I dismantled a broken old laptop for spare parts. I'm trying to salvage the old Seagate mechanical HDD but it (firmware?) is password protected. I'm not sure if that means it's encrypted or not.

What are my options? Can I bypass or defeat it somehow? Failing that, can it be erased, formatted, or overwritten with a fresh OS?

Here are some screenshots to illustrate what I'm dealing with:

Enter HDD User Password HDD Password Invalidate BIOS - Set HDD Password BIOS - Invalid HDD Password System Disabled - 23130

  • Wouldn't a BIOS factory reset (restore default settings) solve this issue?
    – Jeroen
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 6:04
  • 4
    If you just want the drive, can't you just format the drive by attaching it to another machine? Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 6:21
  • 1
    When I Google this question, there are a TON of resources and tutorials walking people through this problem. Can you tell us what you tried?
    – schroeder
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 6:49

2 Answers 2


Traditionally an ATA disk password will not enable encryption for data at rest on the disk. BIOS factory reset will not reset what is known as the ATA User password. The ATA Master and User passwords are stored on the disk drive's physical firmware.

The drive can be unlocked using a (factory-installed) Master password (which generally only becomes relevant when the User password is set) or using the User password.

For some fun background reading on the the use of ATA passwords and disk drives refer to the T13 Working Group ATA Command Set (search the PDF for password).

There are several tools and techniques available to obtain the Master password depending on drive type.

I have not had to workaround a Seagate drive, but the general order involves feeding a manufacturer specific script (available on forums) to a tool like MHDD or Victoria to dump data located in the drive's firmware which contains the Master or User password, parse and translate (with your brain) the output with a hex editor to yield the Master or User password, and then use MHDD or Victoria to unlock the drive with the password.

There are many posts on hddguru forums outlining the process for various manufacturers and drives.


If you are able to, try popping out the CMOS chip on the motherboard.

Check your mobo documentation and look for a jumper pin that needs to be set to clear the password.

  • I think the OP is saying that they installed the HD in another computer. Interacting with the motherboard would not help in this situation.
    – schroeder
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 14:33

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