DIY: How to reset a BIOS password

Jack Wallen offers a TechRepublic member advice about a tricky problem: resetting a BIOS password on a machine.

Read my answer to TechRepublic member Jim McGrath's question, and then please post any additional tips you have for the member in the discussion.

Q: How do you reset a BIOS password on a machine? A: This one is tricky. If the password was set by the manufacturer, I recommend looking up the BIOS manufacturer to see if they use a standard password. For example, the Award BIOS can sometimes use such default passwords as:

AWARD SW, AWARD_SW, Award SW, AWARD PW, _award, awkward, J64, j256, j262, j332, j322, 01322222, 589589, 589721, 595595, 598598, HLT, SER, SKY_FOX, aLLy, aLLY, Condo, CONCAT, TTPTHA, aPAf, HLT, KDD, ZBAAACA, ZAAADA, ZJAAADC

In this case, the best thing to do is to Google your BIOS and see if there are default passwords set.

If, however, someone set the password and forgot the said password, the task is a bit more challenging. To get around this, the BIOS must be reflashed. There are two ways to do this: via software or via hardware. The software reflash can only be done if you have access to the running computer (as in, you are logged into the machine). If you do not have access, then the hardware method must be used.

To flash a BIOS with software, I highly recommend you go to the BIOS manufacturer website, download its flashing tool, and use that tool. The MS DEBUG command can be used, but it's tricky and, should you fubar the BIOS, the machine could be bricked.

To use the hardware method of flashing a BIOS, a jumper on the motherboard must be changed. Here's the process:

  1. According to the schematics of your motherboard, locate the BIOS jumper. This will be a jumper with three pins and a jumper joining two of the three pins.
  2. With the computer turned Off, unplug the jumper.
  3. Plug the jumper into the central pin and the outside pin opposite of the pin it was originally plugged into (e.g., if the jumper was in position 1-2, put it in 2-3).
  4. Wait a couple of seconds.
  5. Return the jumper to its original position.
  6. Start the computer.
This should reset the BIOS to its original state, which hopefully means no password. Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)