|You need to understand that we get frequent requests about how to remove passwords that were set in the bios from laptops, we suspect the vast majority of the requests are from people who shouldn't have the right to remove it / them, and we have no way of confirming you are who you say you are.|
The last sentence at the last link referred to in response 5 states that there are other illegitimate ways of removing passwords but the rules of this web site forbid us from telling you about those.
You MAY be able to get a local technician who works on your brand of laptop to remove the passwords for a reasonable fee, if you can convince him in person that you should have the right to do so.
"if she can't remember the pw, we will have to buy a new hard drive and mother board and install (or pay to have this done)?"
They don't have to be new, and the maintenance manual you need to tell you how to take apart the laptop properly without damaging it is often free on the brand name's web site, or available free or for a small fee on the web, so you can replace the mboard yourself if you're handy.
"then it asks for the "built in HDD user pw".
That's what I call the hard drive access password.
Usually that was set in the bios Setup. There are some third party programs that do the same thing, but the situation is usually the same because you can't do anything to or with the hard drive unless you know the password.
"I rebooted and did F2 and looked and it shows that this is "Registered"."
I have no idea what that indicates. The few laptops I've fiddled with had no passwords at all.
"Does that mean at some point she put a pw in?"
Possibly. Someone did.
"Also, would that be the pw that she used to log into windows every time?"
Not unless it was the same for both.
There are many ways the password used to Logon to Windows can be removed or changed, but you have to do things before you do that if you don't want to lose personal data. The Administrator user shown when you boot into Safe mode usually has no password, and in that case you have several options regarding fixing the user password problem. Or you can just install Windows from scratch, the no-brain solution, but usually that's un-necessary and short sighted and you lose all the personal data unless you copy it to elsewhere before you install Windows. You can't do any of that if the hard drive has a hard drive access password, or if the laptop has a computer access password, that you don't know.
"If that is the case, then I think I know WHY she forgot it. (Again, she is 78). My brother lives in another state and was worried about her downloading or getting a virus and he installed an OS called Ubuntu and so she hadn't been asked for the other one for a long time. She hated Ubuntu and when she tried to remove it/switch back to Windows is when we started having this problem."
The operating system installed on the hard drive has nothing to do with the passwords set in the bios Setup of the laptop. If the password(s) was(were) there she would have had to enter a computer access or hard drive access password or both even when she used Ubuntu, every time she used the computer after the operating system Shut Down the computer. She / whoever may also have had to enter it / them when she / they restarted the computer.
Is it possible your brother might know the passwords ?
How old she is is not relevant if she has a good memory. My Mom is 84, my Dad 85. My Mom might have a problem remembering a password but my Dad wouldn't.
You're supposed to use a password that's easy to remember because it's been something familiar to you for a long time. Neither of my parents have a problem with their long term memory.