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Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore fromDVD recovery medium

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by Barry Watzman, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. I'd like to have the system in front of me.

    You may have a "BIOS Password" set that makes it impossible to get into
    the "real" BIOS. [Note, a bug in some BIOS versions of some Toshiba
    laptops is that they establish passwords "all by themselves", and the
    nature of the bug is such that once this happens .... you have to return
    the laptop to Toshiba (that's the official line; unofficially, there are
    "secret" ways to clear it). You may also just have an old BIOS version.
    I'd try updating the BIOS (you probably will need a USB floppy drive
    to do that).

    Also, this model is prone to CPU overheating due to dust, hair and dirt
    clogging and completely (COMPLETELY) obstructing the CPU fan and
    heatsink (in fact, this model has TWO fans, also). Actually ALL modern
    laptops have a need for periodic cleaning, but this model is worse than
    most (although it's only "slightly" exceptional, and only by degrees).
    On this model, significant disassembly is required to resolve this, e.g.
    to really clean the inside of the unit, in particular the heat sink and
    fan (fan(S), in this case). An overheated CPU will usually lock the
    system up completely but may just make it incredibly flakey.

    So, if it were mine, the two things on my agenda (in this order) would
    be to disassemble the system to clean the cooling system, and then
    update the bios (if the system is flaky, do NOT update the bios until
    the "flakeyness" is resolved; a lockup or blue screen during a bios
    update can "brick" the unit).


    Jeff wrote:
    > I have a Toshiba A45-S120 laptop that has previously worked fine. I hadn't
    > turned it on for several weeks. When I tried last week, after the WinXP
    > splash screen came up, the progress bar completed one pass and then the
    > video froze and showed a ghosted image of the WinXP logo off to the right of
    > the real one and the two images were displayed in alternating vertical
    > stripes, almost as thought you were looking through vertical blinds. At that
    > point, there was no further boot progress.
    >
    > Pressing Esc got me into the BIOS page, so it doesn't appear that there was
    > a hardware video problem. The only options that I could change in the BIOS
    > were the time and password (which is not set). With the recovery DVD in the
    > drive, I couldn't get the system to boot to the CD/DVD drive no matter what
    > I did. I tried all the suggestions I found of F12, F2, etc., and nothing
    > highlighted any of the row of icons across the bottom of the Toshiba splash
    > screen. When I booted, unless I pressed Esc, the system recognized the
    > failed Windows boot and went into the text screen giving me all the safe
    > mode start options.
    >
    > Next, I was able to borrow an A45-S151 with the same CD-RW/DVD drive. I was
    > able to boot the S151 from a CD and also read data from the CD once it was
    > booted. While booting this unit via the F12 key, I noticed that all the
    > options were available for me to change in the BIOS setup - not just time
    > and password.
    >
    > I then tried this known good CD drive in my S120 - it wouldn't boot and the
    > system went immediately to the hard drive and tried to start in safe mode.
    > In setup, I only had access to time and password. I then tried the suspect
    > drive in the known good S151 - I was able to boot from CD, read data and, in
    > setup, I had access to all options.
    >
    > So, after ruling out a dead CD/DVD drive, I went one step further and
    > reformatted the hard drive in the S120 system to see if the inability to
    > attempt booting from it would give me an option of changing the boot order.
    > Now, the only change I get upon booting is an 'invalid system disk' error
    > message - I still can't change the boot order.
    >
    > I'm back to a non-booting S120 that won't allow me to change the boot
    > device - the only real progress I've made is that WinXP is no longer trying
    > to boot into safe mode.
    >
    > Can anyone tell if this stuff is symptomatic of a dying system or if there
    > is something I can do to resurrect it and force the DVD restore somehow?
    > Refurbishing desktops is a hobby of mine but I haven't had much experience
    > with troubleshooting and repairing laptop issues, so thanks in advance for
    > any pointers. I'm out of ideas and would greatly appreciate any tips or
    > expertise.
    >
    >
    >
     
    Barry Watzman, Sep 4, 2009
    #1
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  2. Barry Watzman

    John Doue Guest

    Jeff wrote:

    snip
    >
    > Re: the 'secret' BIOS clearing: is that something I can do with
    > instructions, or is that somethig I'll need to send the machine to someone
    > for?
    >


    snip

    Very nice way to ask!


    John Doue
     
    John Doue, Sep 4, 2009
    #2
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  3. I do not know how to clear passwords on this particular model. But a
    web search would likely turn that information up.


    Jeff wrote:

    >
    > Re: the 'secret' BIOS clearing: is that something I can do with
    > instructions, or is that somethig I'll need to send the machine to someone
    > for?
    >
    >
     
    Barry Watzman, Sep 5, 2009
    #3
  4. I'm wondering if someone flashed the wrong bios at some point. Your
    behavior is not normal for this model. Another possibility is a BIOS
    supervisor (but NOT "user") password. In fact that is what seems most
    likely.



    Jeff wrote:
    >> In that vein, I do have a Toshiba USB floppy drive that I got after

    > getting
    >> the laptop but I've not used it. Since I had no success changing the boot
    >> order or booting from CD with known good media and drive, I guess I didn't
    >> bother trying the next step of trying a boot floppy. I can give that a
    >> whirl and post back.

    >
    > Thanks for all the ideas so far. I tried booting to floppy with the same
    > result. The floppy spins and lights up but the system only tried booting
    > from the hard drive, I can't get to F12 to select an alternate boot device
    > and am still limited in BIOS to time and password changes.
    >
    >> I do not know how to clear passwords on this particular model. But a
    >> web search would likely turn that information up.

    >
    > Would anyone have any idea what to search for to let me find instructions on
    > the secret method of clearing a password on a machine that potentially set
    > one on its own??
    >
    >
     
    Barry Watzman, Sep 13, 2009
    #4
  5. I believe that you may have a supervisor password set. But I'm not sure
    how to clear it on that model. On some older Toshiba models with a
    parallel port, there was a "dongle" that you plugged into the parallel
    port that would kill the password (you can find instructions online for
    making it, it requires a DB-25 plug and soldering). Not sure if that
    model still had a parallel port or not, or if that method worked.

    You may be able to find out if there is a password by downloading (from
    the Toshiba web site) HWSETUP, a program that runs under Windows (it's
    basically a BIOS setup program that runs under Windows).

    Another possibility, some Toshiba models can access the passwords
    through a utility SVPW32.EXE located in C:\PROGRAM FILES\TOSHIBA\WINDOWS
    UTILITIES\SVPWTOOL.

    Note: I just checked a "secret" service manual that I have for this
    model and it says to use the parallel port dongle that I referred to
    above to remove lost passwords on this model.

    Barry Watzman



    Jeff wrote:
    >> I'm wondering if someone flashed the wrong bios at some point.

    >
    > Thanks for the continued help Barry. I could be wrong, but I'm 95% sure
    > that this unit booted fine several months ago. I bought it used,
    > specifically to get the restore software that came with it so I could
    > refurbish a friend's A45-S151 (the one I borrowed) and then resell this one
    > after refurbishing it too. I'm almost positive that I turned it on when I
    > got it just to see what was present. I do have a couple of other laptops in
    > the same process, so I may have swapped this in my mind with another unit.
    >
    > Any ideas on how to clear any possible passwords and/or somehow get to where
    > I can reflash the BIOS would be greatly appreciated.
    >
    >
    >>>> In that vein, I do have a Toshiba USB floppy drive that I got after
    >>> getting
    >>>> the laptop but I've not used it. Since I had no success changing the

    > boot
    >>>> order or booting from CD with known good media and drive, I guess I

    > didn't
    >>>> bother trying the next step of trying a boot floppy. I can give that a
    >>>> whirl and post back.
    >>> Thanks for all the ideas so far. I tried booting to floppy with the

    > same
    >>> result. The floppy spins and lights up but the system only tried

    > booting
    >>> from the hard drive, I can't get to F12 to select an alternate boot

    > device
    >>> and am still limited in BIOS to time and password changes.
    >>>
    >>>> I do not know how to clear passwords on this particular model. But a
    >>>> web search would likely turn that information up.
    >>> Would anyone have any idea what to search for to let me find

    > instructions on
    >>> the secret method of clearing a password on a machine that potentially

    > set
    >>> one on its own??

    >
    >
     
    Barry Watzman, Sep 13, 2009
    #5
  6. I made my dongle.

    I have not used it in a while, but I think you just plug it in (with the
    machine off), then turn on the machine, let it complete POST, turn it
    off and remove the dongle. At least that's my recollection.

    There is also a floppy diskette you can make, with a very special 1st
    sector, that will disable the password on some (many, most) older
    models. Of course, no unit has had a floppy since about 2003 (I have no
    idea if that diskette will work with a USB drive on any later models).


    Jeff wrote:
    > <snip>
    >> On some older Toshiba models with a parallel port, there was a
    >> "dongle" that you plugged into the parallel port that would kill the
    >> password. I just checked a "secret" service manual that I have for this
    >> model and it says to use the parallel port dongle to remove lost
    >> passwords on this model.

    >
    > Thanks Barry. I have now bought and received a parallel port dongle. Does
    > anyone know if there's anything special that needs to be done? Just plug it
    > in and start the machine? Am I looking for any kind of message or amount of
    > time before I reboot without the dongle unattached?
    >
    > Thanks in advance for any help.
    >
    >
     
    Barry Watzman, Nov 25, 2009
    #6
  7. Barry Watzman

    BillW50 Guest

    Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

    In news:heif6n$1r9$-september.org,
    Barry Watzman typed on Wed, 25 Nov 2009 00:26:31 -0500:
    > .... Of course, no unit has had a floppy since about 2003 (I have
    > no idea if that diskette will work with a USB drive on any later
    > models).


    I have researched this and I can't find any problems with USB floppies.
    As long as the BIOS supports booting from an USB floppy drive that is.
    Even BIOS flashing works. If anybody learns differently I would sure
    love to hear about it.

    --
    Bill
    Gateway MX6124 ('06 era) - Windows XP SP2
     
    BillW50, Nov 25, 2009
    #7
  8. The ability of some Toshiba laptops to bypass the BIOS password using a
    special floppy disk was so unique, that I don't think you can draw any
    conclusions about whether this is supported on non-floppy laptops models
    from .... anything.


    BillW50 wrote:
    > In news:heif6n$1r9$-september.org,
    > Barry Watzman typed on Wed, 25 Nov 2009 00:26:31 -0500:
    >> .... Of course, no unit has had a floppy since about 2003 (I have
    >> no idea if that diskette will work with a USB drive on any later
    >> models).

    >
    > I have researched this and I can't find any problems with USB floppies.
    > As long as the BIOS supports booting from an USB floppy drive that is.
    > Even BIOS flashing works. If anybody learns differently I would sure
    > love to hear about it.
    >
     
    Barry Watzman, Nov 25, 2009
    #8
  9. Barry Watzman

    ~misfit~ Guest

    Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

    Somewhere on teh intarwebs Barry Watzman wrote:
    > The ability of some Toshiba laptops to bypass the BIOS password using
    > a special floppy disk was so unique, that I don't think you can draw
    > any conclusions about whether this is supported on non-floppy laptops
    > models from .... anything.


    I removed the BIOS password on a Tosh Sat A100 (no parallel port) recently
    by lifting the keyboard (but leaving it attached), unseating the WAN card
    underneath the keyboard thus exposing the two naked lands that are under
    there on the mobo.

    The trick is to short the lands ('jumper' them) while turning the machine
    on. I used a screwdriver. As soon as you see the Toshiba splash screen you
    can remove the short and power down. Next time you boot the password has
    been removed.

    I hope that this info doesn't get used by theives....
    --
    Shaun.

    "Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's
    warm for the rest of his life." Terry Pratchet, 'Jingo'.
     
    ~misfit~, Nov 28, 2009
    #9
  10. All laptops, as far as I know, have a set of pads that can be shorted to
    remove the password. However, the locations vary by model and are
    supposed to be "secret", but some of them leak.

    The Toshiba A100/A105 series is an interesting situation, because that
    "series" consisted of hundreds of models that really bore almost nothing
    in common. They don't even all use the same power supply voltage.


    ~misfit~ wrote:
    > Somewhere on teh intarwebs Barry Watzman wrote:
    >> The ability of some Toshiba laptops to bypass the BIOS password using
    >> a special floppy disk was so unique, that I don't think you can draw
    >> any conclusions about whether this is supported on non-floppy laptops
    >> models from .... anything.

    >
    > I removed the BIOS password on a Tosh Sat A100 (no parallel port) recently
    > by lifting the keyboard (but leaving it attached), unseating the WAN card
    > underneath the keyboard thus exposing the two naked lands that are under
    > there on the mobo.
    >
    > The trick is to short the lands ('jumper' them) while turning the machine
    > on. I used a screwdriver. As soon as you see the Toshiba splash screen you
    > can remove the short and power down. Next time you boot the password has
    > been removed.
    >
    > I hope that this info doesn't get used by theives....
     
    Barry Watzman, Nov 28, 2009
    #10
  11. Barry Watzman

    ~misfit~ Guest

    Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

    Somewhere on teh intarwebs Barry Watzman wrote:
    > All laptops, as far as I know, have a set of pads that can be shorted
    > to remove the password. However, the locations vary by model and are
    > supposed to be "secret", but some of them leak.
    >
    > The Toshiba A100/A105 series is an interesting situation, because that
    > "series" consisted of hundreds of models that really bore almost
    > nothing in common. They don't even all use the same power supply
    > voltage.


    Yeah, I know. I did specify 'Sat' and 'A100' which was short for Satellite
    A100. FYI the one I just did was a model PSAA9A. Some other models in the
    series have the pads under the stuck-down black plastic mobo protecting film
    under the right-hand side RAM slot....

    I could keep going but, as you say it's supposed to be secret and those two
    locations cover a lot of the laptops in the series...

    "All laptops" have the pads? Now that I didn't know.
    --
    Shaun.

    "Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's
    warm for the rest of his life." Terry Pratchet, 'Jingo'.

    > ~misfit~ wrote:
    >> Somewhere on teh intarwebs Barry Watzman wrote:
    >>> The ability of some Toshiba laptops to bypass the BIOS password
    >>> using a special floppy disk was so unique, that I don't think you
    >>> can draw any conclusions about whether this is supported on
    >>> non-floppy laptops models from .... anything.

    >>
    >> I removed the BIOS password on a Tosh Sat A100 (no parallel port)
    >> recently by lifting the keyboard (but leaving it attached),
    >> unseating the WAN card underneath the keyboard thus exposing the two
    >> naked lands that are under there on the mobo.
    >>
    >> The trick is to short the lands ('jumper' them) while turning the
    >> machine on. I used a screwdriver. As soon as you see the Toshiba
    >> splash screen you can remove the short and power down. Next time you
    >> boot the password has been removed.
    >>
    >> I hope that this info doesn't get used by theives....
     
    ~misfit~, Nov 29, 2009
    #11
  12. Let me modify "all" to "substantially all". Absolutes always have
    exceptions. But all retail/consumer laptops have some means to reset
    the password, and often more than one. Fundamentally, the password is
    stored in a flash memory chip, which is most easily dealt with directly,
    e.g. erase the chip's contents.


    ~misfit~ wrote:

    >
    > "All laptops" have the pads? Now that I didn't know.
     
    Barry Watzman, Nov 29, 2009
    #12
  13. Barry Watzman

    ~misfit~ Guest

    Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

    Somewhere on teh intarwebs Barry Watzman wrote:>
    > ~misfit~ wrote:
    >> "All laptops" have the pads? Now that I didn't know.

    >
    > Let me modify "all" to "substantially all". Absolutes always have
    > exceptions. But all retail/consumer laptops have some means to reset
    > the password, and often more than one. Fundamentally, the password is
    > stored in a flash memory chip, which is most easily dealt with
    > directly, e.g. erase the chip's contents.


    You should get onto forums.thinkpads and let some of the folks there know
    about this. There are a bunch of folks who have binned mobos due to being
    locked out of them.
    --
    Cheers,
    Shaun.

    "Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's
    warm for the rest of his life." Terry Pratchet, 'Jingo'.
     
    ~misfit~, Nov 29, 2009
    #13
  14. You have a hardware problem. The first thing to do is run a GOOD,
    self-booting memory diagnostic (memtest+ or memtest86). See if that
    runs ok. If the memory diagnostic does run ok ... this could be a bad
    motherboard.


    Jeff wrote:
    > Jeff wrote ...
    >> <snip>
    >>> I have not used it in a while, but I think you just plug it in (with the
    >>> machine off), then turn on the machine, let it complete POST, turn it
    >>> off and remove the dongle.

    >> Well, since your "secret" service manual says to use the parallel port
    >> dongle to remove lost passwords on this model, I think I'll try that first
    >> and hope for the best. The machine is worthless as is, so there's not

    > much
    >> to lose...

    >
    > Well, I have good news and confusing news to report...
    > The dongle worked as advertised. I booted with it installed, powered down
    > and removed it, then restarted the machine. I was able to change the boot
    > device and enter BIOS with the ability to change the boot order, etc.
    >
    > I then ran the recovery process. The ghosted image restored and then, when
    > the machine restarted, I got the same problem that started it all... the
    > WinXP splash screen came up, the progress bar completed one pass and then
    > the video froze and showed a ghosted image of the WinXP logo off to the
    > right of the real one and the two images were displayed in alternating
    > vertical stripes, almost as thought you were looking through vertical
    > blinds. There were also 4 or 5 thin vertical stripes that were flashing as
    > though video was being displayed though them like it used to if you used an
    > older monitor with a new system that couldn't display things properly. At
    > that point, there was no further boot progress.
    >
    > In order to do a bit more troubleshooting, I booted the system with a live
    > Linux CD - it booted and ran OK. I then tried installing Ubuntu. It
    > started and then the screen went wonky again, with pixellating lines all
    > over. I then repartitioned it, ran scandisk on the hard drive overnight (no
    > errors), and reran the recovery process. Same shadow image when the XP
    > splash screen appears - and it does this both during the ordinary booting
    > process as well as during an attempted safe mode boot.
    >
    > As I was typing the above, I remembered one other thing I meant to try. I
    > reset the BIOS to default values and reran the recovery process - still a
    > messed up WinXP splash screen after the progress bar makes 2 or 3 passes.
    >
    > If anyone has ideas, I'd be grateful for the help.
    >
    >
    >
     
    Barry Watzman, Jan 1, 2010
    #14
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