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How to reset or Change a Forgotten Administrator Password in Windows XP & Vista (and Win 7) With a Boot Disk

Updated on April 17, 2012

Introduction

A forgotten administrator password in Windows is never a pleasant thought. There are ways to recover this password built into Windows, but they are not very convenient. Some say that doing a System Restore to a point before you changed it works, while others suggest using the Windows Password Recovery Disk.

I personally have had no luck with the first method. And the second method is dependant on making the Password recovery Disk BEFORE you forget the password. Most people, including myself, never make these disks.

The goal here is to reset the built in administrator account password from 'outside' of Windows. This is better known as an 'Offline Password Reset'.

<UPDATE> THESE INSTRUCTIONS HAVE NOW BEEN TESTED WORKING ON WINDOWS 7

The Tools

To get this job done, you will need a tool called a Offline NT Password & Registry Editor. Basically, you boot from a CD or floppy disk with this tool and reset your Windows Password without ever loading Windows. It looks a little scarey, but it's not too bad once you get a good look at it. Here is a link to the site that has this tool:

http://home.eunet.no/pnordahl/ntpasswd/bootdisk.html

Using the Password Reset CD

These instructions are written assuming a Bootable CD is being used, but are essentially the same for a bootable floppy disk.

1 - Download the ISO file from the site above and use your favorite burning software to create the CD.

2 - Make sure your computer is set tto boot from CD

3 - Boot from the CD. Most drivers will automatically load, but there is a manual selection option.

4 - Select the disk that contains your Windows installation when prompted. The defaults are usually correct.

5 - Select the path to your Windows registry data. Again, the default is usually correct.

6 - Select which parts of registry to load. For this section choose 'Edit user data and passwords'

7 - Select the user who's data you want to edit. The local administrator account is selected by default. Just press 'Enter'.

8 - Type an asterisk (*) to blank the password. This works better than setting a new password for some reason.

9 - Type an exclaimation (!) to quit after the password has been blanked.

10 - You will be asked if there is something to be saved. Type 'Y' for Yes.

11 - Now it will ask to wright back to the registry. Select Yes again.

12 - Reboot and you should now be able to logon with no password for the administrator account.

***Sometimes these steps need to be done twice to be effective***

Conclusion

This method of resetting a forgotten password is the most effective that I know of and works in almost any situation. A word of caution however; if you are running EFS (Encrypted File System), you will need to remember the original administrator password to access any files that were encrypted under that password.

This tool will also work with Windows Vista.

Thanks for reading, and GOOD LUCK!!!

Comments

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    • eric2112 profile image
      Author

      Eric Hartman 5 years ago from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

      @locas - Thanks for the comment locus. I appreciate your feedback. I haven't tried the Windows Password Rescuer Pro myself to be honest. The solution I have outlined above is completely free and open source since it is based entirely on Linux. Aside from not having a fancy UI, the tool is extremely effective and provides an easy way to get back into your system after a forgotten password situation. Most of the default menu selections are correct and there is really no need to be computer savvy to understand this. It looks a bit intimidating at first since it is all command line/text based but the menus are clearly defined. I keep a bootable copy of this on a small USB flash drive in my toolkit at all times.

      Thanks again for reading!!!

    • profile image

      locas 5 years ago

      This tool is really good.

      If you want to save more time and get a easy way.

      Maybe some commercial software will be your choice.

      In additional,some people actually don't konw some complex computer operations.So some easily to use software is need.

      Such as Windows Password Rescuer,Windows Password unlocker etc.

      I have used Windows Password Rescuer Professional edition(http://www.daossoft.com) and I think the tool is convinient though cost me some money.

    • Jacy757 profile image

      Jacy757 6 years ago

      Nice Post...

    • profile image

      WestVes 8 years ago

      Thanks a lot.

    • comp4ever profile image

      comp4ever 8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Very informative. I liked it, good luck!

    • eric2112 profile image
      Author

      Eric Hartman 8 years ago from Greensburg, Pennsylvania

      Thank you for your question Saliah!! I have now tested this method with Windows 7 and am happy to announce that it does work. I appreciate your time in bringing this to my attention and have emailed you with more details on this test. Thanks again!!!

    • profile image

      Saliah 8 years ago

      i have forgotten my windows 7 user password and i havnt enabled admin account so i cant log into the system in any way

      does this method works also for win7? if not can you help me in another method applies for win7

      please help

      thanks alot