Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ATAUtil: How to Use This Utility - 2

Use arrow key to select the option. Lets go through option one by one.

SELECT HARD DISK INTERFACE
Using this option, you can select at which interface your hard disk is connected. There are four locations at which your ATA hard disk can be connected. Primary Master, Primary Slave, Secondary Master and Secondary Slave. Select the option which is appropriate in your case. The option you selected will be reflected at the top of Graphic.
The default option selected is Primary Master.

This command is available even if hard disk is locked.

DISPLAY HARD DISK INFO
This option gives various details about your device. It gives information about Serial no., Firmware revision no., Model no.. It prints no. of User Addressable Sectors, which version of ATA is supported. Most important information about whether your device supports security feature is not, is displayed. If it says it supports security feature, you can go ahead. If it says it doesn't support security feature, don't play with this utility with device selected.
At the end of display, it prints status of command, whether command completed successfully, with error or aborted. If command doesn't completed successfully, don't play with this utility with the device selected. You can select other device on other channel and try on that.

If you don't know about channels at which your hard disk is connected, you can do trial and error. For example, if you selected primary master and then selected this option. If it says command completed with error or aborted that means at primary master CD/DVD ROM is connected or your hard disk might not able to complete the command. Now, repeat same for primary slave and secondary master and slave.

These option is the safe option because in this option nothing is written to hard disk. It just reads information from hard disk. So during this option, if command completes with error or aborted, just come out and select different channel and master-slave. Almost all subsequent options are one or other way writing to hard disk. So, again saying, don't run any of the below mentioned option for which command completed with error/abort or security feature is not supported on the device.

This command is available even if hard disk is locked.

SET USER PASSWORD
Once you get the 'Security Supported' in the device information then you can use this option to enable the security and set the user password. After completion of this command, user password will be set in the hard disk and security will be enabled. Once you give hard reset or restart your machine, your hard disk will be locked.
Rules of password:
Length of password can be maximum 32 characters.
Only use alpha-numeric(a-zA-Z0-9) characters only for password.
In this utility, rest of the characters of password is appended with space. Means if you set password as 'thisismypassword' (length 16), rest of the 16 characters of password are 'space'. This is to ensure that no garbage data will be set as password. When you unlock the device, you don't need to append 'space' after password. Utility will automatically append 'space' in your password, while unlocking also.

This command will not be available once hard disk is locked. It will be completed with error, until hard disk is unlocked.

SET MASTER PASSWORD
Once you get the 'Security Supported' in the device information then you can use this option to set the master password. After completion of this command, master password will be set in the hard disk but security will NOT be enabled. Only setting user password only enables the security. That means if you only set the master password and do not set the user password, and then give hard reset or restart your machine, your hard disk will be still unlocked. But, master password is set. Later on this master password can be used to unlock the hard disk, when disk will be locked.

Since 'maximum' security level is risky, this utility only sets the security level as 'high', and never set it to 'maximum'. Please read information about 'ATA security' in previous blog for more details about security level.

This command will not be available once hard disk is locked. It will be completed with error, until hard disk is unlocked.

UNLOCK USING USER PASSWORD
Once hard disk is locked, you can select this option and provide user password which you set previously, to unlock the hard disk. After successfully completion of this command unlocks the hard disk.

This command is available even if hard disk is locked. It must be enabled otherwise how do you unlock.

UNLOCK USING MASTER PASSWORD
Once hard disk is locked, you can select this option and provide master password which you set previously, to unlock the hard disk. After successfully completion of this command unlocks the hard disk.

This command is available even if hard disk is locked. It must be enabled otherwise how do you unlock.

DISABLE SECURITY USING USER PASSWORD
Once your 'SET USER PASSWORD' command completes successfully, security will be enabled in your hard disk. You can check 'SECURITY STATUS' command after that. It will show that security is enabled. Upto this point security is enabled but device is not locked (will be locked at hard reset or next power on). But at this point if you want you can disable the security using this command. If this command completes successfully security will get disabled and device will not be locked until 'SET USER PASSWORD' command is run again.

This command is not available when hard disk is locked. It will be completed with error.

DISABLE SECURITY USING MASTER PASSWORD
Same as 'DISABLE SECURITY USING USER PASSWORD', but in this case you will disable security using master password instead of user password.

This command is not available when hard disk is locked. It will be completed with error.

SECURITY STATUS
This command gives information about current security status. It prints whether security enabled or not, security level is high or maximum, security is locked or not, security is freezed or not, security count is expired or not (five wrong attempt of either 'user' or 'master' password cause security count to expire. You need to give hard reset to hard disk to again enter the correct password) and Enhanced security erase is supported or not.

This command will run even if hard disk is locked.

READ SECTORS
This command is also disable in this utility because it might create memory allocation issue while reading large no. of sectors.

WRITE SECTORS
This command is disabled in this utility for possible misuse of this option. This option can be used to create boot sector viruses.

QUIT
Using this command, you can come out of utility anytime.

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