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My laptop hard-disk is locked and is now asking for a password during the boot. Is there anyway I can just recover data from it. Its a Samsung hm160 running on a dell 1525. I have heard it can be done by disconnecting the jumper, but not sure how to do this on a laptop hard-disk.

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Is it the hard-drive itself that is locked or the BIOS? You can confirm that it is not the BIOS by seeing if you can get into the BIOS configuration screen. – David Spillett Nov 9 '11 at 12:11
yes I can get into the bios configuration screen, its the hdd not the bios. – karthik Nov 9 '11 at 12:17
Is the drive encrypted? Is there any reason you can't contact Dell for instruction/assistance? There's a good chance they'll need to involved. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 9 '11 at 12:42
its not encrypted. The warranty expired quite a long time back. It has a ext4 and ntfs partition. Was running ubuntu 10.04. Ubuntu did not screw it up, it was human error. – karthik Nov 9 '11 at 14:29
You mean you added the lock yourself? How? – Paul Nov 16 '11 at 1:54

It would be nice to a screenshot of the password dialog even if you need to take it with a camera, so we can see what kind of a lock it is. It would also be useful to know the exact model of your computer, and that of the hard disk if you can find it. And also if the drive in question is the system drive or not.

This is important, because if it is really the hard disk that is locked, then there is no simple way of unlocking it. Normally, its firmware will even refuse to reformat the disk without the password. This can happen because someone locked the drive in the BIOS, or because of a hardware glitch.

The best option for you in this case is to get in touch, first with with the Support for your computer manufacturer, then (if that doesn't help) with that of your hard disk. You will need a proof-of-ownership of your computer to have a hope of getting an answer.

As far as software is concerned, the article Unlocking a password protected harddisk claims that the atapwd program can do the job. The links no longer work, so this and other such tools may be found on this Hard Drive Tools page. However, be warned that using these tools is quite risky to your hard-disk and computer and that I do not have any experience with any of them.

A commercial service may be found at Repair Station, and again I have no experience with them.

There is a person that claims unlocking his drive using two hard disks. What he did was set a password in the BIOS on his unlocked disk (meaning lock it), reboot and go into the BIOS to clear the password. The BIOS will ask for the password to be typed in, so enter the password from above, and when it then asks for a new password replace physically the original hard disk with the locked one while the computer is still turned on and then enter an empty password, followed by as many OKs as necessary.

I have no idea what will be the result of the above procedure and take no responsibility.

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+1 for throwing some light and guiding me on the right path :) – karthik Nov 26 '11 at 5:47
harrymc is right. It is not possible to unlock it. I guess what you see is a black screen with a padlock asking for a password (At least on my Lenovo it looks this way). The password is part of the ATA specification. You could take a look at: There are corporations claiming to remove the password but they charge about 100$/drive. I'd suggest getting another drive. In a german pc magazine they warned that malware might be able to set the password to destroy harddrives (or charge the user for unlocking). Sorry for the bad news – Darokthar Nov 27 '11 at 19:42

If all you want to do is recover the data, then pop the drive into another machine and pull off the data. If the data is not encrypted, then you should be able to pull it off just fine.

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actually it doesn't work that way .. the hdd is locked with a password .. so even if the hard disk is placed in another computer it would ask for the password. the pass is stored in the hdd not the motherboard cmos. :) but if you think it would actually work ill give it another try! – karthik Nov 29 '11 at 7:48
No, I mean boot into something else, and then just use the parent OS to read the drive. – soandos Nov 29 '11 at 7:53
the hard disk while boot asks for the password, so it is not mounted(i'm not sure of the exact terminology in this case) until the password is entered. therefore, no password = no mounting – karthik Nov 29 '11 at 7:56
Even in the parent OS? – soandos Nov 29 '11 at 7:57
no, like a SATA to USB converter or something similar. – soandos Nov 29 '11 at 8:37

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