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Unable to get by BIOS Password

Bought a Dell M4400, understand it was a government computer. It appears to have BIOS passwords that prevents it from booting at all. It asks for a password when powered on. BIOS password removal tools do not work because the password prompt appears before the machine can boot from CD, etc. I've tried removing the battery for 5 minutes, and several other suggestions. I'm not very experienced with laptops and at a loss with one. I would appreciate any ideas. Thanks!

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Dell site says "type in 'dell' and see if that works. Another method Dell suggests is:


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Dell laptops use a master password, but BEWARE: Anything with a Broadwell or newer processor has a baked-in Master lockout option (it was also added retroactively to Haswell systems) in firmware. If this is enabled, the laptop will need a motherboard replacement!
PLEASE READ: If you see this and are asking about a newer computer, normally I am apprehensive to touch these. For the M4400 I'm answering it because anything from the Core 2 (Solo/Duo/Extreme) era is thoroughly decommissioned, as well as 1st gen (Core i), up to 4th gen (Haswell, Core i), same for AMD. The odds of a Core 2 laptop being stolen are so low I'm confident enough that this laptop was legally acquired. If this was a newer system, I would have not answered this.

The reason I will do this (especially unadvertised password issues) is I can either:

  • Remove it in 5 minutes and be done with it. Use new laptop.
  • Start a return, spend ~1-2 hours getting there (or paying for a Uber)
    • wait for it to show
    • get a refund
    • Look again

For locked units, if I'm getting it cheap over this I make sure it's decom old and get the price to match the condition as CYA. When I am alone I will unlock both the Admin and POP passwords and see how to deal with the HDP (if it's present). Once all of this is done, I'm personally wiping the data on the laptop for peace of mind. Sometimes the hard drives are goners if I get one, but that's why I account for it in the unit price; especially ones I know probably use Seagate hard drives. If you knew how to do this, would you not do the same and crack these locked laptops to avoid a headache or score high-end versions cheap?
Essentially what I do applies to ANY TRADE someone knows how to win the lottery and can take home high-end equipment for pretty much nothing.

Here's the thing: In IT, we know all too well and openly laugh at how quickly we can break in and score i7 Precisions over this "issue", the problem to check for is Computrace. Dell also knows, which is why they don't fix it after we got into the series in question wide open. Once we're in, WE ARE IN. This is also why it's garbage tier security as well, even Dell knows this. Sadly, they had to introduce the master lockout because someone complained loud enough. We don't care if it's easy, we cover it in the AUP under the "security configuration" ;). For everyone else outside IT, they know we can get it done so it's not like it's a shock I'm able and willing to open up one of these locked laptops if I know it's not stolen and it's not bricked by that stupid master lockout. Throw the right model at the risk-to-reward factor like a 17" Precision? Am I going to say no? NOPE. If you have an issue, do not ask or do not get involved with me breaking it. It's also a semi-common job on "decommed" units anyway due to IT incompetence.

I'm not going to provide links, but there's a site that can generate it if you look (but the ST MUST MATCH, uppercase and lowercase). On Dell, you need to press F2 or F12 (select BIOS setup if you use F12, as it's the OTBM), generate it, and then press Shift+Enter on these. Once that's done, go under security and make sure Admin says, "Not set" as well as the other security options; they all need to go. NOTE: In some cases, you need to permanently commit the change on the Core 2 machines by typing the master code into the admin prompt under security once you initially bypass the password. Once done, it's done; you can usually get rid of all of them including the HDP but this sometimes requires a unique key not shared by the Admin and POP. I ran into that permanent commitment quirk on an NVS 160M 256MB (900p direct LED motherboard) E6400 I got from a charity I got with the NVS 160M 256MB GPU and 900p direct drive LED display and motherboard.
I happily cracked it at the risk of a future return denial because the spec is desirable and I know how to do it without tampering with the hardware (that said I would do the same on the IGP units as well, but my point stands). When I got in, I showed them the issue (not the method!) and told them I'm fine because I'm in but to check carefully next time.

ALSO, BEWARE OF COMPUTRACE! Contact Absolute SW, give them the ST of the laptop, and get it checked. If it is active, they need to disable that crap server side. You'll need a new drive and a new copy of Windows anyway being the gov't destroys drives, but once it's disabled and rpcnet.exe is dead, you're good. On yours, you can't turn it off on being Persistence 1.0, sadly. 2.0 (Absolute Computrace PK can be disabled once stopped) can be, but you're not that lucky :(. You do not want to use this laptop until it's neutralized. Once it's done, re-wipe the computer and start over with a clean copy of Windows.

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The default Dell Bios password is ( Dell ) for Dell bios master password please visit the Dell Bios master password page

once you have the right dell Bios master password in hands,

type the password and press enter, try also to apply the password from inside BIOS setup.

Also, Dell can issue a 'Master Password' to the owner of the equipment. Unfortunately, you aren't the original owner, and I doubt they transferred ownership via THE DELL TRANSFER OWNERSHIP PAGE. Hopefully you can get back with whoever sold it and organize this so you can get in.

Might be worth a call to Dell customer service anyway. You might have to prove that ownership was transferred somehow, or maybe you get someone who just gives you the password, if you're lucky.

Good luck!

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