Computer Passwords

passwordComputer passwords are used to help identify and distinguish users and their access or capabilities on a computer or computer network. Passwords can also help restrict and prevent users from accessing confidential data or accessing programs they should not have access to.

Password rules and suggestions
Most commonly used passwords
Password rules

Password rules and suggestions

When creating a password, create the password using the below rules, making the password more secure.

  • Do not use a password that you have used in the past.
  • Try to change the password at least every 3-6 months.
  • Create a password that is at least six characters long.
  • Create a password with both digits and letters.
  • Do not create a password with a family name or family pet.
  • Do not create a password that is your phone number, house number, apt number, etc.
  • Create a password that is not in a dictionary.
  • Create passwords with spaces in them (if allowed).

Most commonly used passwords

Some examples of some of the most commonly used passwords are listed below. If you're using any of the below passwords we highly recommend you change it immediately.

  • no password (pressing enter)
  • admin
  • password, password1, PASSWORD, or p@ssword
  • 123, 1234, 12345, or 123456
  • 111111 or 000000
  • root
  • god
  • letmein
  • love
  • monkey
  • pass
  • sex
  • secret
  • money
  • asdf
  • qwerty
  • passme
  • welcome

As well as these common passwords as mentioned above users also commonly use family and pets names such as charlie, thomas, or fluffy, sports teams or sports players names, phone numbers or parts of a phone number, and social security numbers or parts of a social security number.  Finally, if you're using common names and just adding a number after it, e.g. charlie1, this too should not be used.

Password rules

System administrators

If you run a network of computers or are in charge of computer security, try using the below rules to help secure your network and computers.

  • Require that passwords be changed every 3 months (90 days). Almost all network operating systems have features that prompt users to change password once the specified time is up.
  • Set a minimum password length. Most network operating systems support the ability to set a minimum password length.
  • Setup password history, if available. If the network operating system supports password history enable it to prevent the same password from being used.
  • Enable account lockout threshold. This option disables an account after so many failed login attempts. Usually three attempts with a duration of 60 minutes is sufficient.

Below is a listing of good examples of passwords:

  • IAmThe1
  • 2Bornot2B!
  • 1PaSsWoRd1
  • My1PASSword
  • Pa$$word
  • (epoH)

As illustrated in the above examples, you can see passwords and famous quotes with numbers, passwords with numbers or special characters, or words backwards such as epoh = hope.

Determining and changing passwords

Determining the password type
Creating a computer password
Changing a computer password
Clearing and removing a computer password

Determining the password type

Before a password can be changed, cleared, or removed you must determine the what type of password is being used.

  • Does the password appear as the computer is booting? If yes, this is a BIOS or CMOS password. BIOS or CMOS passwords will not allow the computer to be boot at all unless the password is known.
  • Does the password appear after the computer is done booting and before the operating system runs? If yes, this is a network, Operating System, or third-party password.
  • Windows users, does the password appear in Windows before the desktop? If yes, this is a Windows or Windows network password. If you are able to press the Escape key and get to Windows, you have a standard Windows password; however, if this does not bypass the password prompt, it is likely you have a Windows network password.

Creating a computer password

Creating a BIOS or CMOS password

The BIOS or CMOS password is one of the more secure methods of password protecting a computer as the computer will not be able to be used unless the password is known. To create a BIOS or CMOS password, enter your computer's CMOS setup and enter a system password.

Screen saver password

To create an operating system password

To create a password in a third-party program

Several third-party programs are available to password protect your computer. Once one of these programs has been installed, a user should be prompted to enter and enable a password on the computer.

Changing a computer password

If you have not already, ensure that you have read determining the password type before following the steps below on changing a computer password.

To change a BIOS or CMOS password

In order for a BIOS or CMOS password to be changed or cleared you must know the password. If you have forgotten the BIOS or CMOS password, refer to clearing or removing a computer password section.

If the password is known, to change the password requires that you enter the CMOS Setup. In the CMOS setup locate the password section and enter, change or remove the password. If you do not want the computer to have a password prompt, in CMOS, enter the original password and press the Enter key for the new password.

To change an operating system or Network password

Windows 95 or 98 Standard password:

This information applies to Windows 95 or 98 users who are not connected to a network but have a password prompt when the computer boots. If you are connected to a network, see the next section Windows 95 and 98 Network password.

Click Start, Run, and type command.
Once at the prompt type:

cd\windows <press enter>
dir *.pwl <press enter>

after dir *.pwl is typed a listing of accounts used to log onto the computer should be listed. Locate the pwl you want to change and type:

ren name.pwl name.pwb <press enter>*

*Replace name with the name of the pwl you want to rename.

Once completed, reboot the computer; the next time the computer boots enter a new password and then Windows will prompt you to confirm the new password.

Windows 95 or 98 Network password:

If your computer logs onto a Computer Network and you are running Windows 95 or 98, changing the password may vary depending upon the network.

If the network is a Windows NT network, the password can be changed if expired, if the password has already expired, or to change the password click Start, Settings, Control Panel, and double-click Passwords.

If this option is not available or does not allow you to change the password, you need to contact the Network administrator for additional help on changing the password.

Windows NT, 2000 Standard, Network password:

To change your Windows NT, 2000, or XP password press CTRL + ALT + DEL to open the Windows security window. In this window there is a button to change the password. Typing in your old password along with the new password allows you to change the password.

If this option is not available or does not allow you to change the password, you need to contact the Network administrator for additional help on changing the password.

Unix Users and Majority of Unix variants:

Once logged into Unix at the shell type:

passwd <press enter>

If available, you are prompted to enter the Current password, prompted to enter the New password and then to confirm the password just entered.

To change a third-party password protection program password.

Because of the wide variety of third-party programs capable of password protecting your computer, it is recommended you contact the company responsible for supporting your third-party password protection program.

Clearing or removing a computer password

If you have not already, ensure that you have read determining the password type before following the steps below on clearing or removing the correct password.

Clearing or removing a BIOS or CMOS password

If you know the current BIOS or CMOS password and want to remove that password, enter the computer CMOS Setup and enter a new password. The prompt should ask you for the current password and then to enter a new password. For the new password press the enter key on the keyboard.

Clearing or removing an operating system password

Clearing or removing a network password

Because networks will require an identification to allow or provoke you from access to files and programs, a network password can only be changed and not cleared or removed.

To change a third-party password protection program password

Because of the wide variety of third-party programs capable of password protecting the computer, it is recommended you contact the manufacturer of the program used to protect the computer for information on how to clear or remove the password.

If you are unaware of what program is being used to protect the data on the computer it is recommended that the hard drive be erased and then the operating system be reinstalled.

Additional information

  • See our password definition for additional information and related links and information.