a cabinet it would not start. I was not able to give in the password - and consequently I can't get at the data.

Have anyone experienced the same problem, and resolved it?

I see two ways at this. The simplest would perhaps be to manage to boot from the HDD, with the HDD connected to another computer - but I haven't managed to do this. Is it possible, and what would I have to do?

The second way could be to fix my X31. Parts are cheap, a new motherboard would cost less than a cabinet to hook up the HDD, but, if I were to do this - would I be able to get at the data? Does the HDD have any protection to prevent this?

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Re: Recovering data from password protected HDD, laptop broken

#2 Post by rkawakami » Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:59 am

Welcome to thinkpads.com!

In theory, you should be able to mount the drive in most any other X31 and it should allow you to enter the password. That would be about the only way you could boot a computer with that drive. If the hardware is too different that an X31, then you'll more than likely get a blue screen and a halt. You should also be able to mount the drive as a secondary drive to any other Thinkpad of that era (i.e, in an Ultrabay adapter) and again, it should allow you to enter the password. You'll have to be careful to not allow the host Thinkpad to attempt to boot from that drive. You can either press the F12 at power on to access the boot drive selection menu, or insert the X31 drive in the Ultrabay adapter to a laptop that's already been booted but put into sleep/standby mode.

Note, that I've never personally tried this but from my understanding it should work. The main reason why I suggest using a Thinkpad from about the same era as the X31 is that the password system and/or BIOS may have changed. I can't say for sure this is true but I'd try to minimize any chances of incompatibilities. The password is stored in the drive itself. As far as I know, there's nothing to prevent you from accessing the drive as long as it's still functional and that you have it attached to a system which has the same type of password protection system as your X31.
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Re: Recovering data from password protected HDD, laptop broken

#3 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:20 am

Ray's method should work on most Thinkpads from around that era up to T42/R51 (but NOT on T43/R52/T60/R60/X60/Z60/Z61).
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rodnebb
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Re: Recovering data from password protected HDD, laptop broken

#4 Post by rodnebb » Wed Jan 13, 2016 8:48 am

Thanks.

This basically means I'll have to buy a x31 motherboard or x31 laptop and put in my harddrive.

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Re: Recovering data from password protected HDD, laptop broken

#5 Post by evening_hunger » Wed Jan 13, 2016 9:01 am

Interesting. Could someone elaborate on this 'hdd password protection'? Does it mean encrypted (I doubt it would)? As far as I understand, connecting such a hdd to some kind of SATA adapter would expose the data to any system, as long as the hdd isn't encrypted? Sounds a bit funny one would have to buy a laptop to get to its data...
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Re: Recovering data from password protected HDD, laptop broken

#6 Post by RealBlackStuff » Wed Jan 13, 2016 9:10 am

Not necessarily.
Check if any of your friends have an A20/A22/A30/A31 or R50/R51 or T20/T21/T22/T23/T30/T40/T41/T42/ or X20/X21/X22/X24.
Plenty of choice I'd say. Your HD will fit in any of those.
All you need to do is then boot into BIOS with F1 at start, and remove the HD-password.
After that you can access the HD (via e.g. USB adapter) on any other PC or laptop.

@evening_hunger:
With such a password the HD is not encrypted, but ANY access is FULLY denied, regardless, unless you know/remove the password.

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