How to get around a forgotten BIOS password
December 27, 2000 (as amended)

method 1: attempt to use backdoor passwords

These include:


this data courtesy the Eleventh Alliance

method 2A: flash the BIOS (ATX-style BIOSes)

Download the latest BIOS to suit your motherboard from the motherboard manufacturer's website. Use it to "flash" (update) the BIOS. This will erase the contents of the BIOS including the password. However it will also reset the BIOS to factory defaults. You may wish to note down the various settings beforehand (if possible).

method 2B: remove the BIOS from the motherboard (AT-style BIOSes)

Use a jeweller's screwdriver to gently lever each end of the chip with the shiny label - it should say BIOS on it. It is a relatively large chip in a mounting. It is NOT soldered to the motherboard - its legs press into a cradle. It is about 3cm long and 1cm wide.

Before you remove it, examine the ends of the chip. One end will have a little notch on it. This is "pin 1". Pin 1 must go back in the same end of the cradle it came out of. That is, the chip must be replaced in the same orientation. This is not a problem because there is also a little notch in the end of the cradle, being the matching pin 1. So, when you replace the chip, make sure the notch end of the chip is at the notch end of the cradle.

A quick way to recall which way is up is to note the direction of the writing on the label, relative to the rest of the motherboard, before you remove it.

Powering on the PC with the BIOS in backwards may break it.

Try not to touch the pins as static electricity may damage the chip. Try not to handle it much once you have removed it, and only handle it by the ends.

Once you have removed it simply leave it removed for half an hour, more if need be - although try it after half an hour. Then, plug it back in, the right way around, and power-on.

You will probably need to reconfigure your BIOS setup.

Unplugging the BIOS prevents it from using the motherboard battery to remember the password (and all its other settings).

method 3: clear the password using jumpers provided on the motherboard

The motherboard manufacturer MAY provide an emergency "password clear" jumper (exposed metal contacts). The jumper may be either two pins, or simply two blobs of metal, and it may or may not be labelled. To use the jumper, short it out - that is, connect the two pins, using the flat blade of a screwdriver, a short wire. Do NOT attempt this unless you're certain you're looking at a "password clear" jumper. If you short the wrong jumper, you'll probably break the computer.

To determine whether the computer has a "password clear" jumper, consult the service manual provided by the manufacturer.

method 4: remove the hard drive from the computer

If you are unable to crack the password, and are unable to remove the BIOS, you may not be able to use the computer until you discover an alternative strategy. In the meantime, you may wish to get at your data. To do this, unplug the hard drive, and plug it into a different computer.