Lost or forgotten Windows password

Disclaimer: Gaining access to an account or computer that is not yours without permission by using any of the steps below is against the law. This document was created for users who have forgot their own computer's Windows password.

Windows password log on

There are various options and 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 options and 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 are not logging into the computer as administrator or have other accounts, follow the steps below to reset your other account's 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 want 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 are unable to log into the Administrator account, skip to the next suggestion.
  3. Once you have logged into the Administrator account, open the Control Panel and User Accounts.
  4. In User Accounts, select the account you want to change, click change password, and then enter the new password or click remove the password to remove the password from the account.

Windows users and Creating a password reset disk

If you have Windows XP, use the "prevent a forgotten password" option to create a password reset diskette, use the diskette created to recover the forgotten password.

If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7, in the User Accounts utility (accessible in the Control Panel), select the "Create a password reset disk" option to create a password reset disk. You can then use the disk 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 SAM file, the file containing their passwords, with a new password. This will not allow a user to view their previous password, but allows the user to gain access to their unencrypted files again.

This utility is free and can be found on the link below.

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

Emergency Boot CD

In addition to other features, the EBCD, or Emergency Boot CD, is capable of changing the passwords of any user, including the administrator password, in Windows without needing to know the previous password.

This utility is free and can be found on the link below.

http://ebcd.pcministry.com/ 

Other utilities

There are numerous other free and commercial utilities available for bypassing or changing an unknown password in Microsoft Windows. 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 needs to be restored from your backups.