What Is the Factory BIOS Password on a MSI Motherboard?

By Norm Dickinson

The CMOS battery can be seen near the main power connector and IDE headers on this motherboard.
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The factory BIOS password for an MSI motherboard is left blank so that the end user can enter their own password to secure the system. To bypass a lost password the BIOS must be reset by removing the CMOS clock battery for a little while with the power disconnected. This sets the BIOS back to factory defaults and clears any passwords from the boot sequence. This process does not affect passwords entered into the operating system, such as Windows log on passwords, which remain intact after clearing the BIOS password.

BIOS Background

BIOS (which stands for "basic input/output system") configuration information is stored in the CMOS chip on the motherboard. The BIOS contains information and settings that control how the system starts up, what hardware is installed, and how this hardware communicates with the operating system. The BIOS also handles a start-up POST (or "power-on self test") sequence. A password can be set on the CMOS chip to require authentication every time the system boots or, alternately, every time the BIOS settings are accessed.

BIOS Password Reset

The BIOS password can be reset from within the CMOS setup program, but this requires access to the CMOS that can only be gained if the current password is known and entered correctly. The other way to reset the BIOS password is to allow the charge to drain from the CMOS chip, erasing all of the user settings, including passwords from the chip. This effectively clears the entire chip back to the original factory default settings, which do not require a password.

The Discharge Method

To eliminate the BIOS password and reset the CMOS back to factory defaults, the system must be powered down, the power cord removed, the case opened up and the battery removed. This is a fairly simple process on desktop computers, but can be significantly more complicated on laptops as the battery is often hidden deep within the system; worse, with laptops there are sometimes two batteries to contend with. There is always a CMOS battery on every MSI motherboard and removing it for an hour or so always resets the password.

Reset Jumpers

Many MSI motherboards contain a specific set of jumpers or a small switch that can also be used to reset the BIOS password. Refer to the motherboard manual or the MSI website for specific details on where the jumpers or switch is located on a particular board. This method also requires that the power be off and the cord disconnected and the duration for the setting is also recommended as one hour, although many boards can be reset in as few as two minutes.

Static Electricity

Nearly every component on the motherboard is sensitive to static electricity and can be damaged beyond repair by an accidental discharge when inside the computer. Avoid electrostatic discharge by wearing an anti-static wrist strap or other protective device. The internal electronic parts of a computer run on voltages ranging from around three volts to twelve volts. A single spark from static electricity can obtain a voltage greater than ten thousand volts for a short duration, and this can have an effect similar to lightening striking electrical systems.