How-To: Remove Dell Latitude C600 Administrator Password

Let me preface this by saying that you will need to spend at least an hour on this project, and will most likely need to balance components in strange and complex ways to make everything work… but it will work.

The C600 series of laptops from Dell were particularly mean because the administrator/primary passwords could not be erased by removing power and the CMOS battery. Heck, they didn't even have a nice jumper that could be used to blow away the settings. So if you bought one of these things second hand and find that it's completely locked out and Dell won't help you (surprise… ?), here's what you're going to have to do:

  1. Disassemble the entire laptop. Everything except the LCD, by which I mean remove the LCD but don't disassemble the panel itself. Everything else has to be pulled. You'll end up with something that looks like this:
  2. Find the chipset that holds all this password pain. It's the one boxed in red in this picture:
  3. (Optional, but makes things easier): Solder a wire about 10 inches long to the pins indicated in this picture:

    If it's difficult to see, it's the third pin from the right on the top and bottom when viewed from the same perspective as the picture.

  4. Connect the video card/riser board, power switch riser board, LCD display and keyboard… and nothing else.
  5. If you put the wires on the pins, hold them together to short the pins while turning on the power. If you didn't attach wires, use a paperclip or wire (or whatever you'd like) to short them.
  6. Within about two seconds, start shorting and unshorting the pins at a rate of about one change per second. The display may show the administrator password lockout for a moment, but then should switch to show a message about resetting the system. If the message is not displayed, power off and restart this process at the power-on.
  7. Once the message is displayed stop shorting the pins and press the "FN" and "X" keys to wipe the settings.
  8. When the settings are wiped it's time to reboot. You should see a message about setup needing to be run. If you don't then power off and repeat this process at the power on… you didn't actually reset the settings.
  9. Reassemble the entire laptop.

Congratulations… you now are the proud owner of an unlocked laptop. On first boot you'll need to reset all the BIOS settings.

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