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DrKlahn
DrKlahn, Hardware Engineer
Category: Computer
Satisfied Customers: 1964
Experience:  BSci: Electrical Engr., Industrial Engr, and Computer Sci.
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Unlock/clear/reset/remove ASUS ux31a Zenbook BIOS password

Resolved Question:

Unlock/clear/reset/remove ASUS ux31a Zenbook BIOS password XXXXX removing or opening the outside shell cover
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Computer
Expert:  DrKlahn replied 1 year ago.

DrKlahn :

Thanks for using JustAnswer, the internet's independent site for Q&A consulting. I'm "DrKlahn," and I'd like to help you with this question.

Notice / disclosure: JustAnswer is a commercial Q&A site not associated with Asus, or with any computer hardware or software manufacturer. The "9 second" banner ad does not mean questions are answered in 9 seconds - it means that site-wide, we answer 400 questions an hour.

Please send me a short message when you're online and ready to begin.

DrKlahn :

Thank you for using JustAnswer.

The system indicates that you're a new user on the site, so at any time, do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have about how things work.

Is there anything you would like to ask before we proceed with your question?

Customer: Hi, no, but thanks for asking
DrKlahn :

OK. Have you contacted Asus support yet? I don't want to bore you with what you might have aleady heard from them.

Customer: Just need to get bios password XXXXX at reboot. I have not, I abhor the way they have a script of items to troubleshoot...like "did you turn it on" ....just the short and sweet answer is all I need
DrKlahn :

OK. The answer is short, but it is not sweet. There is no way to clear a BIOS password XXXXX the UX31A other than sending it back to Asus for service.

DrKlahn :

Would you like the explanation of why this is the case?

Customer: Yes, please, and what if I were to take off the back.?
DrKlahn :

Removing the back would void the warranty and would get you no further toward a solution. Please bear with me one moment while I bring in some reference material ...

Customer: Ok
Customer: If I need nothing on the computer, can I do anything to fully reset it some way.?
DrKlahn :

If the laptop was built in the last 10 years, it is not possible to clear the password by pulling batteries or using an override password. Let me give you the background on why this is now the case.

Historically:

Early laptop passwords could be cleared simply by changing a jumper or removing the backup battery. This was clearly no deterrent to theft. The US government, other governments and companies that issued laptops to their employees demanded security that could not be defeated.

Better security, stage 1

Manufacturers abandoned keeping BIOS passwords in BIOS RAM in the early 2000s. It had become clear by that time that laptop theft was actually encouraged by setting "security" passwords that could be cleared simply in a few minutes. The same problem was true of override passwords, which became instantly known among laptop thieves.

BIOS passwords are now kept in separate, encrypted, secure non-volatile flash EPROM and no amount of fiddling with the hardware will recover or un-set them.

I've written a short treatment on the topic which can be found at the link below, and I encourage you to read it.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Laptops_Notebooks/PC_Laptops/A_5193-Dealing-With-Laptop-BIOS-Passwords.html

Early laptops and 'challenge hashes':

Some older laptops shows a "challenge hash" of numbers and/or letters, usually after entering a wrong password XXXXX times. For these systems the manufacturer can (and some businesses on the internet claim to be able to) compute an override password. The cost varies, depending on whether the manufacturer considers this a service to a distressed customer or an opportunity to capitalize on an emergency situation. The cost is usually $US 100 or more.

New systems:

If the system doesn't show a challenge hash, the only solution is in hardware. Here the road forks. Older systems do not have TPM (the Trusted Platform Module); newer ones do.

For a system without TPM there are two options. One is to ship it back to the manufacturer. Proof of ownership is required, and may be hard to obtain for an older system. Again, the cost depends on whether the manufacturer regards XXXXX XXXXX a service or a profit-making opportunity. Figure at least $US 150 plus shipping charges both ways.

The other option is to ship it to a service company that will disassemble the system, physically remove the password XXXXX replace it with one that has no password, and reassemble the system. Figure at least $100 plus shipping charges both ways.

In either case, it is frequently cheaper to simply purchase a replacement notebook on ebay, swap the drive from the old system into the new one, and sell the old one as as "working but locked" for parts on ebay.

Better security, stage 2:

For general information on TPM, see the Wikipedia article below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trusted_Platform_Module

Systems that incorporate the Trusted Platform Module must be returned to the manufacturer for rebuilding. The TPM is so tightly intertwined with the system's hardware that attempting to defeat it will render the laptop unusable.

We have now arrived at a state where a properly configured laptop with TPM is completely useless to the thief. Nevertheless, since laptop batteries and other parts such as screens and disk drives have a significant resale value, the problem is going to persist into the foreseeable future.


DrKlahn :

Your UX31A incorporates hardware called the Trusted Platform Module (see the commentary above). Any unauthorized attempt to change anything in the saved BIOS setup of the system, or the system's BIOS password, will cause the TPM to lock the system permanently.

DrKlahn :

The only way to reset a system with the TPM active (and here I am assuming that the TPM is active on your system) is to ship it back to the manufacturer.

DrKlahn :

If the TPM is not active, it still has to go back to the manufacturer because the only way to clear the password XXXXX XXXXX replacing the BIOS password XXXXX

DrKlahn :

I am sorry to report this. Manufacturers became very serious about laptop security after the US Government said "If the password XXXXX be cleared by anyone other than the manufacturer, we will not buy it."

Customer: I am not sure if it is active. Oh damn it. I thank u for your time. And you are absolutely certain there is not a backdoor password XXXXX bios manufact. Has? I just feel like ANYTHING truly can be hacked, regardless of tpm or not...just need to ask..
DrKlahn :

No, there is no backdoor password. If there were, and it developed that the government learned of it, that manufacturer would see an end to their governmental sales. There were once backdoor passwords, but that ended about 2003 as every backdoor password XXXXX ended up on the internet, much to the delight of laptop thieves.

DrKlahn :

A system with TPM is as close to uncrackable as possible. Trying to defeat any aspect of the TPM causes the TPM to lock everything permanently.

DrKlahn :

If the system is still under Asus warranty, they may do the reset for you as a courtesy. However, while I was doing the research for the article cited above, it developed that most manufacturers regard this as a non-warranty issue and charge for it. The charge is a bit stiff at around $100 to $150, but given that the UX31 sells for around $1000 it is not unreasonable.

DrKlahn :

I've been checking Asus for their service contact information and I have it in another window. One moment while I bring that in --

DrKlahn :

According to http://www.service.asus.com/#!Service%20Centers/c1tqs Asus has regional service centers in California, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Utah, but their headquarters must be contacted first to establish warranty status and obtain an RMA.

Customer: Ok, well thank you again. Forgive me for giving you Good, not Excellent service...It isn't totally your fault. But you deserve credit for the answers...but I am not completely convinced especially given the fact there are Win 7 password XXXXX programs and furthermore I have, no lie, been in the IT department for the GSA...and don't remember that. If it is because of your concern that the laptop is stolen, I would rather you tell me flat out and I will still rate you to get credit. It isn't stolen, however, and I can provide proof to ASUS. I just hate the hassle of sending it, ect. Despite I do know I caused the hassle
DrKlahn :

I am very sorry to tell you this. On the whole the unhackable passwords and the TPM are a benefit. In individual cases they are a nightmare. I am not sure that the benefits outweight the disadvantages over the entire situation, since very few users actually use BIOS passwords.

Customer: I regret the fact I took cold medicine at bedtime and set it up and can't remember what I used! Oy
Customer: But thanks again...have a good weekend!
DrKlahn :

There are indeed password XXXXX programs for all versions of Windows. As long as the system can be booted to a CD, any Windows user's password XXXXX be cleared. However, so far as I know, the FBI, CIA, NASA and the various black projects will no longer buy a laptop on which the security can be bypassed. You will remember the situation several years back in which a NASA laptop was lost with several thousand SSNs on it ... that put significant pressure on the situation.

Customer: Ah yes, compliance issues.
DrKlahn :

I can understand if you are not happy with this answer. In that case I would ask that you let me send your question for a refund, rather than giving me a poor rating. I have no objection to letting you have this information without charge, but a negative rating is a serious problem for me.

DrKlahn :

Now ... is there any aspect of this answer that is unclear, or anything that you would like explained in more detail, or possibly some other computer-related problem I might be able to help you with? Do not hesitate to ask; while we are online my time belongs to you.

Customer: And I was one of those on a lost laptop and given a credit monitoring service. No, no I am actually a fair honest person. You deserve credit and not be screwed because I don't like what you are factually telling me is the case.
DrKlahn :

Thank you. I see that you have posted a fairly high price for this answer. If you wish, this can be renegotiated with Billing. Would you like to do that?

Customer: No, it's ok, if you're able to without hesitation tell me this is not because you are concerned and don't want to help a possible stolen laptop be unlocked, then I will pay what was asked
DrKlahn :

Thank you. In fact after dealing with quite a few of these problems, we get to fairly well know which ones are the thieves asking how to unlock their prize, and which ones are the consumers. I have no doubt that you are the owner of the system in this case.

DrKlahn :

I do have instructions for how to save the text of this session to a file for later reference. Would that be useful?

Customer: Ok, thanks, XXXXX XXXXX good one
Customer: Please
DrKlahn :

Surely. Please bear with me a moment while I paste that in ...

Customer: And have a good night!
DrKlahn :

Saving Text from a JustAnswer Session

The quickest way to "copy" this session is to Bookmark (Firefox) or Favorite (Internet Explorer) this web page in your browser. You can then return to this page later at your convenience. While this is not a permanent copy, it is quick and easy.

If you would like a permanent copy on your own system, continue with the instructions below.

These instructions apply to any Windows PC and to most Mac systems. Leave this session open in the browser. On a PC, start Microsoft Word - or if you don't have Word, go to the Accessories menu and start Notepad or Wordpad. This will be your text editor. Then return to this browser session.

Click on the scroll bar at the right of the session window, hold the left mouse button down, and pull the slider all the way up to the top. Release the mouse button.

Move the mouse pointer to the beginning of the text. Press and hold the left mouse button, then scroll all the way down to the bottom of the window. The scroll bar drags itself down automatically when the mouse touches the bottom of the window. As text is selected for copying, it changes color.

When the scroll bar reaches bottom, release the left mouse button. Then press (Windows: CTRL and C / Mac: Apple-key and C) simultaneously. There will be no obvious effect.

Now go to the text editor main window, click anywhere within it, and then press (Windows: CTRL and V / Mac: Apple-key and V) simultaneously. The text will paste into the text editor window.

I'll be glad to hold while you do this and confirm that you have a good copy. Please let me know when that is complete.

DrKlahn :

Let me know after you have made a safe copy. I will then bring in some information that may help you close this question, and I won't delay you further today.

Customer: Oops. I'm on a stupid iPad and cannot figure the stupid thing out
DrKlahn :

In that case you can Bookmark this session in your browser, and that will give you a copy of the URL which you can write down for later use on a PC or Mac. Or you can simply log on to JustAnswer later from another computer, and your question will be shown on your questions list. You can then reopen it and copy out the text. It will remain live for at least a week, after which it will be archived.

DrKlahn :

Will that work for you?

Customer: i
DrKlahn :

I see that you're trying to close this question, so let me bring in the closing info for you.

DrKlahn :

Though this may not be an immediate solution, JustAnswer rules compel me to consider this commentary an answer. If anything in this answer is unclear, or you'd like something explained in more detail, don't hesitate to ask.

If this answer is unsatisfactory for any reason, do not rate or accept it. A bad rating does not refund your deposit. If you want a refund, ask me and I'll help you get one immediately.

Closing a question does not mean support has ended. You can return to this session later and post comments or ask related questions, until the session eventually expires and is archived.

You can now close this question using the Rating panel / Accept button. That gives me credit for an answer. Thank you for using JustAnswer; it's been my pleasure to serve you today. We'll hope to see you again in the future; between now and then, I wish you a pleasant day and a quick solution to this problem.

I'll hold online in case there are any last-minute questions or a problem closing the question.

DrKlahn, Hardware Engineer
Category: Computer
Satisfied Customers: 1964
Experience: BSci: Electrical Engr., Industrial Engr, and Computer Sci.
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DrKlahn
DrKlahn
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BSci: Electrical Engr., Industrial Engr, and Computer Sci.