2010. november 19., péntek

Getting the BIOS serial number


Different BIOS manufacturers have placed the serial numbers and other BIOS information in different memory locations, so the code you can usually find in the net to get this information might work with some machines but not with others...


For a simple copy-protection scheme we need to know whether the machine that is executing our application is the one where it was installed. We can save the machine data in the Windows Registry when the application is installed or executed for the first time, and then every time the application gets executed we compare the machine data with the one we saved to see if they are the same or not.

But, what machine data should we use and how do we get it? In a past issue we showed how to get the volume serial number of a logical disk drive, but normally this is not satisfying for a software developer since this number can be changed.

A better solution could be using the BIOS serial number. BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System and basically is a chip on the motherboard of the PC that contains the initialization program of the PC (everything until the load of the boot sector of the hard disk or other boot device) and some basic device-access routines. Unfortunately, different BIOS manufacturers have placed the serial numbers and other BIOS information in different memory locations, so the code you can usually find in the net to get this information might work with some machines but not with others. However, most (if not all) BIOS manufacturers have placed the information somewhere in the last 8 Kb of the first Mb of memory, i.e. in the address space from $000FE000 to $000FFFFF. Assuming that "s" is a string variable, the following code would store these 8 Kb in it:

SetString(s, PChar(Ptr($FE000)), $2000); // $2000 = 8196

We can take the last 64 Kb to be sure we are not missing anything:

SetString(s, PChar(Ptr($F0000)), $10000); // $10000 = 65536

The problem is that it's ill-advised to store "large volumes" of data in the Windows Registry. It would be better if we could restrict to 256 bytes or less using some hashing/checksum technique. For example we can use the SHA1 unit (and optionally the Base64 unit) introduced in the issue #17 of the Pascal Newsletter:


The code could look like the following:

uses SHA1, Base64;

function GetHashedBiosInfo: string;
  SHA1Context: TSHA1Context;
  SHA1Digest: TSHA1Digest;
  // Get the BIOS data
  SetString(Result, PChar(Ptr($F0000)), $10000);
  // Hash the string
  SHA1Update(SHA1Context, PChar(Result), Length(Result));
  SHA1Final(SHA1Context, SHA1Digest);
  SetString(Result, PChar(@SHA1Digest), sizeof(SHA1Digest));
  // Return the hash string encoded in printable characters
  Result := B64Encode(Result);

This way we get a short string that we can save in the Windows Registry without any problems.

The full source code example corresponding to this article is available for download:


The full source code example of this article is available for download:



If we wanted to display the BIOS information we should parse the bytes to extract all null-terminated strings with ASCII printable characters at least 8-characters length, as it is done in the following function:

function GetBiosInfoAsText: string;
  p, q: pchar;
  q := nil;
  p := PChar(Ptr($FE000));
    if q <> nil then
      if not (p^ in [#10, #13, #32..#126, #169, #184]) then
        if (p^ = #0) and (p - q >= 8) then
          Result := Result + TrimRight(string(q)) + #13#10;
        q := nil;
    else if p^ in [#33..#126, #169, #184] then
      q := p;
  until p > PChar(Ptr($FFFFF));
  Result := TrimRight(Result);

Then we can use the return value for example to display it in a memo:

procedure TForm1.FormCreate(Sender: TObject);
  Memo1.Lines.Text := GetBiosInfoAsText;

Component Download: http://www.latiumsoftware.com/download/p0020.zip

Copyright (c) 2001 Ernesto De Spirito
Visit: http://www.latiumsoftware.com/delphi-newsletter.php

Maarten de Haan:

Because the writer peeks into low mem, this probably will not work on all NT-like platforms. (WinNT, Win2000 and WinXP). On these platforms it is forbidden for an application to read / write outsite the space reserved and given to the application. If you do so, NTDLL.DLL will catch the reading / writing instruction and issue an error. It is also not possible to directly read or write to ports (like COM / LPT) under these operating systems.

It is very difficult to write a LPT- or COM-portdriver, which works on NT-like platforms. I have found some literature about it, in case you are interested:


In order to communicate with ports under NT they all make use of a small program (*.sys) which is called by the main (Delphi) IO-program. This *.sys driver is not written in Delphi but in asm.

I have never seen a working method to read the BIOS date under NT-like platforms. But it can be done, I'm sure! The program: "Sandra" does it. See: http://www.sisoftware.co.uk/index.php?dir=&location=sware_dl&lang=en

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