Reset Windows Administrator Password for Windows XP

Follow these steps to change, reset or recover a Windows Administrator Password in just several minutes.

You may own an old PC that you’ve not used for a while and you may have forgotten the Administrator password. Or, like my friend below, you may have inherited an old computer and you need to use Administrator functions and you’ve never known the Administrator password so you need to hack it to get access to Administrator tools and utilities.

Note that if you use this method to change the Administrator password, any previous administrator would no longer be able to log in with their old password because you’ve changed it.

The method I describe is used to change an unknown Administrator password to something you know – or this method can elevate any windows user to administrator permission level.

My Friend Jim S. wrote: “I recently obtained some cast-off PCs. One that I checked, running XP, has 4 previous users and the administrator. Of course, I can only get on as “Guest” The hard drive does contain several programs which I would find useful. So a wipe and reinstall isn’t exactly what I’m looking for. I wondered if you might know a way to get administrator access.”

Instructions

Summary: Windows Nt/2k/XP/Vista
Operating Systems: Windows Nt/2k/XP/Vista
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 10 minutes to make boot disk. 10 minutes to follow screen prompts.

Things you’ll Need

  • A writable CD, or a USB flash drive, or a Floppy disk (Depending on your computer)
  • A disk writing program can write an .ISO file to one of the above (such as Nero)


Part A: CREATE then BOOT FROM the “Change Password” CD (or Floppy or USB)

It’s probably easiest if you create a bootable CD or Floppy disk. However, some newer computers support booting from a USB flash drive.

Step 1 Download the “Offline NT Password & Registry Editor” bootdisk zip file
Step 2
Unzip the downloaded .ZIP file to create an “.ISO” file on your hard drive
Step 3
Burn a bootable CD: Use a CD burning program, such as “Nero,” to write (burn) the .ISO file to a bootable CD, USB flash drive or floppy disk. Be sure to use the burn program’s option to make the target disk bootable.
Step 4
Set your BIOS BOOT Order. Your computer’s BIOS menu allows you to set the order in which your computer tries to “boot,” or start up. For this program to work, you must set your computer boot order to the CD (or USB or Floppy) before the hard drive then save the bios settings. For example, the key to access your computer’s BIOS could be [F1] or [F2] or [Del] . Press the appropriate key to access your computer’s BIOS when powering on your computer. Note:


Part B: RUN the “Change Password” program

Tip: You must run this program from a bootable CD, USB drive or floppy as described in Part A. Part of the reason that this program can reset the Windows administrator password is because it boots your computer in a non-windows operating system, Linux, then it allows you to use the Linux boot to “Hack” the Windows Administrator password.

Step 1 STEP 1: Mount the drive.When you restart your computer You’ll see a black screen with a lot of moving plain text scrolling by. Many people freak out when they see text and words go by on the screen that they don’t understand. Don’t be alarmed…

Tip: I rarely read everything displayed on the screen. Read from the bottom up. See if you can understand the text displayed on the screen where the cursor is flashing. If you don’t completely understand, read from the bottom up until you do. Ignore the text that is confusing, and see if you can understand the task using the context of the text you do understand.The text will stop scrolling for a moment and “boot” will be displayed at the bottom of the screen. Press [Enter] or wait 60 seconds.
A few more seconds will pass while the program tries to “mount” (or connect to) your hard drive. Finally, this text will be displayed:
—> “0:0:0:0 [sub] Attached SCSI disk”If the text below is displayed, press ‘y’ then [Enter]—> “Press [Enter] Do you wish to force it> (y/n) [n] y”



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Step 2
Step 2 Select Path and Registry File location
Most Windows computers have the Path and Registry files located in Windows/system32/configIf your computer is typical, just press [Enter] when the dialog below appears…

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Step 3
Step 3: Password or Registry Edit. When the prompt below appears, type ‘1’ then press [Enter] to Edit User Passwords
Note in the second screen below that the Password Menu has a couple of useful options. The BEST approach would be to use the menu to ELEVATE some typical user to Administrator, then use the same method to clear that user’s password. You’ll probably want to try this approach FIRST, before changing the Administrator password because if you make a mistake, then the Administrator password is still untouched and intact.Not that the user names and administration level is displayed in table on the Main Interactive Menu.

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Try option 3, “Promote user (make user an administrator)” before “hacking” the Windows Administrator account. Because if you make a mistake, you’ll likely still have other accounts to work with and the main administrator account will still be untouched. If you feel completely confident, you can select the Administrator account and select 1 to clear the Administrator password.




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Step 4
Step 4: Quit the Interactive Menu. Save Changes. Quit The ProgramPress the exclamation point, then [Enter] to quit the Edit Password menu.Then press “q” to quit the Main Interactive Menu, as shown below. You will be asked “if there is something to save”.

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Step 5 Step 6: Remove the CD and Reboot your computer
After completing step 4, remove the bootable CD and restart your computer.
When Windows restarts, you should be able to access the Windows Administrator functions through the Windows account you altered.

Done

Resources

Photo Credit

Photos by Chuck Eglinton

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