While looking at various hard drive encryption methods, I discovered that HP's "DriveLock" is not quite the standard ATA security system. While I did get confirmation from HP that it does indeed use ATA security commands to lock and unlock the drive, I'm curious what it does to my password.

Moving a DriveLock'ed drive from one HP system to another (with different firmware) resulted in the password being incorrect. If I moved it to a different system with the same firmware, it worked.

I locked a drive with a ThinkPad that uses the normal HD Password setting, and the HP was unable to unlock it.

I suspect that HP DriveLock is mangling the password (or hashing it, or something) that you give it and giving the drive a completely different password.

I'm curious if anyone knows what DriveLock may be doing. My main concern is that if we lose an HP system when we don't have a same model, that drive becomes useless unless we can acquire another laptop with the same firmware that locked the drive.

  • Maybe this white paper helps? ftp.compaq.com/pub/supportinformation/papers/na118a0598.pdf – Jan Doggen Oct 3 '12 at 14:10
  • Jan, unfortunately it is not very detailed, it is also for a very old (compaq) implementation and details may differ from HP's current bios. I can confirm they they do not adhere to the Secure ATA standard since it cannot use a drive locked with hdparm. – sillyMunky Feb 22 '13 at 15:19

DriveLock is used along with Self-Encrypting Drives (SEDs).


Unfortunately, I have no idea what DriveLock is doing. None of their documentation even hints that they might be altering the password before passing it on to the drive to unlock it.

What I can tell you is that most hard drives have a factory-set master password, different from the user/master passwords that you set. It seems that a system with DriveLock also changes this master password whenever a user password is set, making it also useless.

With respect to your immediate problem, I would verify that the keyboard and BIOS language settings are the same in both systems. If one is different, then keys may be getting remapped without your knowledge, causing the passwords to not match.

Your best bet is probably going to be a very good backup system.

  • That's interesting. I didn't know about the factory master password. Thanks! It is sad that if DriveLock can completely ruin a hard drive if you don't happen to have another system with the same firmware to unlock it. Oh well, such is life. – Jason Taylor Oct 24 '12 at 14:08

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