I have recently found a number of Lenovo laptops for sale on Ebay that have the BIOS supervisor password set.  The can seriously limit the usability of the machine, and in some cases make it virtually useless. Sometimes, the sellers don’t even know what “BIOS supervisor password” is, and falsely claim it is not set.

Here is the problem: once the password is set, it can only be removed if you know what it is.  There is no way to clear it.  The official statement on Lenovo support is:

If you forget your supervisor password, Lenovo cannot reset your password. You must take your computer to a Lenovo Service Provider to have the system board replaced.

Believe it.  “System board replaced.”  That will likely cost as much as you paid for the machine.  Do not believe stuff found by Google searches that claim the password can be reset by removing the internal battery for an hour.  That’s many years out of date and does not work. Even worse, some claim there is a trick to short out a couple pins on the main board just when the machine starts.  However, you may also destroy some components if you don’t do it exactly right, and then you’ve completely bricked the machine and you’re back to “replace the system board”.

Here is the definitive way to tell if the BIOS supervisor password is set.

  1. Get into the BIOS as the machine is starting.  (Hit F1 repeatedly until you see the BIOS page.)  Hopefully, you will see a screen with a number of tabs and a page of info.  If you get a black screen with this icon in the upper left corner:    That’s bad news.  It means the supervisor password is set.  If you know the password, enter it.  If not, hit ‘enter’ only and you will get the BIOS pages with many item grayed out, meaning they cannot be changed.
  2. Just to be sure, move right to the “security” tab, then click the first item “Password”.  The page that appears should look like this:

If it does, great!  Note that the supervisor password is disabled.  That means not set.

However, if it looks like this:

Then it is set.  The result is that most of the settings on these BIOS pages cannot be changed.  You may not be able to boot from a USB device such as a CD/DVD drive, etc. On the page above, only the “hard disk1 password” in white is settable.  The items in blue are not.

Disclaimer:  The above applies specifically to Lenovo X130e and X120e.  It likely applies to other current and recent Lenovo models, but there may be some differences.