• Locked out of your refurbished computer?

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    #2589333

    ON SECURITY By Susan Bradley Corporate “leftovers” may impact your new computer. All of us want to purchase a good deal. Often I will look for refurbi
    [See the full post at: Locked out of your refurbished computer?]

    Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

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    • #2589342

      Does this mean every Windows installation calls home to check if the hardware is registered with Autopilot?

      • #2589399

        I’ve done a lot of refurbs (hundreds?  a thousand or more?) , and my sources for equipment must do a better job than the previous owners Susan talks about.  I have never had a problem setting up Windows with a local account on systems I have sold.  So my slightly educated guess is that AutoPilot calling home to the Microsoft borg ship is not an automatic part of a Windows 10 or 11 installation.  But I remain uncertain as to what would trigger it.  As one might imagine, that all may change, as Microsoft and its major Windows OEMs conspire to make older PCs as unusable as possible.

        I have also wiped BitLockered drives absolutely clean, i.e. appearing to be unformatted like a new drive, with no ill effects, either me or the computer.

         

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    • #2589417

      Back in March, 2023, we took delivery of two refurbished HP – ProBook 14″ Laptops with Intel Core i5 processors, 8GB Memory, and Solid State Drives.

      They came with a one-year warranties.

      They were sold by Best Buy and refurbished by Joy Systems a “Microsoft authorized refurbisher.”

      The PCs were delivered with only Windows 10 Pro – no other apps.

      Setup went smoothly – including updating Windows and HP drivers.

      We also installed old copies of Microsoft Office Home and Business, a VPN, and virus software on the machines.

      Unfortunately, the PCs do not meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 11.

      Both PCs continue to serve us well.

      If we were in the market again, we would be sure to purchase machines that are Windows 11 comparable.

      The AskWoody Refurbished HP ProBook discussion can be found at https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/refurbished-hp-probook/

      • #2590062

        I thought that our refurbished ProBooks came with one-year warranties. Not so.

        By going to the Joy Systems (the refurbisher’s) web site we found that they only stand behind their laptop PCs for 90 days.

        We now have two HP ProBooks – one with a dead battery and one whose battery does not fully charge.

        What appeared to be a good deal at first has turned out to be a disappointment.

        • #2590088

          Just received word from Joy Systems that they will replace the batteries

          • #2590618

            Just installed one of the two replacement batteries Joy Systems shipped in support of their refurbished ProBooks.

            On startup of the ProBook I received the following message.

            “Enable Battery Safety Mode

            Your battery is subject to a Battery Safety Recall.  In order to continue to safely use your notebook PC, please Accept the Battery Safety Mode. Battery safety mode will discharge your battery and disable future charging so you can continue to safely use your notebook PC using your HP Power adapter. Once your internal battery is replaced by a service technician, the battery can resume typical operation.

            Certain HP Battery Diagnostics may not be able to provide reliable results while the notebook PC is in Battery Safety Mode. This is expected behavior.

            Please visit the HP Recall website at: http://www.hp.com/go/battery program2018 to learn more and to order your replacement battery.

            *If you DECLINE the Battery Safety Mode, your battery will continue to be at risk to overheating posing a fire or burn hazard until it is replaced, or until Battery Safety Mode is accepted.”

            We will see how Joy Systems handles this problem.

             

    • #2589470

      I gather that Windows checks for this during OOBE setup. What happens if you just don’t connect to the Internet until OOBE is complete? Does Windows still keep checking, or does this “It’s not your computer, it’s ours!” bit stop once Windows setup is complete?

    • #2589460

       

      I purchased an ebay off lease Dell Optiplex 5070 micro from a reseller in the Seattle area, this was my first discovery of Windows/Dell autopilot. The seller offered to accept the return and refund my purchase however I opted to keep it and experiment.

      If you knew where it came from (the seller either didn’t know or wouldn’t disclose it) doing an install of Windows 10 Pro 22h2 on a new,blank ssd I got to the Teradata/Azure join. Seeming it came from Washington state I guessed it was an off lease PC from Boeing, I entered a random user name with a @boeing.com domain name – I got a general error message, and from this point on it allowed me to create a local login. I have not tried joining it to another customer’s Azure instance.

      Also what I found is installing the original “first” build of Windows 10 the “GWX” release, it bypasses (or perhaps better stated unaware of the API’s or function calls) needed for the computer to “phone home” to the ex-owner’s enterprise Azure instance, and installation at least with a local user account works as expected. The catch to this is you have to install the feature updates. I tried going straight from GWX to 22h2, I don’t recall this worked, I had to bump it to Win10 1909 then 22h2, and during both feature updates did it ever attempt this corporate join thing.

      Now I know to ask the seller if it has Windows Autopilot (or Computrace) enabled, if they don’t know or if they won’t disclose the Dell Service Tag then I’m out. The build manifest is available at the Dell support website if you got the exact service tag.

      Computrace has a sorted history, once enabled by the original owners, if they don’t do their due diligence and decommission the desktop or laptop there’s no way to turn it off, unless you scrap the motherboard. Same with Teradata/Autopilot. Until Dell comes up with a way to disable these orphaned enterprise Azure domain joins it’s sadly just e-waste of a motherboard (and possibly its processor if it’s soldered to the board).

      The first pic is the screen I got with this Dell desktop, if you try entering credentials from another valid instance of an Azure (in this case other than Boeing.com) you get the 2nd “something went wrong” screenshot.

      The third screenshot is the Windows Autopilot, go to http://www.dell.com/support, enter the product key and click the link “View Product Specs” The p/n is 634-BRWG

       

    • #2589516

      I have purchase a number of re-furbished laptops since the Win10 era, but never a Win11 PC.  Most have been Lenovo or Dell business-class off-lease machines, primarily for their durability and ability to replace/upgrade components or batteries.  Generally my process for personal utilization is to upgrade the RAM and add a new SSD for whatever OS I want to use or try.

       

      So my main question is the phone home hardware-initiated or is it part of the OS boot process and OS-intitiated?   If the latter a brand new SSD should solve this issue.  If hardcoated into the hardware of the motherboard, that could be very problematic and I would definitely return the machine to the seller.

      • #2589529

        “This is an ecosystem-wide issue as key components of a motherboard are used to identify a device in the Microsoft cloud”

        It’s tied to the motherboard.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady/Prudent patcher

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    • #2589543

      I have been looking at askwoody for about 8 years to keep my win7 very alive, very smooth and fast. My first venture into win10 was with my brothers ‘abandoned’, company-locked Lenovo AIO PC.  I am not techy at all, so I internet searched and finally did a complete ‘factory restore/reset’ using the MS built-in tools. Did the offline set up as found through askwoody, so no MS account needed. Everything went smoothly. It took many hours to reload all the updates. I have been using only occasionally to keep updates current, and for Zoom, for about 4 years with very few issues. Since then I have purchased 2 or 3 refurb Lenovo PC’s and have had no issue setting them up for myself and others, all without MS accounts. Running just fine. Thank you askwoody folks!

    • #2589598

      Apple computers have something very similar, but it’s nearly impossible to get it unlocked. It’s becoming a big problem with generating a lot of otherwise perfectly usable e-waste.

    • #2589809

      Using a different OS like Linux and/or running VMs rather than Windows on bare metal would get around it I guess but not something I’ve hit myself as yet.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2589852

      Using a different OS like Linux and/or running VMs rather than Windows on bare metal would get around it I guess but not something I’ve hit myself as yet.

      That was a question I was also wondering about.  All except one of my refurb purchases have become Linux laptops.  To me not an issue on desktops as my last self-built machine was configured with a new-hardware Linux gaming install in mind.

    • #2590690

      Joy Systems shipped

      So Joy Systems shipped HP recalled batteries.

    • #2590725

      Alex5723

      Yes, it appears that Joy Systems shipped HP recalled batteries.

    • #2601364

      I also had the Intune/Autopilot lock-out problem with a refurbished HP laptop. Susan was correct when she said that contacting the IT department of the former corporate user/owner of the pc would likely get you nowhere. After beating my brain to mush trying to circumvent the problem, I finally stumbled upon the solution of doing an off-line installation as mentioned in previous replies. Here is the link to the method that worked for me: https://www.minitool.com/news/windows-11-setup-without-internet.html
      This method was so much easier that trying to contact Microsoft, prove valid ownership, and get a release from Intune/Autopilot.

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