TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

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TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Jeff » Sat, 05 Sep 2009 07:30:18 GMT

I have a Toshiba A45-S120 laptop that has previously worked fine. I hadn't
turned it on for several weeks. When I tried last week, after the WinXP
splash screen came up, the progress bar completed one pass and then the
video froze and showed a ghosted image of the WinXP logo off to the right of
the real one and the two images were displayed in alternating vertical
stripes, almost as thought you were looking through vertical blinds. At that
point, there was no further boot progress.

Pressing Esc got me into the BIOS page, so it doesn't appear that there was
a hardware video problem. The only options that I could change in the BIOS
were the time and password (which is not set). With the recovery DVD in the
drive, I couldn't get the system to boot to the CD/DVD drive no matter what
I did. I tried all the suggestions I found of F12, F2, etc., and nothing
highlighted any of the row of icons across the bottom of the Toshiba splash
screen. When I booted, unless I pressed Esc, the system recognized the
failed Windows boot and went into the text screen giving me all the safe
mode start options.

Next, I was able to borrow an A45-S151 with the same CD-RW/DVD drive.  I was
able to boot the S151 from a CD and also read data from the CD once it was
booted.  While booting this unit via the F12 key, I noticed that all the
options were available for me to change in the BIOS setup - not just time
and password.

I then tried this known good CD drive in my S120 - it wouldn't boot and the
system went immediately to the hard drive and tried to start in safe mode.
In setup, I only had access to time and password.  I then tried the suspect
drive in the known good S151 - I was able to boot from CD, read data and, in
setup, I had access to all options.

So, after ruling out a dead CD/DVD drive, I went one step further and
reformatted the hard drive in the S120 system to see if the inability to
attempt booting from it would give me an option of changing the boot order.
Now, the only change I get upon booting is an 'invalid system disk' error
message - I still can't change the boot order.

I'm back to a non-booting S120 that won't allow me to change the boot
device - the only real progress I've made is that WinXP is no longer trying
to boot into safe mode.

Can anyone tell if this stuff is symptomatic of a dying system or if there
is something I can do to resurrect it and force the DVD restore somehow?
Refurbishing desktops is a hobby of mine but I haven't had much experience
with troubleshooting and repairing laptop issues, so thanks in advance for
any pointers.  I'm out of ideas and would greatly appreciate any tips or
expertise.




Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Barry Watzman » Sat, 05 Sep 2009 10:05:02 GMT

'd like to have the system in front of me.

You may have a "BIOS Password" set that makes it impossible to get into
the "real" BIOS. [Note, a bug in some BIOS versions of some Toshiba
laptops is that they establish passwords "all by themselves", and the
nature of the bug is such that once this happens .... you have to return
the laptop to Toshiba (that's the official line; unofficially, there are
"secret" ways to clear it). You may also just have an old BIOS version.
I'd try updating the BIOS (you probably will need a USB floppy drive
to do that).

Also, this model is prone to CPU overheating due to dust, hair and dirt
clogging and completely (COMPLETELY) obstructing the CPU fan and
heatsink (in fact, this model has TWO fans, also). Actually ALL modern
laptops have a need for periodic cleaning, but this model is worse than
most (although it's only "slightly" exceptional, and only by degrees).
On this model, significant disassembly is required to resolve this, e.g.
to really clean the inside of the unit, in particular the heat sink and
fan (fan(S), in this case). An overheated CPU will usually lock the
system up completely but may just make it incredibly flakey.

So, if it were mine, the two things on my agenda (in this order) would
be to disassemble the system to clean the cooling system, and then
update the bios (if the system is flaky, do NOT update the bios until
the "flakeyness" is resolved; a lockup or blue screen during a bios
update can "brick" the unit).


Jeff wrote:

Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Jeff » Sat, 05 Sep 2009 11:56:45 GMT

gt; You may have a "BIOS Password" set that makes it impossible to get into

Thanks for the reply. Interestingly enough, when I was grasping at straws,
trying to find anything I could reseat, I took off the panels at the bottom
rear that gave me access to the CPU heatsink. The fins on the deck-of-cards
sized heatsink had *zero* dust accumulated. You mentioned a second fan -
would the cleanliness of this heatsink cause you to move on to attempt the
BIOS update first? Or...

In that vein, I do have a Toshiba USB floppy drive that I got after getting
the laptop but I've not used it. Since I had no success changing the boot
order or booting from CD with known good media and drive, I guess I didn't
bother trying the next step of trying a boot floppy. I can give that a
whirl and post back.

Re: the 'secret' BIOS clearing: is that something I can do with
instructions, or is that somethig I'll need to send the machine to someone
for?






hadn't
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time
the
mode.
suspect
and, in
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experience
for



Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby John Doue » Sat, 05 Sep 2009 14:51:02 GMT



snip

snip

Very nice way to ask!


John Doue

Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Barry Watzman » Sun, 06 Sep 2009 15:40:39 GMT

I do not know how to clear passwords on this particular model.  But a 
web search would likely turn that information up.






Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Jeff » Mon, 14 Sep 2009 11:41:41 GMT

> In that vein, I do have a Toshiba USB floppy drive that I got after
getting

Thanks for all the ideas so far.  I tried booting to floppy with the same
result.  The floppy spins and lights up but the system only tried booting
from the hard drive, I can't get to F12 to select an alternate boot device
and am still limited in BIOS to time and password changes.


Would anyone have any idea what to search for to let me find instructions on
the secret method of clearing a password on a machine that potentially set
one on its own??



Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Barry Watzman » Tue, 15 Sep 2009 01:25:40 GMT

I'm wondering if someone flashed the wrong bios at some point.  Your 
behavior is not normal for this model.  Another possibility is a BIOS 
supervisor (but NOT "user") password.  In fact that is what seems most 
likely.






Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Jeff » Tue, 15 Sep 2009 02:10:29 GMT

> I'm wondering if someone flashed the wrong bios at some point.

Thanks for the continued help Barry.  I could be wrong, but I'm 95% sure
that this unit booted fine several months ago.  I bought it used,
specifically to get the restore software that came with it so I could
refurbish a friend's A45-S151 (the one I borrowed) and then resell this one
after refurbishing it too.  I'm almost positive that I turned it on when I
got it just to see what was present.  I do have a couple of other laptops in
the same process, so I may have swapped this in my mind with another unit.

Any ideas on how to clear any possible passwords and/or somehow get to where
I can reflash the BIOS would be greatly appreciated.


boot
didn't
same
booting
device
instructions on
set



Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Barry Watzman » Tue, 15 Sep 2009 06:32:39 GMT

I believe that you may have a supervisor password set.  But I'm not sure 
how to clear it on that model.  On some older Toshiba models with a 
parallel port, there was a "dongle" that you plugged into the parallel 
port that would kill the password (you can find instructions online for 
making it, it requires a DB-25 plug and soldering).  Not sure if that 
model still had a parallel port or not, or if that method worked.

You may be able to find out if there is a password by downloading (from 
the Toshiba web site) HWSETUP, a program that runs under Windows (it's 
basically a BIOS setup program that runs under Windows).

Another possibility, some Toshiba models can access the passwords 
through a utility SVPW32.EXE located in C:\PROGRAM FILES\TOSHIBA\WINDOWS 
UTILITIES\SVPWTOOL.

Note: I just checked a "secret" service manual that I have for this 
model and it says to use the parallel port dongle that I referred to 
above to remove lost passwords on this model.

Barry Watzman
 XXXX@XXXXX.COM 





Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Jeff » Thu, 26 Nov 2009 08:37:00 GMT

<snip>

Thanks Barry.  I have now bought and received a parallel port dongle.  Does
anyone know if there's anything special that needs to be done?  Just plug it
in and start the machine?  Am I looking for any kind of message or amount of
time before I reboot without the dongle unattached?

Thanks in advance for any help.



Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Barry Watzman » Thu, 26 Nov 2009 14:26:31 GMT

I made my dongle.

I have not used it in a while, but I think you just plug it in (with the 
machine off), then turn on the machine, let it complete POST, turn it 
off and remove the dongle.  At least that's my recollection.

There is also a floppy diskette you can make, with a very special 1st 
sector, that will disable the password on some (many, most) older 
models.  Of course, no unit has had a floppy since about 2003 (I have no 
idea if that diskette will work with a USB drive on any later models).





Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Jeff » Thu, 26 Nov 2009 14:37:56 GMT

<snip>

Well, since your "secret" service manual says to use the parallel port
dongle to remove lost passwords on this model, I think I'll try that first
and hope for the best.  The machine is worthless as is, so there's not much
to lose...



Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby BillW50 » Fri, 27 Nov 2009 04:35:53 GMT


Barry Watzman typed on Wed, 25 Nov 2009 00:26:31 -0500:

I have researched this and I can't find any problems with USB floppies. 
As long as the BIOS supports booting from an USB floppy drive that is. 
Even BIOS flashing works. If anybody learns differently I would sure 
love to hear about it.

-- 
Bill
Gateway MX6124 ('06 era) - Windows XP SP2 



Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby Barry Watzman » Fri, 27 Nov 2009 07:12:44 GMT

The ability of some Toshiba laptops to bypass the BIOS password using a 
special floppy disk was so unique, that I don't think you can draw any 
conclusions about whether this is supported on non-floppy laptops models 
from .... anything.







Re: TOSHIBA A45-S120 - unable to change boot order to restore from DVD recovery medium

Postby ~misfit~ » Sun, 29 Nov 2009 10:07:48 GMT



I removed the BIOS password on a Tosh Sat A100 (no parallel port) recently 
by lifting the keyboard (but leaving it attached), unseating the WAN card 
underneath the keyboard thus exposing the two {*filter*} lands that are under 
there on the mobo.

The trick is to short the lands ('jumper' them) while turning the machine 
on. I used a screwdriver. As soon as you see the Toshiba splash screen you 
can remove the short and power down. Next time you boot the password has 
been removed.

I hope that this info doesn't get used by theives....
-- 
Shaun.

"Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's 
warm for the rest of his life." Terry Pratchet, 'Jingo'. 



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