Wednesday, October 12, 2011

0199 Error Resolved for Thinkpads

This is a hardware post. We don't sell much hardware, in fact we are only Lenovo dealers because of laptops and a rare server.

But I have been working on Thinkpad's since 1993/1994 when I used to manage upper memory blocks, a la QEMM and built-in MS-DOS6 options, so we could get other apps to run. In any event, the older people know what I reference and why it was important then.

Anyway, so over the course of about 2 weeks we had 3 laptops and one desktop all go bad. In 2 cases a hard drive replacement was needed, one a blown power supply which fried the motherboard(desktop) and another which worked but suddenly had this 0199 error.Eventually the other laptops got it as well.

For those that do not know an 0199 error on a Thinkpade, these are T60, T61 and SL510 models means that someone has exceeded their password attempts on a machine with a security code for BIOS administration or one of the BIOS passwords.

What is interesting in searching the web is some units, the T series ones, you can press ESC instead of F1 when prompted at boot to continue on to windows. Can't do that on the SL models.

There are some people on eBay that will "fix" your laptop for you for various prices, from $10-$100 a unit. I was in discussion with one about this before fixing them. There is also a person in Austrailia that sells a hardware card device to help assist when you do not know the passwords. Search for Joe in Austrailia prices are between $125-$250.

Now I was lucky enough to find a 4 year old reference that had the correct password and then proceeded to clear the references and check through the BIOS. BUT this only worked on the T series.

The SL510 does not accept ESC and the passwords had been cleared. The problem is with Lenovo's software that sits in Windows and monitors security. So if the user had thought it meant their Windows password, try three times and then BAM dead machine. Error 0199 exceeded attempts to login. So how do you fix this? I found some Chinese tech notes that outlined some options.

1) Cold boot then try to use SHIFT-F1 when prompted to press F1.This may take you to a security screen. In my case it did not.
2) If you can get to the BIOS, which I could when I press F1, tell the unit to revert to the default BIOS setups by pressing F9 or whatever key stroke your model says. This worked on mine. Then press F10 to save it and reboot it. POOF! It worked. On a desktop- it's like resetting a jumper on a motherboard.

So there you have it, this may not help you if you don't know the passwords, but to get around an 0199 error is really not too difficult. Hope this helps someone some time.