Microsoft

Help recover lost Admin passwords by downloading this preformatted handout

This FastAnswer handout will help you recover lost Admin passwords.

Save time. Download the preformatted, ready-to-print version of this FastAnswer handout. The next time the problem arises in your organization, simply print and distribute the file directly to end users or members of your IT staff.

The problem

The Administrator password for a Windows server or Windows 2000/XP-based workstation is unknown, and without it, you cannot make changes to the system.

The cause

A password is used to secure the Windows Administrator account, which has complete control over the operating system.


Provide your feedback on this download

This is one of TechRepublic's new FastAnswer handouts. The PDF download aims to save you time by eliminating the need to repeatedly research common questions and provide you with a preformatted, step-by-step solution you can pass directly to users or staff. Please send your comments and any recommended revisions to Erik Eckel.


The solution

Depending on your situation, you can choose one of these six methods to solve the problem:

  • Log in to the system with the user ID and password of an account with Administrator rights and change the Administrator password.
  • Log in as a user with a known password and try to trick a service that has system-level access, such as the Spooler Service in Windows NT 4.0, into running system utilities to change the password.
  • Use a password-recovery utility such as LC4 (formerly LOphtCrack) to crack the original Administrator password.
  • Use a utility such as ERD Commander to boot the Windows machine from a set of floppy disks, and then reset the Administrator password.
  • Remove the hard drive of the system with the lost password and make it the data drive of another system for which you do know the Administrator password, then change the password.
  • Reinstall Windows on the workstation or server, but make sure you select Upgrade rather than a new installation. Also be sure not to format or delete any partitions on the system.

Future prevention

You can help prevent this problem from occurring again by following these steps:

  1. If you're using Windows XP, create a Password Recovery Disk.
  2. Document and store Administrator passwords in a secure location.
  3. Create passwords that are complicated enough for potential hackers not to be able to guess, but simple enough for trusted members of your IT staff to remember.
  4. Create a secured personal account on workstations with Administrator rights that you can use as a backdoor.

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