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Known HDD password suddenly not accepted after PC crash


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#1 nznomad42

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 09:26 AM

Hi,

 

I am experiencing an unusual issue, which has me a little stumped. I am struggling to pinpoint which hardware part is at fault.

 

I have an Asus laptop with two hard drives; primary drive is an M.2 128GB ssd for operating system only, and the secondary drive is a standard 2.5 inch 1TB HDD.

I have an HDD password set in the Bios, but not a Bios/power on password.

 

The laptop suddenly froze and became unresponsive yesterday, and I was forced to power it off and on again.

However, on powering on, it prompted the HDD password as usual, but it kept saying the password was incorrect.

I have not entered the bios for months, and have not changed the password, so this was very strange. My initial thought therefore was some kind of virus had changed it somehow maybe.

 

I opened the back and removed the HDD, and powered on without it, and there was no password prompt anymore. However, it did not boot from the SSD as I would expect it to. Instead it just went to bios settings.

In the settings, the SSD is visible under SATA settings, but it will not boot from it or anything.

I booted from a USB stick with Windows 10 installation media on it, and went into a command prompt, but cannot see the SSD at all.

 

When I put the HDD back in, the password prompt was back, and still will not accept the correct PW.

 

I tried it the other way round. Removing the SSD but leaving HDD in. Same problem. password prompt comes up.

 

I have put the HDD into a caddy and connected to another PC. It will not assign a drive letter, as expected, but the drive is visible in Computer Management (though it says it needs to be initialised and formatted).

I fitted the HDD into another laptop as primary and powered it on. It did not ask for password, but just halted. I went into bios, and the drive recognises, but cannot be accessed (as expected).

 

I put another HDD into the problem laptop then booted from USB, and was able to install Windows 10 on it and boot from it, so it doesn't seem to be a controller/system board issue.

 

What I cannot work out is;

If the faulty part is the SSD drive, which seems to be the case, then why does the HDD password not still work on the HDD? Is it possible that when you set an HDD password, both drives are locked, and one won't open without the other?

If that is the case, if I replaced the SSD and set the same HDD password on it, would both suddenly become accessible again?

 

If the problem, however, is the HDD, then why does the SSD no longer boot or show up?

 

It's all a bit confusing. 

I don't really need access to the locked HDD, but I'm reluctant to buy a new HDD and/or SSD  until I can figure out what part is actually faulty and why it has affected the other.

Having said that...if the HDD is not the faulty item, then given that I do know the correct password (and am not trying to crack it or anything), how can I possible regain access to it using a USB caddy?

 

I wondered if anyone had any higher knowledge of the way bios(uefi) set HDD passwords work with multiple drives and if it is indeed possible for one faulty drive to take the other one with it.

 

Any insight or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

 



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#2 JohnC_21

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 10:27 AM

Can you access the UEFI settings with the SSD and HDD attached before it boots to Windows and clear the HDD password in the UEFI settings? If this is a desktop some motherboards have a HDD jumper to clear the password.

 

Interesting post here. It all depends on the BIOS itself whether all drives are locked.



#3 nznomad42

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 02:01 AM

Hi,

Thanks for your response.

With just the SSD attached, it goes straight into the UEFI, and there is no password setup in the settings.

With the HDD attached the password prompt comes up and the correct password will not work, so I cannot get past the prompt to either attempt to boot or get into the UEFI settings.

Unfortunately it is a laptop , so no jumpers to reset passwords, though it is my understanding the HDD password is stored on the HDD itself, not the UEFI?



#4 JohnC_21

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 07:15 AM

Correct, the HDD password is stored in firmware on the drive itself. Some Manufacturers have a master password they can provide if you provide proof of ownership but I think on the later models recovery is not possible unless using some high end equipment



#5 mightywiz

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 05:21 PM

try these for your drive.

 

List of hard disk ata master passwords

Ferreted this out after some hours of web searching, guess I can spare you the same trouble

If you find this stuff useful, please do leave a comment, “hi, it worked” is enough.

(nb: see my previous post for unlocking instructions)

SEAGATE -> “Seagate” +25 spaces

MAXTOR
series N40P -> “Maxtor INIT SECURITY TEST STEP ” +1 or +2 spaces
series N40P -> “Maxtor INIT SECURITY TEST STEP F”
series 541DX -> “Maxtor” +24 spaces
series Athena (D541X model 2B) and diamondmax80 -> “Maxtor”

WESTERN DIGITAL -> “WDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWD” or

“WDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCWDCW”

FUJITSU -> 32 spaces

SAMSUNG -> “ttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt” (32 times t)

IBM
series DTTA -> “CED79IJUFNATIT” +18 spaces
series DJNA -> “VON89IJUFSUNAJ” +18 spaces
series DPTA -> “VON89IJUFSUNAJ” +18 spaces
series DTLA -> “RAM00IJUFOTSELET” +16 spaces
series DADA-26480 (6,4gb) -> “BEF89IJUF__AIDACA” +15 spaces

HITACHI series DK23AA, DK23BA and DK23CA -> 32 spaces

TOSHIBA -> 32 spaces


Edited by mightywiz, 13 April 2018 - 05:26 PM.


#6 nznomad42

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 10:14 AM

Thank you both for your advice and suggestions.

I finally got to the bottom of it the problem;

 

I was mistaken about one fact in my initial explanation. I realised I had not, in fact, tried booting the PC with the HDD installed but with the SSD removed. I thought I had, but was remembering wrongly :o(

 

When I did so, the password prompt came up as expected, but it actually accepted the password this time. I was then able to go in to the UEFI settings and unlock the HDD.

 

I now know that it is the SSD that is the villain of this piece.

What I still don't understand is why the correct password was not being accepted whilst the SSD was installed but was accepted when it was removed. Yet when only the SSD was installed without the HDD, there was no password prompt at all.

All very strange, but at least I know which part is at fault and can get it replaced.

 

I was not expecting to get access to the HDD again to be honest, so being able to unlock it was a happy bonus too. I didn't really need the data, as it is all backed up, but it's nice not to have a 1TB hdd being wasted as a paperweight

(Though I was definitely ready to try mightywiz's suggestion above if necessary to try to salvage it. Very nice and useful information indeed by the way!  Thanks for that mightywiz )

 

So thanks again John C and mightywiz for your advice and suggestions. It was very very much appreciated.



#7 JohnC_21

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 11:02 AM

Nice Troubleshooting. Thanks for taking the time to post an update and your solution.






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