Years ago, you could reset a forgotten BIOS password by simply removing the CMOS battery from the motherboard for a few minutes. This worked because the memory that stored the password was volatile and required electricity to function. These days, computers such as the Dell Optiplex 320 don't require constant power to maintain the password. Fortunately, Dell included a feature on the Optiplex 320 that allows you to disable the password feature should you forget the password.
A computer's basic input/output system is the set of instructions the computer uses to get up and running. The BIOS provides the information the computer needs to use devices such as memory, drives and the operating system. Many BIOS settings can be customised to the user's preference and to improve the computer's performance. Since you can change these settings, most BIOS programs allow you to set a password. This password isn't designed to protect the computer, but rather to make it harder for other users to alter your BIOS settings.
Optiplex 320 BIOS Setup
To access any BIOS utility, you must enter the set-up program before the operating system begins to load. If you wait too long, you have to try again. Of course, if there is a BIOS password, the OS won't load until you enter the correct password. To enter the BIOS set-up on the Optiplex 320, press the "F2" key as soon as the Dell logo appears on the screen. Once in the set-up utility, you can view system information, configure such things as the boot order, tweak performance parameters and set-up system security.
Open the Optiplex 320
Prepare the computer by turning it off and disconnecting it from the power supply. Press the power button once more to ground the system. For the mini tower version of the 320, lay the computer on its left side as you face the front panel. Slide the cover release latch on the top-rear of the computer as you lift the top edge of the side cover and slide it off the computer. To open the desktop version, the procedure is the same. The only difference is that there's no need to lay the computer on its side and you'll be removing the top cover instead of the side cover.
Find the password jumper on the motherboard. It's a three-pin jumper marked "PSWD," located next to the CMOS coin cell battery. Remove the plastic connector and move it from pins one and two to pins two and three. This disables the password feature. Assemble the computer, connect the cables and devices and boot the computer. Once the computer fully boots, turn it off and reopen the case. Return the plastic connector the original pin one and pin two configuration on the jumper. Assemble the computer. The password feature is once again enabled, but you will need to enter the BIOS set-up utility to establish a new password.