Lost or forgotten Windows password

9:39:00 PM |


Question

Lost or forgotten Windows password.

Answer

Disclaimer: Gaining access to an account or computer that is not yours without permission by using any of the below steps is against the law. This document was created for users who've forgot their own computers Windows password. Additional legal information and policy information can be found on our legal page.
There are various utilities that enable a user to gain access to a computer they have forgotten the password to, below is a listing of some of the more popular utilities available.


Log into an alternate account
Often many users will leave the administrator account alone or have other accounts with administrator rights. If you're not logging into the computer as administrator or have other accounts follow the below steps to reset your other accounts password.
  1. Reboot the computer into Safe Mode.
  2. When logging into Safe Mode you should be prompted with an option to what account you wish to use. Select the Administrator account. If prompted for a password try pressing Enter on the keyboard for no password. If this does not work, try other passwords you may have used. If you're unable to log into the Administrator account skip to the next suggestion.
  3. Once you've logged into the Administrator account open Control Panel and User Accounts.
  4. In User Accounts select the account you wish to change the password for, click change password and then enter the new password or click remove the password to remove the password from the account.
Windows XP users and Prevent a forgotten password option
If you have Windows XP (or above) and have gone through the "prevent a forgotten password option" and have created a diskette, use the diskette created to recover the forgotten password.

Offline NT Password & Registry editor
The offline NT password & registry editor is a great utility that enables users to overwrite their Windows NT, 2000, and XP SAM file, the file containing their passwords, with a new password. This will not allow a user to view their previous password, however, it will allow the user to gain access to their unencrypted files again.
This utility is free and can be found on the below link.

Emergency Boot CD
In addition to several other features, the EMCD, or Emergency Boot CD, is capable of changing the passwords of any user, including the administrator password in Windows NT, 2000, and XP without needing to know the previous password.
This utility is free and can be found on the below link.

Other utilities
There are numerous other free and commercial utilities available for bypassing or changing an unknown password in Microsoft Windows NT, 2000, and XP. The above two utilities are the more popular solutions and are highly recommended. If these utilities do not suit your needs, you may also want to perform a quick search on your favorite search engine.

Data recovery
If you have tried the above suggestions and are unable to gain access to the files you need to access, some data recovery companies may be able to access your data. 

Format and reinstall Windows on the computer
Finally, if after the above steps you are still unable to gain access to your computer, or if you are unable to use any of the above utilities, unfortunately, your only alternative to getting access to your computer would be to erase everything on the computer and reinstall Windows. Any data you need access to will need to be restored from your backups.