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I want to use the hard drive Password feature in the BIOS on my Asus 1015-pe netbook but the manual mentions nothing about that feature or anything within the BIOS.

BIOS Options:

Hard Disk Security

Primary Master hard drive User Password
Primary Master hard drive Master Password

I started by setting up a password in "Primary Master hard drive Master Password" but then every hard drive password field became grey and I can no longer change anything and nowhere it asks me for a password now despite reboots.

How is this feature suppose to be used?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jan 19 '12 at 17:15

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2 Answers

That option tells the bios to modify and work with the windows bootloader to ask you a password before continuing to load the os any further.

It doesn't do a thing to secure your hard drive.
Just the loading process of the windows os.

If you use linux like I do, it's useless

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Don't use it. It doesn't provide any form of security. Some BIOS have a feature that requires someone to enter a password before the system will boot up, which may be the case with your system, however no BIOS provides data encryption, thus to retrieve all of the data on your computer, it's as simple as popping your drive out and reading it in an external device, or booting from a liveCD or bootable USB disk. You need a disk encryption product, such as Truecrypt or Bitlocker if you want to keep your data secure.

BIOS passwords only prevent people from being able to access the BIOS and change settings. Such a feature is only really used in enterprise environments, mostly to keep "users" from accessing settings that they have no idea what they are doing with and changing things, such as boot devices or boot order, and then creating a service call.

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Actually Hard drive passwords are affective, it is part of the ATA spec. The controller board will not allow access to the hard drive until the password has been passed. This is how the original XBox protected it's hard drive. If you wanted to mod it what you had to do was power it, boot the xbox, move the disk to the computer without loosing power, then use the computer on it. This wont stop everything, but it will stop 90% of the threat cases. Also some modern drives come with hardware encryption that uses the ATA password to unlock. –  Scott Chamberlain Jan 23 '12 at 18:08
    
The ATA based hard drive password doesn't encrypt the data on the drive in any way, and is trivial to defeat. What's the point of changing a setting that will then require time and effort to enter a password on every boot if there is only a very minimal and trivial amount of protection added? It's an inconvenience for almost no benefit. See notable sources such as: schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/05/man_sues_compaq.html –  Daniel Winks Jan 30 '12 at 17:43
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