Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Grayed out hard disk password on a Thinkpad

Every 3 months or so I have what I call password day. This is when all my corporate passwords expire and I need to change them. Despite most of IBM's internal services being authenticated against our intranet ID and password, I still need to manually change things like OS Passwords (two Windows and one Ubuntu clients), VPN, Boot up and hard disk passwords, Blackberry, Sametime, Activities, FTP and a few others relating to non standard sites and services.

Whilst this is quite irritating to have to do, it is a necessary evil and normally quite straight forward. But today I hit a snag I haven't come across before. When I went to change my hard disk password in the BIOS it was grayed out. This was especially annoying because I had changed my power on password successfully. The last thing you want is to have two different passwords on boot up.

My initial thought was that it must be something to do with the supervisor password - but it wasn't enabled. Turns out that the problem was that the hard disk password was set on a different machine, a Thinkpad T60p but I had upgraded to a T61p. As luck would have it, I hadn't got round to returning the old T60p so I could swap the drive back - remove the password and then put it back in my new machine and pop the new password on. I don't know what I could have done if I had returned the old machine. So a warning to Thinkpad users - it is incredibly handy being able to use the same drives across different models - but if you are transferring a drive then remove the password first - otherwise you might find that you are stuck with it!


David Schaffer said...

I've been supporting ThinkPads since the very early models and I love them, but the "extra" security features are enough to drive you crazy. Glad to know about that gotcha on the hard disk password.

Ian Atkin said...

Thanks man! You probably saved me a bunch of hassle down the road when I upgrade my TP.

Geoff said...

This problem is caused by the format in which the password was originally saved in the drive. You can resolve this on at least some Lenovo laptops if the bios has a "use passphrase" setting. When "User" or "User+Master" appears for HD password greyed out, the "use passphrase" setting will also be greyed out, and whatever it is set to must be toggled. To toggle it, remove the drive from the laptop, and then go into the bios settings. Remove other bios related passwords if they are set. Now, you will be able to toggle the "user passphrase" setting, so do so. Power down, re-insert the drive, go back into the bios, and you will now be able to set or remove the hard-drive password.

Mike said...

Thanks so much. I solved it by disabling use passphrase with no drives in the system and then re-inserting the drives and removing the password.

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Morten said...

Thanks a lot.

It solved my problem too on a T61 with an extra password-protected disk in the ultrabay and a greyed out "user" password in BIOS.

I took out the extra disk, disabled "use passphrase", rebooted, and I was able to change/disable the password on the extra disk..

This was not an easy one... Took me through a couple of bios updates and recovery isos from IBM before I found this post :-)