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How To Retrieve Windows XP Administrator Password

Updated on October 22, 2011

You are a network administrator in a small business environment where there's no domain controller or Active Directory in place -- and one of your users (or managing director!) comes running to you one morning asking you to ‘do something immediately' as he has forgotten his Windows XP administrator password and can't log on anymore!

Your job and reputation are at stake - what would you do? One option is to simply refuse the request saying this is a no-way-out situation which can be solved only through re-installing Windows. But you are provided with an option of giving a positive answer through this guide.

Forgetting Windows XP administrator password can be a big nag especially if there's some important data held up in the system which is required on short notice. While there are no definitive guides on how to retrieve or re-set Windows XP administrator password, there are techniques and third party tools available that claim to put you back in control of your system. But before attempting a solution like this, make sure all other arenas are exhausted - perhaps there's another admin user, or try re-starting the system in Safe Mode and login without a password, i.e. the default admin of Windows XP. In the end, if all other measures fail, here's what you can count on: a Linux based free bootable CD that lets you recover from the loss of Windows XP admin password.

Download the bootable disk's image, an ISO file from here. Burn the image on a new CD and set the computer BIOS to boot with CD drive as first boot device. This is more than just a password resetting utility. Since it's a bootable disk, you land outside the installed OS and get complete offline working environment which is not dependent on Windows, and then NTFS and FAT32 file systems can be read as well.

Second, it offers to either change the password to a new one or removing it - for all the users, not just admin ones. Third, it allows unblocking of existing blocked accounts - so if there's a blocked admin already present, one can simply enable it. And lastly, it has got an ‘almost fully functional registry editor' too.

After booting from the CD, the instructions are provided on-screen and are self explanatory. Initially, the hard disk device drivers are to be loaded, once this is done, path of Windows installation folder has to be provided. This is how the programme gets the list of current users. A list of users along with their hex IDs is shown. Select the one that need to be changed, and select password resetting option. Use asterisk to specify a blank password. Press ‘yes' at confirmation prompt. Exit from the operations menu and select the option to write changes to the disk. Once this is done, remove the CD and re-boot the system and don't forget to change the password when back in Windows. Note that num-pad of keyboard might not work in some cases with this Linux CD.

How it works and what can go wrong?

The utility works by accessing the part of registry that is not accessible in normal operation environment - and that's why it is presented as bootable CD. The registry it reads resides at system32\config under Windows directory that contains SAM - Security Account Manager data. This data is susceptible to LM hash weakness, and the tool attempts at altering the registry responsible for managing user authentication.

Doing something that's not standard has its pitfalls nevertheless. The developers warn that at times, there might be some errors like in case when the system was not shutdown properly. In this case, user must re-boot the system and let the disk-check activity complete its work before attempting password re-set.

Secondly, the methodology of updating the registry may not work if user has provided a custom password because its exact jumbled-up form has to be put in exact place, that's why it is recommended to set the new password as blank password instead of re-setting it to a new one.

Another thing to keep in mind is the availability of encrypted files and folders - these won't be retrieved after applying this fix. This happens because in an encrypted file system, the actual password is used as part of encryption algorithm and that is now not accessible to the OS. The utility can be used for standalone PCs only, not for Active Directory passwords, and all the laptops are not supported either.

Countering this mechanism

If for some reason, you believe this mechanism can be a security threat, simply remove the CD/USB from the list of bootable devices and password-protect the BIOS.

Comments

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    • Randyrtet profile image

      Randyrtet 

      6 years ago from USA

      A few days ago, I had met the headache things that I had forgotten Windows login password.

      The login screen rejected my passwords.

      I was frustrated because there was very important data on my disk and I couldn't reinstall the OS.

      ...

      However, I fortunately got to know the Windows Password Recovery Tool 3.0,

      which is a professional Windows password recovery tool for us

      to reset Windows 7 password instantly yet no data loss.

      Hope it Can Help U, good luck!

    • profile image

      Dmparekh 

      6 years ago

      yes it's good

      but

      i need some faster acces than it

    • profile image

      sathyaraj 

      6 years ago

      if you forgot password use this one also:press ctrl+shift+del in two times

    • profile image

      prakhyath 

      6 years ago

      Hi All,

      I have a server at my workplace whose admin/user pwd has been expired...it is saying "unable to log you on because your account has been locked out please contact your administrator" ..But the thing is I do not have any idea about admin account...I tried to login as administgrator with a blank pwd..It didn't work...

      I want to reset the user/admin pwd to resolve this issue...How do I do it? You can send your valuable comments...

    • profile image

      DefiledMoose 

      6 years ago

      Just hit ctrl+alt+del at login page.....When a pop up box appears,type in administrator(lower case)(no password needed) You can then add a temp account as admin,change settings and passwords and then reinstate original settings....gl

    • profile image

      Sammy R 

      6 years ago

      This nags for real i fall a victim of unsuccessful password attemps.now my comp reads system halted! Must power down. and it doesn't allow me to go back to administrator user to key in the password again. How should i get to logon people

    • profile image

      pravesh 

      6 years ago

      Good Suggestion!!!

    • sharewhatuknow profile image

      sharewhatuknow 

      7 years ago from Western Washington

      Hi Hassam. Your article is very informative and gave me some more know how on computers and OS, etc... I will definitely refer to you again or refer others to you if this experience is encountered.

      And I have to say Hassam, the picture you posted for your article made me laugh so hard. That picture speaks a million words for anyone who has ever used a computer...

    • profile image

      irfan kareem 

      7 years ago

      my computer administrator is blocked and i m using another user how can i break that password????

      send tips on my e mail........./????

    • profile image

      Tara 

      7 years ago

      i have forgot my windows XP Password. I can only log in for Boot up. How to remove password from my Windows XP machine???

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 

      7 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      This comment section has more information than any article I have read so far. Good hub, and good comments!

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      there are no definitive guides on how to retrieve or re-set Windows XP administrator password, there are techniques and third party tools available that claim to put you back in control of your system. But before attempting a solution like this, make sure all other arenas are exhausted - perhaps there's another admin user, or try re-starting the system in Safe Mode and login without a password, i.e. the default admin of Windows XP.

    • profile image

      nbbatt.com 

      8 years ago from bear, de, 19701

      Wow, It works. Thanks

    • profile image

      susan 

      8 years ago

      I know a Windows password recovery which can easily reset Windows passwords, including Windows administrator password and user passwords, get it to manage your passwords. You can search WINDOWSPASSWORDSRECOVERY in yahoo and download a software from the website list at the first.

    • profile image

      rcmz 

      8 years ago

      Hi,maybe this can help you :

      http://password-genius.com/

    • profile image

      Segun 

      8 years ago

      This is a good technical information, tested and confirmed good, Jeremy has finished it up with Ophcrack. Thank you all

    • profile image

       

      8 years ago

      nice imformation...ll give it a try

    • profile image

      edelic 

      8 years ago from shenzhen

      I had also faced the same problem, I think the best way for you have to reset your computer password.

      May I ask you a question? Your computer installed WIN7 or XP?

      I succeed in reseting my Windows 7 Password using Windows Password Unlocker Tools

      Solve all your problem within a few minutes. Importantly,No need to call a technician, no need to re-install anything, and you certainly don't need to reformat.

    • frankonline profile image

      frankonline 

      8 years ago from Colombo, Sri Lanka

      hey, cool information. i also have a hub on same problem. thank u if u can link into it! thanks hassam.

    • profile image

      Susan 

      8 years ago

      Well in this case there are many round about ways to possibly reset login password, all fraught with peril... I would suggest that you download & burn yourself a Password "Recovery" disk. You may have to use a friends PC to do this. You can get a Password Reset disc download and burn to CD. Copy/paste the address below, into your address bar of your browser.

      Download this file and burn it to CD. Put into drive and turn on PC, and boot from the CD. Follow instructions, choose the correct USER. & BLANK the password. make sure you say OK to write the data, and reboot. The windows logon password will now be reset blank.

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      This is complete technical information, and thanks for mentioning it here on hub. You can take help from some software tools which are free to download on internet or costing some amount of money. But if you don't confident with this method then software is best solution for you.

    • profile image

      jc 

      8 years ago

      Worked like a charm... Thanks for posting this!

    • profile image

      Mark Hoppe 

      8 years ago

      Take the battery out of the mother board that resets password.

    • KMST profile image

      KMST 

      8 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      I am really not sure about what and how to do that. Better if the article had some screenshots if possible or any step-by-step procedure.

    • profile image

      Jeremy 

      8 years ago

      >>>Another thing to keep in mind is the availability of encrypted files and folders - these won't be retrieved after applying this fix.>>>

      For many scenarios this is a good fix. Let's take this one step further. What if you need to recover an encrypted file? You'd better not change the password! Instead use this tool-Ophcrack. ophcrack.sourceforge.net Ophcrack will decrypt the Windows password and display it to you. It is very efficient. For the average pwerson who probably uses less than eight characters in their password I have seen Ophcrack complete the decryption in less than 5 minutes. Of course as the number of character in the password goes up so does the time it takes to crack a password. It is up to you to decide what is appropriate for your environment. Change the password or crack it. I generally choose the latter.

    • profile image

      Eduard 

      8 years ago

      thenx

      you are great

    • profile image

      kelechi 

      8 years ago

      Well, about to try this stuff. Everyone is happy with the solution. Sounds nice to me, but pray it turns out nice!

    • bombermanneo profile image

      bombermanneo 

      8 years ago

      If you are not a computer technician, or not familiar with computer system operations, you may feel the above methods are scary and still can’t figure out what I am saying. Then you may try to use the software programs which may suit you. I would like to introduce Windows Password Recovery Tool 3.0 . it not only supports XP, 2000, and NT, I have personally tested it with Vista Home Premium and Ultimate. It works perfectly to reset any local user account to a blank password.

    • samironwebtrack profile image

      samironwebtrack 

      9 years ago

      very interesting information thanks.

    • profile image

      Alex 

      9 years ago

      It saved my day . We have a computer with local Admin login that manages our Building Access Entry system and no one knows the password to it ....This helped to get back to the system....Thanks Mate ...

    • profile image

      manish 

      9 years ago

      thnks man

    • profile image

      Rita 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for providing me such a usefull technical information. Now i will solve my problem.

      RITA PIT

      Cash Online Get Easy cash at your door step

    • profile image

      dj 

      9 years ago

      thanks to this man! great help

    • stormskeep profile image

      stormskeep 

      9 years ago

      Good to know! lolz

    • profile image

      english-blinds-uk 

      9 years ago

      Excellent advice, i wish i'd known that a while back when i had exactly that problem!

    • profile image

      madhu 

      9 years ago

      I will have to check this out. I have had to reset a couple of passwords before, but used a different method than listed.

      Really a superb article. This is what I was looking from some time.

    • profile image

      pris 

      9 years ago

      your ideas are rocking yaar..lemme check it out wheter its working or not....

    • profile image

      Emily 

      9 years ago

      Awesome advice! *smacks head stupidly* Why didn't I think of that??!!

    • brad4l profile image

      brad4l 

      9 years ago from USA

      I will have to check this out. I have had to reset a couple of passwords before, but used a different method than listed.

    • profile image

      Alok 

      10 years ago

      Really a superb article. This is what I was looking from some time.

    • betherickson profile image

      betherickson 

      10 years ago from Minnesota

      This is good information. I always use a computer everyday but I have no idea about techy stuffs but as I'm reading this further I'm starting to get the picture. You have explained it well. Good job. :)

    • John Cash profile image

      John Cash 

      10 years ago from United Kingdom of Manchester

      Excellent! I was expecting some kind of CMD goings on...

    • omarabid profile image

      omarabid 

      10 years ago from sfax

      Good information, thanks friend!

    • grumpyjacksa profile image

      grumpyjacksa 

      10 years ago from south africa

      definitely have 2 keep this

      thanx

    • hassam profile imageAUTHOR

      hassam 

      10 years ago from Pakistan

      Yeah sure that's the best advice....lolz

    • sheryl c profile image

      sheryl c 

      10 years ago from canton ohio

      Or simpley write it down and put it in a safe place Sherylc

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