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Unlocking a password protected harddisk

During development of the Rockbox firmware, on several occations the harddisk has become locked, i.e. password protected. This results in the Archos displaying:

Part. Error
Pls Chck HD

We are still not 100% sure why it happened. Theories range from low-power conditions to accidental chip select failure. It has also happened for normal users, using the standard Archos-supplied firmware, although it was more frequent for us developers.

Note: None of us developers have experienced this problem since march 2002.

We do however know how to unlock the disk:

Windows/DOS unlock

Note: This requires taking the Archos apart, which will void your warranty!

  1. Grab atapwd (written by Alex Mina)
  2. Create a bootable DOS floppy disk, and put atapwd.exe on it
  3. Remove the harddisk from your Archos and plug it into a laptop (or a standard PC, using a 3.5" => 2.5" IDE adapter)
  4. Boot from the floppy and run atapwd.exe
  5. Select the locked harddrive and press enter for the menu
  6. For Fujitsu disks: Choose "unlock with user password", then "disable with user password". The password is empty, so just press enter at the prompt.
  7. For Toshiba disks, if the above doesn't work: Choose "unlock with master password", then "disable with master password". The password is all spaces.
  8. Your disk is now unlocked. Shut down the computer and remove the disk.

Big thanks to Magnus Andersson for discovering the Fujitsu (lack of) user password!

There is also a program for win32, ArchosUnlock.exe, that creates a linux boot disk with the below mentioned patched isd200 driver.

Linux unlock

For those of us using Linux, we have written an isd200 driver patch for unlocking the disk. This modified driver will automatically unlock the disk when you connect your Archos via USB, so you don't have to do anything special. Apply the patch to a 2.4.18 linux kernel tree.

Page was last modified __FILE_DATE__ Björn Stenberg