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HDD Unlock Wizard Frequently Asked Questions

What is HDD Unlock Wizard for?

All hard disk drives have the possibility to set a hardware password, thus making the drive completely inaccessible unless a correct password is provided during the BIOS POST test. When you set a password on your notebook, the drive becomes locked as well. XBox gaming consoles and some desktop computers can also lock hard disk drives. This is usually called "HDD password" or "ATA password".

If you forget the original HDD password, there is no way of restoring it by generic system tools. HDD Unlock Wizard incorporates proprietary unlocking algorithms which allow to remove an unknown HDD password and make hard drive usable again.

I'd like to unlock a hard drive but I want to recover data

HDD Unlock Wizard erases the entire drive upon unlocking. If you need a solution which is safe to data, please consider using Repair Station instead.

HDD Unlock Wizard does not work on my system

HDD Unlock Wizard works only on 32-bit Windows operating systems. You will also need administrator privileges to run the program.

HDD Unlock Wizard is unable to connect to the server, what should I do?

If you are at home, then please ensure that your firewall allows connections to the following address: hddunlock.com, TCP port 5412.

If you are at work, then you will have to talk to your network administrator about that.

Will HDD Unlock Wizard unlock my hard drive XYZ?

Supported Drives page will give you a general idea on what hard drives are supported by HDD Unlock Wizard. However, please keep in mind that the provided list is not complete. Please download HDD Unlock Wizard and run diagnostics (which is free). The program diagnoses the hard drive and displays a message whether the drive can be unlocked or not.

What if the unlocking process fails, will I get my money back?

Before purchasing Virtual Card Code, please download HDD Unlock Wizard and run diagnostics (which is free). The program diagnoses the hard drive and displays a message whether the drive can be unlocked or not.

If you experience any difficulties with the unlocking process, or if the unlocking process fails for any reason, then we will refund your purchase.

How can I run HDD Unlock Wizard if I cannot boot my PC/laptop with the locked drive?

HDD Unlock Wizard requires a fully functional operating system; therefore you would have to remove the hard drive off from the non-functioning PC and attach it to any working PC as a secondary drive.

Please also see the next two articles.

Can I unlock a USB/FireWire hard drive? Can I use a USB adapter to unlock my hard drive?

HDD Unlock Wizard requires direct access to the hard drive; it is impossible to unlock a hard drive via USB or FireWire adapter or enclosure. You would have to remove the hard drive out of the enclosure and attach it to any working PC as a secondary drive.

How should I attach a locked hard drive so that HDD Unlock Wizard will recognize it properly?

For Serial-ATA drives, you can just attach the drive to any SATA port, and HDD Unlock Wizard should work just fine.

IDE drives might need some additional steps.

First of all, please switch the drive into Master mode, which can be done by switching jumpers. There are different settings for different HDD manufacturers, and usually you can locate this information on the HDD (on the main sticker). Please note that for WD drives you have to remove all jumpers from the drive.

Second, attach the drive to a dedicated IDE cable. By dedicated we mean that there must be no other devices attached to the same IDE cable, such as: CD/DVD-ROM, other HDD, etc. If your system has only one IDE port, and you'd like to boot from an IDE drive, this might be a problem. In this case you have to boot from a S-ATA drive or use additional PCI IDE controller for your boot drive.

Why should I attach the drive as Master? Why can't I unlock a drive which is not single on a cable?

There are technical limitations on how a hard drive has to be attached. HDD Unlock Wizard requires dedicated access to the IDE port since the unlocking process can only be accomplished by using a non-standard protocol. IDE port becomes blocked for the whole unlocking process which can take an hour, so the operating system is unable to access the boot drive for a very long time, which is unacceptable for the operating system. Also, the second (Slave) CD or HDD device on the same cable might respond unpredictable to this protocol, so it is mandatory to remove all slave devices from the cable.

I cannot boot my computer with locked drive attached, what should I do?

Usually BIOS asks you to press F1 to continue the boot process; please go ahead and press F1. If the computer still freezes or does not boot properly, then you can try to disable the locked drive from BIOS settings. HDD Unlock Wizard will still find such drive.

If this still does not help, then you may try the following option. Disclaimer: you do this at your own risk; we cannot be responsible for any damage to your computer or hard drive! Please attach the IDE cable to the drive but do not attach the power. Attach the power after Windows boots (after you log in). HDD Unlock Wizard will still recognize such drive.

Can I unlock my notebook drive without removing and attaching it to a desktop PC?

Unfortunately, this is impossible due to technical limitations. Even if you could load the operating system from a CD, there are two things which make unlocking process impossible on a laptop. First is the fact that CD drives are usually attached as a Slave device on the same IDE channel (see explanation above). Second reason is that all laptops prevent locking and unlocking commands from being sent by a software (this is for extended security).

So, in order to unlock a laptop hard drive, you will have to remove it from the notebook and attach it to a desktop PC by using a 2.5-inch 44-pin IDE to 3.5-inch 40/80 pin IDE adapter (please note that SATA laptop drives do not require any adapters, only IDE drives do).

I would like to unlock a notebook drive. Does HDD Unlock Wizard work with laptops?

HDD Unlock Wizard only unlocks Hard Disk Drives. It does not remove BIOS user or administrator passwords. In order to unlock a laptop drive, you have to remove it from the notebook and attach it to a desktop PC by using a 2.5-inch 44-pin IDE to 3.5-inch 40/80 pin IDE adapter.

I do not feel comfortable performing the unlocking, can you do it for me?

We are sorry, but we won't be able to accept hard drives for manual unlocking. If you are not comfortable with the process, please ask someone for help.

Do you plan to add support for 2.5-inch Seagate, IBM and Hitachi drives?

Unfortunately, these drives cannot be unlocked by a software since there are lots of security measures implemented by these manufacturers. These drives can be unlocked only in a lab by performing some soldering work and using special equipment (such as Atola Insight).

Diagnostic process fails with the following message: "Cannot uninstall the drive"; what should I do?

Uninstallation of the locked drive needs to be done to prevent Windows from trying to access the drive while HDD Unlock Wizard diagnoses and unlocks it. If HDD Unlock Wizard cannot uninstall the drive from the system, then please close HDD Unlock Wizard and try to uninstall the drive manually by using Device Manager.

If this does not work for some reason, then you may try the following option. Disclaimer: you do this at your own risk, we cannot be responsible for any damage to your computer or hard drive! Shutdown the computer. Then attach the IDE cable to the drive but do not attach the power. Start the computer and boot into Windows. After Windows finishes loading, attach the power to the drive. HDD Unlock Wizard will still locate and recognize such drive.

HDD Unlock Wizard does not recognize my hard drive

Please make sure that your motherboard IDE/SATA controller is not running in AHCI/RAID mode.

Also, some chipsets (for example, SiS) and most PCI IDE/SATA/RAID controllers (for example, Promise, SiI/Silicon Image, HPT, Adaptec) do not support special non-standard protocol that HDD Unlock Wizard uses. We suggest that you only use standard IDE/SATA ports on your motherboard. The motherboard itself should not be based on a SiS chipset.

If these suggestions do not help, then please try HDD Unlock Wizard on a different platform.

Unlocking process failed

There might be several reasons for that. First of all, ensure that you do not have any SMART-monitor (or motherboard/fan/temperature monitor) running. Please close all such applications since they interfere with HDD Unlock Wizard. Also, some motherboard drivers might cause this problem, so the easiest way to resolve this would be to try the unlocking on another PC.

The unlocking process may also fail when the drive is physically damaged (bad blocks, firmware issues, electronic damage, etc). In this case nothing can be done.

Some chipsets (for example, SiS) and most PCI IDE/SATA/RAID controllers (for example, Promise, SiI/Silicon Image, HPT, Adaptec) do not support special non-standard protocol that HDD Unlock Wizard uses. We suggest that you only use standard IDE/SATA ports on your motherboard. The motherboard itself should not be based on a SiS chipset.

Please try the unlocking process again (preferably on another platform). Your license code will work again for the same drive. If nothing helps, please submit a refund request.

My hard drive does not work after unlocking

Please keep in mind that after unlocking the hard drive reverts to its "like-new" condition, and you have to create and format partitions. You may find a Microsoft article about partitioning by following this link.

My hard drive became smaller after unlocking

Unlocking itself does not change hard drive's capacity. The only possible explanation for this is that the hard drive has became smaller before it got locked. Please see this article for further details. The article also contains a link to a utility that allows restoring the original capacity.

My Virtual Card Code no longer works

One Virtual Card Code is valid only for one successful unlock. If you need to unlock multiple hard drives, please consider using a Unit card.

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