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Disabling CompuTrace

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#1
Greetings everyone,

I refurbish computers for a living. An office in my area upgraded their laptops and sent the old ones to a recycling center in my area. The recycling center plans to scrap them for metal, because they all have Computrace active. If I can disable the Computrace, they're willing to sell them to me for cheap. They gave me one of them to play with and try to disable it. If I can't, they're going to throw these otherwise perfectly good I5 laptops in the shredder.

They are all Dell Latitude E5430. The one I got had bios A11 on it, and I flashed it to A18 (non-vPro).

Direct link: https://downloads.dell.com/FOLDER04135952M/1/5430A18.exe

Computrace has 3 settings in the Bios - "Disabled", "Deactivated", and "Activated". "Deactivated" means it's ready to be set to "Disabled" or "Activated". Once set to one of those two, it can "never" be changed, and the setting in the Bios is grayed out. I want to change the setting from "Activated" to "Deactivated" so I can then go in and disable it.

I found a video of someone doing this on a different Dell (this is exactly what I'm trying to do):

What I've tried:
- I tried extracting the Bios from the "5430A18.exe" file using the /writehdrfile and /writeromfile flags, but got errors and it didn't work.
- I used "Universal BIOS Backup ToolKit 2.0" to try to backup my Bios to a file. I ended up with "DellInc.-A18.rom", which is 14MB. It is attached (zipped).
- I then used "UEFITool_0.22.4_win" to try to edit the Rom. I found 2 Computrace modules, and a lot a Computrace references in "SetupPrep". The modules were easy enough to remove, but wasn't sure if I should remove SetupPrep or leave it. I don't know enough to edit it. I decided to leave it.
- I got stuck when it came time to try to flash the Rom file back. Dell has no separate flash utility for Rom/Bin/HDR files; their Bios files are all EXE. I tried a few flashing programs, but they all said my Rom was an invalid file.

Can anyone please help me?
 
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#2
Can you call DELL? Since it's intended to trace theft of a laptop, I'm sure it's not easy to bypass or disable. It would render it pointless if it were. ... sorry not much help here.
 
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#3
I don't think Dell would help since they cannot verify you obtained these legitimately. It won't hurt to try, but don't hold your breath.

Personally, I don't see the problem and don't understand why the recycling center cares. Computrace (LoJack) is there to assist in recovery IF stolen and the owner reports it. If not reported, it should not matter.
 
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#4
Personally, I don't see the problem and don't understand why the recycling center cares. Computrace (LoJack) is there to assist in recovery IF stolen and the owner reports it. If not reported, it should not matter.
The original company probably paid a fee to dispose of them using a shredder. (probably to protect their intellectual property)
If the recycling company can disable Computrace, then they'll get more money off of each PC. Much more, most likely.
I hate to see good laptops shredded, but the original company is being screwed when it comes to protecting their old DATA.
 
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#5
The original company probably paid a fee to dispose of them using a shredder. (probably to protect their intellectual property)
If the recycling company can disable Computrace, then they'll get more money off of each PC.
I agree. So why should they care about Computrace? If the original company is concerned about intellectual property or other sensitive data, they should have removed the drives and properly wiped or destroyed them before giving them to the recycling center. At this point, we have no clue what data is left on the drives, if any.
but the original company is being screwed when it comes to protecting their old DATA.
Again, you don't know that. They may have already sanitized the drives.

Remember, Computrace is a BIOS feature.
 
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#6
These laptops have no HDDs, so that's not a concern. I used one of my spare drives and threw Win7 on it.
 

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#7
This sounds Illegal since there is no means of proving these weren't stolen as @Bill_Bright said.

This sounds like Samsung Knox, once tripped it can never be reset, it's like a fuse, probably locks the bios into write protected mode.
Keep on searching the net is the best solution. Good Luck. Your screen name doesn't help matters either.

/Thread
 
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#8
Thanks for the "/thread"; I appreciate that. :|

These are not stolen as they came from the original owners.

As for my name, it's just my gamer tag. I play a rogue in a MMORPG.
 
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#9
This sounds Illegal since there is no means of proving these weren't stolen as @Bill_Bright said.
What I said was Dell tech support cannot tell if stolen, unless the legitimate owner reported them as stolen. Therefore, I would not expect Dell tech support will help bypass this anti-theft feature.

Having dealt with several electronics recycling centers, I don't think they would accept them if they thought they were stolen. They are not shady pawn shops. There's just not that much money in shredding hardware to make the risk of "receiving stolen property" worthwhile.
 
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#10
These are not stolen as they came from the original owners.
I'm not going to preach morality or question if the transaction is legit, but it appears Dell (or Lojack themselves) really did make the BIOS part of Computrace rather bulletproof.

There's a LONGGGGG thread on the topic here... http://www.freakyacres.com/remove_computrace_lojack I read about the first two pages. Maybe you can find something there.
 
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#11
Having dealt with several electronics recycling centers, I don't think they would accept them if they thought they were stolen. They are not shady pawn shops.
^^^ I agree completely with this. ^^^

But in this deal with the original owners, they are tasked (and trusted) with the PCs destruction.

But they ~may~ be looking for a safe way to move them through retail channels without any blowback. If so, it's not legal, but with
Computrace removed, it's viable.
I might be completely wrong about this, but it looks like a Duck and quacks like a Duck.
 
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#12
Viable, yes. But worthwhile? Those notebooks weren't much to write home about when new 4 - 6 (depending on specific model) years ago. They were good mobile workhorses they hold little value now.

If the original owners were looking to get some money for them, they would not have turned them over to the recycling center.

But in this deal with the original owners, they are tasked (and trusted) with the PCs destruction.
You don't know that! You are making assumptions again. We don't know if the recycling center was tasked to destroy these notebooks. All we can assume is they were "tasked (and trusted)" to "recycle" them - that is, to do what is necessary to minimize polluting the environment with hazardous waste. "Recycle" can also mean "refurbish, re-purpose and resell".
 
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#13
Recycle" can also mean "refurbish, re-purpose and resell"
Ok, I'll give you that one. I don't know enough about the situation tof say for sure. But I won't have anything to do with it from now on.
 
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#14
That's why we are in the same boat as Dell tech support. There is no way for us to verify even if the original company who turned them over to the recycling center obtained them legally.
 

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#15
Please help the OP or move along. Side discussion has no point here. W1zzard has said to allow this thread, and at no point in the OP did he ask for definitions or morality checks.
 
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