Clearing The BIOS Passwords On My Acer Laptop


Recently, I bought an older Acer Travelmate 8473T laptop on Ebay. Why not, it was only about $100. But it turned out to be not such a good deal.

One thing that really bothered me was that I could not access the BIOS.

DSC_2384_2

Acer BIOS Password Request

Usually, I’ll upgrade and reconfigure my machines. So, accessing the BIOS is really important.

This began another long project. Over a few weeks, I’ve spend probably 20 hours or more. Don’t you just love it when bad people and/or technology problems become the black hole of your time?

Quick Solution:

For those of you who just want the solution that worked for me, 

use CLNPWD.EXE.

Here’s a Youtube video on CLNPWD.EXE.
How to Clear/Remove Acer Bios Password
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scpy4jH6HY4

——-

Here’s the longer story, listing some of the aggravation.

Unethical Ebay Seller:

I emailed the guy who sold me the laptop. He says that he bought the laptop at auction, so he didn’t have the BIOS password. Ok, so now what?

——-

Sleuthing:

Eventually I used Recuva to recover files on the laptop. By looking at the files, I figured out that the laptop used to belong to an elementary school teacher. It was the official school issue laptop. You could tell by the pictures of shoes and clothes that it was a lady teacher. In a few PDF files, she was applying for jobs far away in the Los Angeles area. She had also been a vice-principal, and got a letter of recommendation from the school principal

So I was then able to track down the director of IT for that school system, and called him. We had a great chat. Turns out that the school system had actually auctioned those laptops off as e-waste. They were supposed to be scrapped. But the seller decided to make more money, and sold them as working machines. The swine!

To hide the fact that the machine was from the school system, he’d reinstalled Windows 7, overwriting everything. But it was the wrong copy of Windows. So many other things were bad. All the drivers were missing! What was really bad was that even the network drivers were missing. So, even if I wanted to do a Windows Update for the new drivers, that didn’t work!
——-

Potential Solutions That I Investigated:

Like so many other times in my life when I’ve had to deal with a tough problem, beyond my (and often most of the world’s) experience, with no clear or simple solutions, there were many potential paths that I investigated.

Contacting the Ebay seller

Contacting the previous owner, a public school system

G2201 Contacts on the motherboard

Buy BIOS Password

Local computer repair shop

Long distance computer shop

Contacting Acer

Contacting Phoenix BIOS

clnpwd.exe

Considering, all at the same time, what is the

Cheapest?
Most reliable?
Least risky?
Fastest?
Straightforward?
And, who is the most Honest?

——-

Acer Manual G2201 Solution:

DSC_2355_2

Acer G2201 Motherboard Contacts

I downloaded the laptop’s PDF user manual. It had a whole section on how to reset the BIOS passwords. You are supposed to find two little triangles on the circuit board marked G2201. Then arc two terminals on the PCB together and power the machine on. I tried this a number of times with some others to help me (teamwork). But the password requirement remained. Sigh.  I now suspect that these two orange triangles do not conduct electricity at all, but only point somewhere. As you can tell by the picture, it’s pretty confusing.

——-

Phone Calls:

So I began to call some people with more expertise than myself such as the local computer shop. Even though they are an Acer authorized repair outlet, there is nothing they could do. They had never cleared a BIOS password before.

So I contacted a great computer repair guy that I know in the Los Angeles area.   http://ndcomputers.net/
He didn’t know either.   😦

——-

Useless And Offensive Acer “Service”:

Eventually, I tried calling Acer to talk to someone. But what an offensive experience that was.

As I feared, I got Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Rather than talking to a receptionist, a computer responded. Of course my question did not fit into its pre-programmed prompts. But even though I kept asking for “agent”, the software kept asking me stupid questions.

Eventually, because I couldn’t give the computer the answers it wanted, it rudely directed me to a third party company whose business model is to charge money by the hour. It’s phone support, located in India. No thanks.

As I understand, Acer will only fix their computers if they are on warranty. Not only that, they won’t even speak to you, unless your computer is on warranty.

There were a few questions that I wanted to ask Acer. First, of the three BIOS passwords, Supervisor, HDD, and User, can the BIOS Supervisor override the HDD and User passwords? Second, clarification on how to do the G2201 process. Third, is there an official Acer install DVD?

Most importantly, if everything else I tried failed, could I send the laptop to Acer? The idea being they would reset the BIOS. And hopefully, also restore the hard drive to factory spec, with all the original software on it.

Watch makers such as Seiko, that will repair their very old watches. So, when you might need the support of the company the most, it’s there.

But not so with Acer. I’m concluding that: like so many other tech companies, Acer effectively does not service either their products or customers. 😦

Perhaps Phoenix BIOS might have been able to help me. But after my awful phone experience with Acer, I had no inclination to waste my time with Phoenix.

——-

BIOS Password Service:

Turns out that there are a few services online. You send them some money. And the hint that you see on screen. And, they send you a password.

I read a few reviews. Seems that they do get the right password. But they also charge A LA Carte. You have to buy each password separately; Supervisor, HDD, User, and Windows. No bulk rates. When I searched for the company reviews, I found some complaints.

——-

Clean Password, CLNPWD:

Eventually, I had the bright idea of searching on Youtube. And found this video:

How to Clear/Remove Acer Bios Password
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scpy4jH6HY4

I followed the video, and my experience was exactly the same as what was in the video.

Wow. That’s rare when the documentation and instructions are exactly what happens when you also use the software.  And that the software works exactly as it is supposed to!

Whoever wrote that software, Thank you!

Now, to finally install the OS and software.

——-

Useful Links:

Understanding Passwords and how Acer can help when you run into issues.
http://community.acer.com/t5/Knowledge-Base/Understanding-Passwords-and-how-Acer-can-help-when-you-run-into/ta-p/37953

—–

CLNPWD:

How to Clear/Remove Acer Bios Password
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scpy4jH6HY4

clnpwd.zip  (2.16 MB)
http://rghost.net/3359203

—–

BIOS Password Services:

http://pwd4bios.com/acer-travelmate-8473z-bios-password.html
http://www.biosremoval.com/acer-travelmate-8473-bios-password.html
http://novatecdirect.com/acer_Bios_password_removal.html
$35.00

http://servicebios.com/hp%20page.html
$55.00

 

 

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One Response to Clearing The BIOS Passwords On My Acer Laptop

  1. rodgersnotes says:

    Today, I came up with a potential online solution at:
    https://bios-pw.org/

    Enter the hint, get potential passwords. Ie.

    12345 gives:

    Generic Phoenix daxsm;

    HP/Compaq Phoenix BIOS vrwdu;

    Fujitsu-Siemens Phoenix 778782

    etc.

    But it doesn’t mention ACER.

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