Computer Help forum


Asks for password when there is none

by rje49 / April 11, 2017 3:05 PM PDT

I'm working with my neighbor's 10-year old Dell Optiplex desktop. Just 2 weeks ago I formatted & re-installed XP-Pro & everything was fine. Yesterday, he tells me he's infected with ransomware, but seeing as he doesn't have a thing on the computer (and no money), refused to pay anything. I take it, start it up and it wants a the "Windows XP Start Up Password". After 2 tries I get an error message referring to trying to change my password. He says he never put in a password. I've used Hirem's Boot Disk and Ophcrack, and neither one found any passwords. All clear in BIOS, too. Same thing in safe mode. I have removed the HD and scanned it from another computer with 3 different anti-virus programs via a USB adapter. One found a "severe" problem and removed it (so it said). Could this password thing be related to the ransomware? If I can't get by this password puzzle, I'll have to format it again and reinstall, again. Any ideas?

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All Answers

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Malware be like that.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 11, 2017 3:46 PM PDT

To reset the Windows password is a five (5) minute job with my NTPASSWD CD. It's free and too many tutorials on the web.

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by rje49 / April 11, 2017 3:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Malware be like that.

After realizing that just one single incorrect password try is all you get, I went back into BIOS and see that Drive 0 is "in a frozen state". No other passwords are set, but Drive 0 has one that is set. I guess it's possible that the previous user, the State Dept. of Education, set this password and forgot about it when they got rid of the machine. So despite asking for "Windows XP Startup" password, this may be a BIOS Drive 0 password work around?

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Not a Windows password.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 11, 2017 4:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Actually,

Then I have to check for the machine's make and model. My old Dell's had a jumper called Password Reset.

Look for that.

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Dell Optiplex GX620
by rje49 / April 11, 2017 4:06 PM PDT

Dell service tag # BNH46C1
I'm vaguely familiar with the jumper. I see what looks like a jumper, but no their connectors nearby. Maybe simply turn it 180?

Post was last edited on April 11, 2017 4:12 PM PDT

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No, that's not it
by rje49 / April 11, 2017 4:36 PM PDT
In reply to: Dell Optiplex GX620

I removed the jumper. There are no passwords required now - except for Drive 0.
Haven't found info that works to remove the HD password - when you don't know what the set PW is.

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I'd use Dell Docs on this one.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 11, 2017 4:37 PM PDT
In reply to: Dell Optiplex GX620
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(NT) Been there too
by rje49 / April 11, 2017 4:53 PM PDT
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by rje49 / April 11, 2017 4:56 PM PDT

I hit enter by mistake. Yeah, I read that same page. Nothing there worked. I'm not feeling very confident about this now. The guy told me he could take the computer back and maybe get another one instead. I don't give up easily though...

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Did you try a new HDD?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 11, 2017 5:06 PM PDT
In reply to: Continued...
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That crossed my mind
by rje49 / April 11, 2017 5:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Did you try a new HDD?

I do have a few extra HDs, but was thinking the password was an onboard thing which would block access to any HD plugged into it.
I'll keep that in mind.

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by Bob__B / April 11, 2017 7:45 PM PDT
In reply to: That crossed my mind

Grab a copy of dban and wipe the hdd.

Reload xp and test.

That should tell you if the password was on the hdd or it's some other place.

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Got it.
by rje49 / April 12, 2017 5:54 PM PDT
In reply to: That crossed my mind

I did try a different HD, and installed XP on it. That went fine, but even with the PSWD jumper removed, Drive 0 still showed an unknown password set and the drive "frozen". I went back inside and put the jumper on RTCRST (for a minute), and that removed the Drive Password. Just to check it, I put the original drive back in, but it wouldn't do anything without a password- black message screen instead of a small window on start-up. So it seems the blocking password was both onboard and on the HD!
Before giving the computer back, with the jumper back on PSWD, I set an Administrator Password, which prevents BIOS changes. I wonder if it would prevent ransomware from putting a password on the Drive? Could it be that simple? I doubt it, or I would have heard about it before.

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PS. In the future.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 11, 2017 3:47 PM PDT

Make a backup spare Admin account. On newer Windows make 2 Admin accounts that are local logins.

These spare accounts make the issue you are asking about a trivial problem to solve.

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