Reset BIOS/CMOS password

Q I have four totally different computers. Six months ago I entered the same password on each of them to protect the CMOS. The password has six letters and a * and an &. Now that I need to install and change some hardware I'm finding out that none of the four computers is letting me into the CMOS with that password. There is absolutely no doubt the password is the right one. How do I reset the CMOS?

A It is most likely that the password you have given contains unacceptable characters. Resetting the CMOS varies somewhat from one motherboard to the next, but there is generally a motherboard jumper marked something like CLEAR CMOS or RESET RTC. You need to turn off the computer, move this jumper to the reset position - the is the opposite of its current setting - wait a few seconds then return it to the standard setting. Under no circumstances should you do this with the power on. In fact you should disconnect the power lead because the PSU will supply a small amount of power to the motherboard even when the computer is turned off. When you reconnect the power, you should find your BIOS has reverted to the default settings. The procedure can vary between manufacturers; you should only take the above a a guideline, except for the part about disconnecting the power lead - not doing so can wreck your motherboard. Check your motherboard's manual or search the manufacturer's website for a PDF version if you have no printed manual. It is important to stress that while the basic procedure is the same for all motherboards I've used, the details vary (one I checked required you to remove the motherboard battery too) so you must read the documentation before doing anything.

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