Erasing or formatting an encrypted disk.

hddrecoveryguy

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Sep 21, 2013
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I have a 1.8 inch HDD, sata, which I was using on my dell XT2. I enabled TPM and set the HDD , password at boot time. In addition, I had setup a admin password.So, when I used the Admin password, I didnt need to use the HDD password, One day I reset the bios and along with it the admin password. Thereafter, while booting , the HDD password popped up and I couldnt remember it. There went the disk. I got a Sata to USB adapter and connected up the disk.
Windows recognises the disk and it shows up in disk management, but the disk is not initialised.
When I try to initialise it, I get and error stating I/O device error.
When accessing the disk through diskpart, i tried to clear the read only attribute, but with no success. Have tried samsungs low level format utility, Hddparams wipe utility etc.. but no success. Have tried accessing it through linux, but no success....

I am not interested in the data, i just want to re-initialise the hdd and use it like an external hard disk. But it seems that Dell's security solution is really solid. Am not able to access or even format the disk.

Would really appreciate any help towards getting to use the harddisk...
 

popatim

Titan
Moderator
We don't help in these situations as we can't verify you actually own the drive or laptop and suggest you contact Dell with your proof of ownership; but you're saying you don't recall the old admin password that you used for how long? Seems rather suspicious to me....
 

hddrecoveryguy

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Sep 21, 2013
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Hi
I agree with you that this sounds suspicious.. However, I have all records of my emails and those from Dell regarding this issue. they did verify the owner ship and then we spent over a week trying out different passwords that they generated..but to no avail.
As regards to the owner ship, I have the invoice, verification from Dell to back it up.. so my case is genuine.
As regards to the password issue, I set two passwords - one admin and the second was a HDD password. For a couple of years I logged in using the admin password, which was good enough to take care of the hdd password also. But foolishly.. I removed the admin password . so the next time i booted the comp.. the HDD password kicked in and since I had not used the hdd password for two years. boom.. Its just that I have a complete back up on my docking station.. so the data is inconsequential.. I have also bought a ssd and am using the laptop.. I just wanted to use the HDD.. why waste good hardware??? Thats all.
If you have a solution, then I am willing to go the extra mile to prove it that I am indeed the owner.
Thanks..
 

rflulling

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Sep 24, 2013
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I don't know what the Toms hardware policy is regarding this matter, I dont work for the site. But, here is the thing. Erasing a HDD should always be possible even if the data is encrypted. In fact, that is probably about all you can do. Just not on "that computer." As far as the built in passwords and TPM go. Depending on how well the system is built, that PC may be a brick. You WILL need to figure out what you used for a password to un brick it.

A hard core system will protect a system from theft by making it virtually useless to thief, and data all but impossible to recover. Sure you scrap out some of the parts but the motherboard is bricked without the correct code. Lesser security systems will simply insure the data is impossible to recover by encrypting it. But, once the drive has been zeroed and the bios password is reset, the computer can be reloaded again. -I would like to believe both of you are aware of this already.

I personally hate encrypted systems, not because of their anti theft properties, but because they can make recovery from a system crash almost impossible. Try getting windows 8 to work right on a Toshiba with EFI Encrypted partitions enabled. I swear windows 8 likes to self destruct and when it does... Passwords, are irrelevant. It wont boot, refuses to be soft fixed, and is encrypted -so forget about recover data and start fresh.

Word to the wise, don't mess with TPM or Encrypted partitions, unless you NEED the security, and are otherwise PREPARED to deal with the possible chance of loosing everything.
 

popatim

Titan
Moderator
The only way to clear the HDD password is on the system that put it in
IE - you need to reinstall it into your Dell.
I'm sure Dell should have been able to walk you thru something like that...
 

hddrecoveryguy

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Sep 21, 2013
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I appreciate the concern regarding stolen stuff. Like I said .. I have all the proof. :) Its good that these questions are being asked. Makes you believe in the system
Just to put the problem in perspective.

I have spent over 10 days with dell support trying to unlock the disk through a variety of techniques and passwords but with no success.
Windows 8/linux detects the disk through a sata-usb interface, but cannot format the disk as a" Disk Readonly"" error is generated. So not only is the data on the disk encrypted, but somehow the sata hardware on the disk has been set to a readonly state which does not allow any write operation /or read as a matter of fact with the disk.

So basically, the disk is a brick... until I can figure out a way to format it or reset it. The laptop is working fine with a new SSD that I bought.. so the hardware is ok. If i put the disk on the hardware, then while booting it stops at the hddpassword required state.. and does not proceed further.
I have a policy of writing down all passwords I have used till date. nothing works. I can only assume that as the HDD password was set using a Customised Security suite by Dell, and I later on uninstalled it. when I reset the admin password through bios and not the application , some indefinable state was reached wherein, even after installing the customised security suite, restoring the keys (yeah.. I had a backup of the encryption keys and password) the harddisk could not be unlocked. ...
therefore the option to format it.. but that is also looking increasingly remote. Hats off to the application.. and I have to grudgingly admit that it makes a great business laptop...
Guys and gals .. any help will be gratefully acknowledged.
 

rflulling

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Sep 24, 2013
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Sometimes a read only error can mean the HDD is indeed a brick. Sometimes it is a symptom of some kind of failure, or connection issue as it may be.

Best bet in any HDD service is a Direct connection, no adapters.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
This is not really an encryption issue, that is easy to get by with just a format if all you want is to use the drive.
The issue is that the HD password is in the drive firmware, not on the disk platters, which is why moving it to a different computer, trying an external drive, formatting, etc... will not work. Encryption is like taking a puzzle (your data), messing it up, placing it inside a box (your hard drive) and taping the instructions to the box (the encryption key). You can move the box from place to place and can do the puzzle no matter where the box is, as long as the instructions are there (you don't format or something to get rid of the encryption key). The HD password is like placing a lock on the box itself. The puzzle (your data in this case) is inside the box just fine, the issue is that they lock follows the box no matter where you put it and you don't have a key.

Dell or maybe the drive vendor has to generate an unlock password to get around this. A tech that has some experience with this stuff may be able to help also using another method but Toms has a policy of not handing out info for breaking passwords so you have to find a data recovery place and talk to them.
 

rflulling

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Sep 24, 2013
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True, no argument on what encryption is or how it works. But I have never seen a HDD with encrypted firmware. Encryption is in all cases I have seen, tied to the MB. Once parted the data remains encrypted but can easily be blown away, it is not write protected less you are trying to access the encrypted partition directly.
 

popatim

Titan
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I've never worked with Dell encrypted systems, only IBM/Lenovo and with those ther was always a quick method to reset which basically rendered the drive as empty (old data could not be unecrypted since the internal key is now reset) and made 'unlocked'. Again this could only be done from the laptop that set the key in the first place since the key is actually a 2 part key with the "master key" residing in the main TPM chip. I've never tried unlocking thru a usb dock so I couldnt say if that would work or not.

The reset was an easy & fast way to secure wipe a drive. With the new/reset key even a few years with the NSA probably wouldnt reveal anything usefull...

The reset key also reset the HDD password to none IIRC.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
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It's not encrypting the drive, it's just setting a lock on it, hence my "locked box" analogy. A disk encryption would act to scramble the data so it can't be read without the proper encryption key, if you just set a hard drive password, once you get past that, the data on the drive is not encrypted.
 

bacardi0505

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Nov 23, 2013
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The answer is Easeus partition master professional.



 

donnydarko13

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Apr 9, 2014
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Why not just wipe the drive to all zeros then reformat and start all over. If you don't care about the data, then encryption doesn't matter just reformat everything. I personally would run gparted from a linux machine. Delete partition tables and everything. Recreate partition table and reformat...
 

hang-the-9

Titan
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Re-read the first few posts, the issue is that the password is in the hard drive firmware, before any file system encryption.
 

popatim

Titan
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Its slightly more than that. TPM is more than just an encrypted drive. Perhaps that is where all the confusion is coming from. The TPM chip on the motherbd talks to the one on the drive. If they, either one, are not the expected one (via internal keys generated from the initial password that was entered) the the drive locks up tight. Thats why the drive, once set, will only work in the system that set it. Dell should be able to reset it but I doubt they can thru a usb adapter.

That's if i remember TPM correctly, but that's the gist of it.
 

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