This utility is free but requires you to be able to make a bootable disk or USB. I’ll go through the utility and post instructions with a video.
Offline NT Password & Registry Editor
This one has been around for awhile as it will work on versions of Windows all the way back to NT. It currently supports Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 for reset and also has a registry editor with utilities for other things. It works by booting from a CD that you create on another system or create before you forget your login!
In testing I had some issues in changing a lost Windows 7 password, but I was able to clear the users Windows password every time. I would recommend clearing the password instead of trying to change it on Windows 7 at least. That way on reboot Windows 7 will just login as that user and you can then set a new password through the windows user interface by selecting CTRL-ALT-DEL and then change password.
I created a video where I reset the Windows 7 password using this tool but it is a little hard to see because I was using a virtual machine. Ill do a quick walk through on how to use it.
- Create a bootable CD from http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/
- Boot from the Bootable CD
- First we select the disk where the windows system partition resides. In the case of this demo it is the number 2 dislk, you can see the disks listed in the output. I’m going to enter 2 and hit Enter
- The next choice is to select the PATH to the windows system directory and registry. The program will find what it thinks is the correct path and put it in for default. Unless you know for sure this isn’t correct just hit Enter to accept the found path.
- Next you will choose what part of the registry you want to work with, in this case we are going to go with “Password Reset” which is the SAM. For this we select 1 and hit Enter
- Now you will select “Edit User Data and Passwords” by typing 1 and Enter
- Finally! We now see a list of the users on this machine and whether they are an ADMIN or not. Type in the user name you want to reset, in this case it is WS Training and hit Enter
- You will now see all the information about this account that is in the SAM. You have a few options here like including:
Clear User Password – Always works for me
Edit User Password – I have had iffy success with this
Promote User – Makes them an administrator account
Unlock & Enable User Account – In case you have locked out or disabled the account
In this instance I am going to choose 1 for “Clear User Password” and hit Enter
- You should see the message Password Cleared! and then it will ask if there is another user to reset. If your done with recovery at this point then enter ! and hit Enter to quit.
- Now you have to work your way out of the program just the way you came in. Hit q to quit out and hit Enter
- The program now lists the files that have changed and if it should make the changes permanent. It is important to note that at this point you have been working with a copy of the account data and once you complete this step it will be saved to disk permanently. Click Y and Enter
- You should see a ***Edit Complete*** message to show that the password reset has been saved and then you can choose to run the program again or exit by hitting Enter.
Now you can restart your machine and let it boot into the OS. You should be able to go straight to your desktop for the user that you removed the security for! Congratulations on recovering your Windows 7 password and not having to reinstall your OS and lose your data. You can now set your password again by hitting CTRL-ALT-DEL and choosing Change Password. In your old password just leave it blank, and fill in your new password in the two text spots, then click OK.