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  1. #16
    Joined
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Mumbai, India
    Posts
    1,084

    Re: Hard drive locked

    If you can enter the BIOS, then the BIOS isn't password protected.

    Unfortunately my earlier reply was correct. The hard drive is password locked. It will not open on any other machine.

    I'm attaching a few links that show you exactly how secure this sytem of locking up a machine really is.

    http://www.eevidencelabs.com/article..._Forensics.pdf
    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/02/1828217
    http://www.wwpi.com/index.php?option...669&Itemid=129

    1000 dollars to unlock a drive!

  2. #17
    Joined
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
    Age
    70
    Posts
    585

    Re: Hard drive locked

    I would follow rdgrimes suggestion to restore the MBR of Windows, assuming that is the system running.

    The command suggested should be
    Code:
    fdisk /mbr
    for Dos to Windows XP using a Dos floppy or
    Code:
    fixmbr
    for all Windows except Vista using any Win2k or XP installation CD and boot it to a recovery console.

    For Vista just use the original installation DVD

    Restoring the MBR, which is the first 512 bytes of the first boot disk does not harm or change the operating system. What it will do is to restore the system's original MBR, thereby overwriting any other boot loader occupying there.

    For more details take a look at the "Just booting tips".

    Restoring Windows MBR is a good move as many boot loaders do offer password protection and could be the reason making the hard disk is inaccessible. This cure is Windows-only and doesn't require the use of Linux which may be foreign to many PC usrers.

  3. #18
    Joined
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Hamilton, New Zealand.
    Age
    45
    Posts
    925

    Re: Hard drive locked

    Quote Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post
    What would "fdisc MBR" do in this case?
    I'm curious about this too, but i was thinking about booting to recovery console from an xp cd and and running fixboot or fixmbr...
    Another thought would be to put the drive in an enclosure and have a good look at the partition table as i suspect what was once the primary partition is not any more. In any case make an image of the the whole hdd structure before making any changes.

    G'luck with it.

  4. #19
    Joined
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    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
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    70
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    585

    Re: Hard drive locked

    I am repeating myself but there is absolutely no need to take the hard disk out and put it in an enclosure just to check it.

    Just use any PC to download any Linux iso, burn it into a CD and boot it up on the locked up PC. The Linux can interrogate the hard disk many times better than any MS Windows because unlike a MS system Linux supports vitually all PC operating systems and able to identify their partitions.

    With a modern Linux like Slax, which mounts all the partitions automatically, gives the user the root privilege (equivalent to Admin rights in Windows), loads the ntfs-3g which permits writing on NTFS partition and allows the user log in to the desktop, a user can do drag and drop with all the files from hard disk to hard disk.

    Linux is the best and the biggest utility any MS Windows user can hope for especially when it come to handling of hard disk and partitions.

    As a simple example whenever a partition is created to have a NTFS filing system there is a byte written in the reserved position in the 16-byte long partition table to denote the partition type. The partition type 7 is used by NTFS but Windows users are kept in the dark about it. Change this number to 17 will make the partition hidden. Type 6 is for Fat16 and Type c is for Fat32. All these information are PC standard used by every operating system including Dos and Windows but how many experienced Windows users know about them?

    If a Windows user ever getting into trouble with a hard disk and wants a second opinion of its health then Linux is the ticket. Even if a hard disk half-dead with corruption there is a good chance a Linux could retrieve some of the data because Linux can be instructed to read only the "1" and "0" of the whatever good information left behind, partition by partition or even sector by sector down to byte by bye.

    Think Linux if you have a hard disk problem.

  5. #20
    Joined
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Mumbai, India
    Posts
    1,084

    Re: Hard drive locked

    saikee - this is not a windows issue. It is a protected area of the drive which the OS (or any disk utilities) cannot access without the password.

    Laptops make it very easy to lock down drives, the desktop experience is not equivalent to it. A locked drive needs a specialist or a specialist software (not cheap). If, that is, the problem is being diagnosed correctly.

  6. #21
    Joined
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    67

    Re: Hard drive locked

    still as of today no hope, formating the disk or reinstalling the drive is not going to happen due to the password lock. though it did cross my mind to try and boot it through the recovery console, but the XP install cd wont even recognize the drive nor any of its partitions. with out the password theres no access to the drive itself, and purseing the password is out of the question, since my GF and her sis or not in speaking terms..

    i dont know what linux will do but i can give it a shot, maybe it will allow me to access data on the disk and hopefully recover it. thats if the password does not become a problem and im guessing that it will.

  7. #22
    Joined
    Jun 2004
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    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
    Age
    70
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    585

    Re: Hard drive locked

    I never say it is a Windows issue.

    My suspicison has always been with the boot loader.

    If the problem is related to a boot loader and since every boot loader must reside in the boot sector of a partition and that is a 100% hard disk issue to me and unrelated to the fact it is in a laptop.

    I never made any distinction between a desktop or a Laptop, 2.5" or 3.5" disk size when it come to a hard disk. A hard disk partition is just a hard disk partition and must appear exactly the same in every operating system. Thus I don't know if it is easier to be locked if the disk is moved into a laptop.

    Every OS can access any part of a hard disk if one knows how to use the command prompt. The problem here seems to be the OS is not able boot. The password program in such case is likely supplied by the boot loader and is part of the boot code.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have this message to the OP on the recovery of the data and booting to it.

    Every MS partition has its first full track (track 0) reserved as the boot sector. The first sector (512 bytes) of the first partition is read by the bIos to start the booting operation of that disk and is traditionally called the Master Boot Record (MBR). The MBR is too small to do anything and so the boot loader proper resides in the second sector onward.

    If the hard disk is locked when the hard disk starts to boot because you have the correct password then it is the boot loader problem.

    Many boot loader, like Grub for example, actually resides outside the boot sector but can be hard-coded with a link to the MBR. This means the boot loader that is locking you out will have a full occupation of the MBR and may or may not wholly residing in the boot sector.

    If you are able to boot up a XP installation CD and issue the command "fixmbr" XP installer will overwrite the MBR with the MS own version fo the MBR and so your XP becomes bootable.

    If however the foreign boot loader has occupied both MBR and the boot sector then you may have to do both "fixboot" and "fixmbr" in order to restore XP's boot loader.

    BY the sound of your last post that XP installer cannot recognise your hard disk this can mean big trouble. This information suggests XP installer could not find a MS partition or any partition it recognises and so the partition type may have been changed too. Changing a partition type can be a result of another operating system has been installed on top of the existing WIndows. If that is the case you can kiss your hard disk and all its data good bye.

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    How to find out what happen to your hard disk with a Linux Live CD

    (1) Use another computer to down load Slax. This distro is only about 100Mb large and is one of the most versatile. You get an iso file out of it and can use Nero to burn it as an CD image. The CD will become bootable automatically. An iso file is a continuous single file in accordance with the iso9660 filing standard.

    (2) Since your laptop can boot to XP installation CD so it will boot up Linux Live CD too. When a Linux Live CD is run, in your case it is Slax, the operating system is totally self contained between the internal memory and the CD. You have no need to install it. When you switch off the PC and remove the CD nothing will remain. The Linux will be a fully operational OS whenever it is booted.

    (3) In any Linux a partition is mounted as a subdirectory. The mounting point is either /media or /mnt. Slax use /mnt to mount all your partitions. You just click the home icon (a red house icon at the desktop) and keep clicking until you see /mnt and you will find all the hard partitions of your PC there.

    (4) A modern Linux calls the first Pata disk as hda, the 2nd hdb, the 3rd hdc, the 4th hdd etc but later kernels may standardise on sda, sdb, sdc and sdd. The partition is a number after the disk. Thus the first partition of the first hard disk is sda1 and the 4th partition of the second hard disk is sdb4. If you have only one partition and one hard disk then there should be only /mnt/hda1 or /mnt/sda1 in the directory of /mnt. Normally clicking the directory name will show up the filing system inside that partition.

    (5) If your XP installer fails to read the partition you should then check its partition type. As in WIndows if you right click the folder and then select properties you should see its description. A more precise way is to use the terminal mode. The following terminal command (equivalent to command prompt in XP) will list every partition of every hard disk in your system. The partition ID is the partition type. I suspect your partition has been changed to a non-ms type to make the Xp installer unable to recognise it.
    Code:
    fdisk -l
    A MS Windows supports only the partitions created by its fellow systems and non-MS partitions are not supported, not mounted and hence not recognised.

    Let us know how you get on with the above and we can advise if data retrieval possible or not. If your XP partition is still Type 7, indicating it is a NTFS partition, then your data should be still intact.

    Your Slax will fire up the Internet automatically if you have a networked broadband. You can use the mouse to highlight any Linux terminal to copy and paste into your post raise any question.

    Slax can be used with absolutely no Linux experience. For checking hard disks you need to know how their device names are called outside Windows. Solaris and BSD systems also use different device names for hard disk partitions but their content, partition sizes, geometry layouts and partition types never changed between OSes.
    Last edited by saikee; 06-03-2008 at 12:05 PM.

  8. #23
    Joined
    May 2002
    Location
    Kansas
    Age
    33
    Posts
    1,088

    Re: Hard drive locked

    I'd like to re-mention a fact I brought up yesterday which seems to have been glossed over. If you have moved the hard drive to another machine which gives the same problem and all programs still refuse to see the drive, it is quite possibly a matter of a proprietary protection scheme by the laptop manufacturer. Genericize the problem as much as possible by using an enclosure or adapter to put it into a non-branded desktop. See if you can access the disc on that machine. It is possible that the laptop manufacturer's all have controllers supporting a non-standard protection scheme that they will all pick up on when a disk using it has been installed.

    The only ways I can think of that they would be protecting the disk:
    - BIOS based protection
    - Boot block based protection
    - HDD controller based protection

    If the first two aren't true, the third must be. A hard drive itself cannot install a custom controller BIOS or anything--if there is a fancy protection scheme in place that doesn't fall into the first two categories, the HDD controller must support the scheme. This would be easy to sidestep as far as at least being able to access the drive. Getting the contents back might be less easy since this custom arrangement might encrypt the data contents itself.

    However, as long as you have been completely unable to even access the disk there is still hope. Once you see the disk or partition information but not data, then you're set to lose hope.

    Also, have you considered brute forcing or dictionary attacking the password? If this is a child, they have very likely used a weak password.
    Sometimes I feel like I'm becoming a dinosaur.

  9. #24
    Joined
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    67

    Re: Hard drive locked

    from what i see it seems that they locked the HDD through the BIOS. there was a password on the BIOS but i removed it by taking off the CMOS bat, and clearing the password once i was in the BIOS i found the HDD locked by a password.

    ive already tried removing the drive (which is on a laptop gateway) and placing it in another non-branded machine and again immediatly once the drive was being accessed to begin a boot i was prompted for the password.

    By the way i hate Gateway..

  10. #25
    Joined
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
    Age
    70
    Posts
    585

    Re: Hard drive locked

    The idea of running a different operating system, which in this case I suggested Linux but it can be a Solaris or a BSD system, is not to have to rely on the hard disk to boot. The original boot loader in the hard disk is not used and bypassed.

    By removing the disk and booting it with another PC all it shows is the boot sector still password protected and the problem is not with a password-protected controller or Bios.

    You could also try to boot the OS of the another PC and use it to read the distressed hard disk either internally or externally via a USB connection. According to your previous post that the XP installer could not recognise the partition that method should fail too, but at least in disk management you can see the partition layout of the distressed disk with another computer.

    Think we are narrowing down the possibilities.

  11. #26
    Joined
    Jan 2003
    Location
    New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    2,533

    Re: Hard drive locked

    Quote Originally Posted by jubei636 View Post
    from what i see it seems that they locked the HDD through the BIOS. there was a password on the BIOS but i removed it by taking off the CMOS bat, and clearing the password once i was in the BIOS i found the HDD locked by a password.

    ive already tried removing the drive (which is on a laptop gateway) and placing it in another non-branded machine and again immediatly once the drive was being accessed to begin a boot i was prompted for the password.

    By the way i hate Gateway..
    DO NOT try to boot to the drive, you need to install it as a secondary drive in a system that is booting to another drive. You wouldn't be able to boot to it in a different laptop anyhow. The suggestion of using an external enclosure is a good one, because it allows you to hot-plug after booting up.

  12. #27
    Joined
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    67

    Re: Hard drive locked

    plug it in as a secondary drive, would this allow me to view the drive despite it being locked by a password? im just gonna throw this out there. i contacted a good friend of mine who is an IT consultant, i told him about my problem and explained it to him thouroghly. will the end result is that he suggested i take out the drive and configure the jump drives on the HDD so that it resets it. i wonder if this is even possible..

  13. #28
    Joined
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
    Age
    70
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    585

    Re: Hard drive locked

    jubei636,

    Have you tried it as a secondary drive?

    It will work because you would have no need to boot it and so the locking program has no way of being executed from the MBR of the secondary disk.

    Don't you get it? The suggestion is not to boot the hard disk by

    (1) Use another operating system on the same PC.

    or

    (2) Use it as the 2nd disk by booting another hard disk first either in the same PC or in another PC. The 2nd disk will work as an internal or external unit. I take it by connecting the locked up disk externally as a USB drive is what your IT consultant suggesting.

    The trick is not to use the MBR of the locked disk.

  14. #29
    Joined
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    67

    Re: Hard drive locked

    Quote Originally Posted by saikee View Post
    jubei636,

    Have you tried it as a secondary drive?

    It will work because you would have no need to boot it and so the locking program has no way of being executed from the MBR of the secondary disk.

    Don't you get it? The suggestion is not to boot the hard disk by

    (1) Use another operating system on the same PC.

    or

    (2) Use it as the 2nd disk by booting another hard disk first either in the same PC or in another PC. The 2nd disk will work as an internal or external unit. I take it by connecting the locked up disk externally as a USB drive is what your IT consultant suggesting.

    The trick is not to use the MBR of the locked disk.
    right ill give this method a try, ill probably try it by slaving the drive as a secondary. since the password lock is on the MBR atleast thats what im hoping.

  15. #30
    Joined
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Anywhere but here.
    Posts
    4,513

    Re: Hard drive locked

    If what I believe is happening, and sangram appears to be on the same track, you have two options. The first is FORCE the sister to remove the passwrod. If it takes legal means to do so she needs to pursue that course of action. What she did is a criminal act and is punishable by law. The second option if your girlfriend is the original registered owner of the laptop is to contact the manufacturer for information about gaining access to that drive. Without knowing the specific laptop to know for sure, but many laptops have a security feature built in that will lock down the hard drive preventing unauthorized access to it. You can't just clear the bios, do a fix/mbr, or anything else to get around it. Booting from a Linux CD isn't going to help nor is placing the drive in a different computer. You either need the password or have the MANUFACTURER reset the hard drive, and they will require proof of ownership. If by chance it was done via third party software then the manufacturer of that software would have to do it, but you would need to know what software they used to do this.

    I know that a lot of people are trying to help, but most are leading you on a wild goose chase. Provide us with info on the laptop and I might be able to point you in the right direction.

    Don
    R.I.P Brad (BWM). You will be missed.

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