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My friend left his job a year ago and did not hand in his corporate laptop. He recently contacted his old employer and they told him not to bother returning it.

However the laptop is now completely unusable as there were several layers of encryption and he is completely locked out.

I was told that the only way to make it usable again would be to completely change the motherboard.

I found the motherboard going for £160 online and the laptop is worth over £600, so it would make financial sense to do this?!

But will reinstalling the motherboard really solve the problems of being locked out? Can I reuse the old cpu/ram/hardrive etc?

How hard a job will this be?


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This depends on what type of encryption you're talking about. Are you referring to software encryption (BitLocker, TrueCrypt, etc.) of the OS and drive? Or are you talking about hardware encryption on the drive or BIOS encryption? – Phoenix Logan Mar 22 '14 at 17:10
Going by assumption on how these companies work, you might also need to change the drive. The CPU and RAM will be reusable. All the data, though, the OS and the BIOS will have to go. Still, answer Logan's question if you know the answer. It will help give a more accurate answer. – Kard Nails Mar 22 '14 at 17:17
Hi - I think it is encryption on this BIOS. The software being used is called sophos safeguard – luke punnett Mar 22 '14 at 17:18
Can you access the bios on boot? – John Yost Mar 22 '14 at 18:07
Just plug in a new disk and reinstall OS. No software can "lock" the motherboard, and no one bothers to lock up the BIOS, also, you can do a BIOS reset (unplug the little battery) – Filipe YaBa Polido Mar 22 '14 at 19:04

The motherboard is not the issue when system access is restricted. It will most likely be caused by the encryption of the SSD/HDD. Replacing the mass storage devices on the machine and re-installing the OS will allow full access to the machine.

A good SSD for windows should be <1$ per Gb (NewEgg SSD) while a good HDD will be <0.10$ per Gb (NewEgg HDD). Depending on your performance necessitates, choose either the SSD or HDD. Keep in mind that Macbook Pro laptops use a PCIe based SSDs.

After installing the new storage device, access the BIOS and boot from the USB or disk that the new OS is on.

The CPU will be usable as it does not store any data. The RAM is also okay as it is wiped when the system shuts down.

The difficulty of this job will depend on the layout of the laptop. But in most cases, it involves disconnecting a single SATA cable and placing in a new drive.


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