Software

How to set up an additional security info source for your Microsoft account

If you forget your Microsoft Account password, you may have to wait 24 hours to get it reset. Here's a simple precaution you can take: Create a second security info source.

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Image: iStock/shironosov

If you have recently created a new Microsoft Account to sign into Windows 10, you know that you have to use a cell number to set up the account. Microsoft essentially uses your cell number to verify that you are a real person and not some sort of malware robot. Once you provide your cell number, Microsoft will send you a text message containing a code you can enter to complete your account setup procedure.

Unfortunately, you are not prompted to create an additional security info source, an alternate email account, and that can be a problem just waiting happen, as a friend of mine recently discovered. She created a Microsoft account using her cell number and then began using that account to sign into her Windows 10 system. She never gave it another thought.

At some point after she set up her Microsoft account, she got a new cell number. But by that time she had forgotten that she had used her old cell number to set up her Microsoft account.

SEE: How to set up two-factor authentication for your favorite platforms and services (free PDF)

Sometime after that, she forgot her Microsoft account password and couldn't sign into her Windows 10 laptop. When she went to use the Microsoft Account Password Reset service, she discovered that because she no longer had the cell number she used to set up her account (and because she didn't have an additional security info source), she would have to wait up to 24 hours to reset her password.

During the procedure, she was prompted to specify an alternate email account as an additional security info source and provide other information, such as birth date and mailing address to verify her identity. She then received a message like the one shown in Figure A. She had to wait the full 24 hours before she could reset her password.

Figure A

Figure A
Without an additional security info source, you may have to wait 24 hours to reset your Windows password.

Now, of course, you have to figure that Microsoft is doing all this to protect you from potential fraud. But having to wait that long to reset your Windows password would be enough to drive anyone straight back to using a Local account instead of a Microsoft account to sign into Windows 10.

Fortunately, you can avoid this scenario easily by setting up an additional security info source for your Microsoft account. That way, you'll be prepared in case you forget your password. Let's take a look.

SEE: Microsoft Universal Windows Platform Expert Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)

The procedure

Setting up an additional security info source for your Microsoft account is easy. To begin, point your browser to the Microsoft Account page, as shown in Figure B. Then, select Security on the menu bar.

Figure B

Figure B
Setting up an additional security info source for your Microsoft account is easy.

You'll then see the Security Basics page, shown in Figure C. In the Update Your Security Info panel, click Update Info.

Figure C

Figure C
Click Update Info to get started.

Next, you'll see the Security Settings page, shown in Figure D. My cell number is the only security info source associated with this test account.

Figure D

Figure D
Only one security info source is associated with this account.

To continue, click Add Security Info. Select the An Alternate Email Address option from the Verify My Identity With dropdown, as shown in Figure E. Now just enter another one of your email addresses, such as a Gmail account.

Figure E

Figure E
Select the An Alternate Email Address option.

When you click Next, a code will be sent to your alternate email address and you'll be prompted to access that email account, open the message containing the code, and enter the code in the dialog box shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Figure F
You'll need to enter the code Microsoft has sent to you.

After you click Next, you'll be returned to the Security Settings page and will see that your additional security info source is listed on the page, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

Figure G
This account now has two security info sources on the Security Settings page.

That's all there is to it. Now, you'll be prepared in the event that you forget your password.

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What's your take?

Do you have more than one security info source associated with the Microsoft account you use to sign into your Windows 10 system? If not, have you ever run into a password reset situation that required a 24-hour wait? Share your advice and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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