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Reset BIOS / CMOS password using CMOSPwd

As an IT administrator in recent years, there are some occasions when I am a little over the top in security and do things to lock myself from a computer. An example is setting a BIOS or CMOS password that I will never remember.

If you can't remember a BIOS or CMOS password, you're pretty screwed because you won't even be able to start Windows. Previously, I had written about a way to reset a BIOS password using a couple of different techniques, which is the first thing to try in this situation.

I recently found another program that can be used to recover a CMOS or BIOS password. CmosPwd works with Dos, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003, Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD.

The program basically decodes the password stored in CMOS, which is used to access the BIOS configuration. Now this program won't work with all BIOSes out there, but here are the ones I will work with:

  • AMI WinBIOS 2.5
  • Premium 4.5x / 4.6x / 6.0
  • Compaq (1992)
  • Compaq (new version)
  • IBM (PS / 2, Activa, Thinkpad)
  • Packard Bell
  • Phoenix 1.00.09.AC0 (1994), a486 1.03, 1.04, 1.10 A03, 4.05 rev 1.02.943, 4.06 rev 1.13.1107
  • Phoenix 4 release 6 (User)
  • Gateway Solo – Phoenix 4.0 version 6
  • Toshiba
  • LOVE Zenith

If you are lucky enough to have one of these, you may be able to easily recover your password. Using the program requires some command prompt, so make sure you are familiar with it before using it.

Basically, to run it, go to the command prompt and to the CD in the directory where you stored the file. At the command prompt, type CMOSPWD and press Enter.

You will get a list of possibilities that you can compare with your BIOS manufacturer.

To recover the password, you have to write down the value to the right of the BIOS you have installed and then you have to type cmospwd / m (xxx) to run the form. If that doesn't work, you can kill the BIOS using the / k option.

However, DO NOT kill CMOS if you are recovering the password for a laptop. On laptops the CMOS password is usually stored in an eeprom on the motherboard, therefore an eeprom programmer is needed to recover it.

Since using the program is a little tricky, be sure to read the instructions provided in advance. To enjoy!