Missing Dell BIOS (boot) password

By AlbertLionheart
Feb 26, 2009
  1. I have a client's machine on which one of his darling little brats has created or reset the BIOS password and now denies all knowledge of the thing. I seem to recall there is either a means of generating the default password from the Service Tag or, failing that, shorting out one of the motherboard chips. That I have done before but would prefer to know which chip it is.
    The system is a Dell Dimension 3100.
    Anyone able to help before I condemn the thing to perdition and a drop kick into the neighbours wheelie bin?
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    Difficult task.
    What you describe will not happen. But you can check with Dell support to see if the computer is registered to that owner. Then Dell will send someone out as an authorized service rep with a little disk that runs the fix... and has a cost.
    I would first see if the hard drive can be accessed while installed in an external USB enclosure.
    If it can, then even if passworded, you can put in a replacement drive. And Dell XP install disk will work.
    Then you can buy a Dell motherboard on eBay. Many Optiplex boards are cheaper, and work better than the Dimension boards... for a cheaper price... around $70 to $85.... or refurbished Dell government computers are for sale at PCSurplusonline for $120 to $180 with shipping... just move the board into the 3100. And the dell OS will work.
  3. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,022   +612

  4. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

  5. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,026

    I have already tried the battery out bit as well as the shorting of the CMOS battery jumpers - NBG (no b looody good) so will heave out the motherboard and short out the chips to see.
    By the way, it is a desktop so not quite such hard and fiddly work as a laptop!
  6. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    We don't find much difference between the Dell laptops and Dell desktop where password problems are concerned.

    We have had excellent luck replacing the motherboards on the desktops... and many of the Optiplex boards are half the price of the Dimensions, and twice as good... though sometimes they don't fit the output locations if the cover plate is not included.
    Be sure it is an official Dell board... most are still sealed in plastic... and it will run all the Dells OS install disks without a hitch.
  7. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,026

    It is not my intention to go chasing round looking for second hand motherboards to fit this heap. I hate Dell machines with a passion and it would give me enormous pleasure to recycle it - in other words jump up and down on it in my great big hobnail boots until it is dead.
    As I think I said above, I have reset boards by shorting out chips before so I will try that - if it fails that is the end of it.
  8. xedlgxe

    xedlgxe TS Rookie

    Hello all. Hopefully, my first post will be of hope. If you open the box up, you'll find a (usually green) jumper close to the power plug on the mobo. Remove the jumper, turn the computer on, watch monitor until it says something like, "password disabled," turn computer off, and replace the jumper. This has worked for me, literally, hundreds of times. Hope it helps you.

    Take care,

    "Newcomer, in training?" As a seasoned IT at a major university, I've learn that IT means "in training!"

  9. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,026

    Well done xedlgxe - that worked! Very many thanks for your input!
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