Hardware

Create a Vista password reset disk using a USB flash drive


If you were an early adopter of USB flash drives, you may still have a 128 MB or a 256 MB USB flash drive in the back of your desk drawer. Even though the dusty drive may seem too small to be of any real use, you can put it back to work as a password reset disk for Windows Vista.

In this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I'll show you how to create and use a password reset disk in Vista using a USB flash drive rather than a floppy disk.

The USB flash drive

First, let's take a moment to talk about the USB flash drive. The reason that I'm spotlighting your old small-capacity USB flash drive is that it is really too small to be of much use in today's world due to that fact that portable storage needs are now reaching more towards the GB range. However, that's not to say that you couldn't use a 1 GB USB flash drive for a password reset disk. Some might consider that to be a waste of disk space because the password reset file only weighs in at 2 KB, but flash drives are inexpensive -- you can pick up a 1 GB USB flash drive for under $20 or a 128 MB USB flash drive for under $5.

Creating a password reset disk

Follow these steps to create a password reset disk:

1. Insert your USB flash drive and wait for it to initialize and receive a drive letter.

2. Once the drive is ready to use, click the Start button and type User Accounts in the Start Search box.

3. Press [Enter] or click User Accounts in the Results panel. Either way, you'll see the User Accounts dialog box. You will need to locate and click Create A Password Reset Disk in the Tasks panel (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

When the User Accounts dialog box appears, click Create A Password Reset Disk in the Tasks panel.

4. When you see the Forgotten Password Wizard's Welcome screen, take a look at the information and click Next.

5. On the next screen, you'll receive a prompt to choose your USB flash drive's drive letter (Figure B). To continue, click Next.

Figure B

Figure B

Choose the drive letter assigned to your USB flash drive.
6. On the next screen, type your Currrent User Account Password (Figure C) and then click Next.

Figure C

Figure C

When prompted, type your current user account password and click Next.

7. You'll see a rapidly moving progress bar. Once it reaches 100 percent, click Next, and you will see the last screen in the Forgotten Password Wizard. To complete the operation, click Finish.

8. Click the Safely Remove Hardware icon, choose your USB flash drive's drive letter, and remove the drive when prompted to do so.

9. Label the drive and put it away in a safe place.

While you may be tempted to label the drive Password Reset, remember that anyone who happens upon this drive can use it to bypass your password and break into your computer. Try a label that will help you recognize the drive but that isn't so obvious.

Using a password reset disk

If you type an incorrect password in Vista, The User Name Or Password Is Incorrect error message will appear on the login screen (Figure D). Click OK.

Figure D

Figure D

At this point, the only thing you can do is click OK.

Follow these steps:

1. Return to the login screen, where you will reset your password below the Password box (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E

To launch the Password Reset Wizard, click the Reset Password message.

2. Insert your USB flash drive and wait for it to initialize and receive a drive letter.

3. To launch the Password Reset Wizard, click Reset Password.

4. When you see the Password Reset Wizard's Welcome screen, take a look at the information and click Next.

5. Choose your USB flash drive's drive letter (Figure F) on the next screen and click Next.

Figure F

Figure F

Choose the drive letter assigned to your USB flash drive.

6. The Password Reset Wizard will open the saved file, read your saved password, and perform a few operations in the background.

7. The wizard will then prompt you to create and confirm a new password. You'll also have to create a new password hint (Figure G).

Figure G

Figure G

Create a new password, confirm it, and create a new hint.

8. Clicking Next will take you to the Success screen. Click Finish to complete the operation.

You can now use the new password to log on to your Vista system.

Note: As soon as you use the Password Reset Wizard to change your password, the information in the password reset file on the USB flash drive will be outdated. Therefore, as soon as you log back into Vista, you should run the Forgotten Password Wizard again and create a new password reset file.

Will you try it?

Now that Vista supports a USB flash drive for the password reset disk, do you think that the password reset disk creation procedure will be easier? If you have used a password reset disk in Windows XP, what was your experience? Post your thoughts in this article's discussion.

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About

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.

30 comments
yansilogin
yansilogin

Windows Login Recovery is productive Windows password recovery software program made to recover Windows login passwords for almost any version of Windows, like Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2003, 2000, NT, 2008. It's not essential for you to reinstall the system any time you forgot or lost your Windows login password. But a blank CD/DVD or USB flash generate and an accessible home pc with optical push is needed earlier than starting up to conduct Windows Vista password recovery.

panli
panli

If you Forgot windows vista password and don't have a password reset disk, then this tips may help,I know a tool which can help reset lost or forgotten windows vista password in just seconds!, need not to reinstall the windows OS, its safely and easily.To do this, follow these steps: Step 1. Login to a computer that can link to Internet. Download windows Password recovery 6.0 from its official site, Burn the .ISO file to a CD or a USB flash drive. Step 2. Get out the newly created CD/USB and insert it to the locked computer. Step 3. re-booted the locked computer (it's necessary for you to change your computer's Setup to make it boot from CD drive or USB drive) and then followed the process of instructions. Just a few steps, the old password was removed. Step 4. Setting new password. Hope to help you!

jazzy12345
jazzy12345

error ? what do i do if it says "an error occurred while the wizard was attempting to set the password for this user account." ? i need help mann please help me

jazzy12345
jazzy12345

what if it didnt work cuz mines didnt

nicolemariee
nicolemariee

what do i do if it says "an error occurred while the wizard was attempting to set the password for this user account." ?

teckno94
teckno94

it all worked until i got to figure g when it says" An error occurred while the wizard was attempting to set the password for this user acount" plz help me what do i do????

Jerryjack
Jerryjack

Hi I have to ask you something

Anqueenette
Anqueenette

Do there have to be anything on the flash drive to reset the password

zaurinio
zaurinio

one of my laptop has windows 7 and another one vista.i forgot a password on win7 and i did usb password reset wizzard on vista laptop and then tried it with win7 but it doesnt work.it says AN ERROR OCCURED WHILE THE WIZARD WAS ATTEMPTING TO SET THE PASSWORD FOR THIS USER ACCOUNT.please help.

UlarLaut
UlarLaut

I did not provide any password for my logon accounts in my Win Vista SP1 and the Admin Accounts is disabled. But the Creating Process stop at the "Current Account Password" screen, it says that if I do not have password I can click "Next"; But when i do just that, nothing happens, it will not move to another step process. Anybody have any clue / idea ?

apete
apete

Go with reply #4 by holmescd. I have been using a version of that software since NT4. It worked on XP, it works on Vista, and to my surprise, it works on Windows7. It runs off a USB drive, resets ANY password account without knowing ANY passwords. I work in a University Lab and I set all PC's that students use as: ID=student, PWD=password, with administrator rights. I tell them to change the password on first boot. When they are done at the end of the semester, or when they leave the University, I use the USB stick to reset the password back to "password". Never have to know a password, never have to re-install anything. . . . simple.

Lenagius Ligien Landel
Lenagius Ligien Landel

I think it's really great, but i wish you could also start making a program that will crack any password in any computers using only a USB. Thanks again.

kareena08
kareena08

hmm.. but what if the letter of your USB flash drive is not on the list? As in the drive is J, and you can only select F, G, H, and I for creating the passowrd disc, and I have no idea what these are for

rashid_07
rashid_07

how can i follow your step if i can go inside in my vista because i don't remember the password... if there's another way where can i find and how?

kickme2009
kickme2009

ok if u made a password reset disk and one of the files had become corrupt and u wasn't able to make another reset disk because u were locked out of you're PC how would u make another disk on a system that wasn't running vista

toffee2love
toffee2love

i really enjoy the programme may God grease your elbow

jpbrierley
jpbrierley

I didn't create a password reset disk and i have now forgotten my password, my computer is on vista and the other computers in my workgroup are on XP, is there any way i can unlock my Vista PC using the XP computers or any other way so i can access my PC again

marty.troutner
marty.troutner

It works fine if I use a different USB flash drive.

Xwindowsjunkie
Xwindowsjunkie

In Figure F it looks like a typo got through the Microsoft QA guys. Rest for Reset? in the second line or is that a Photoshop eaten letter? I wouldn't have a whole lot of confidence if I saw that on my screen!

rflanagan
rflanagan

Would it be possible for me to have on one large drive multiple reset files as I have about 80 teachers who sometimes forget their password.

FXEF
FXEF

I have stand alone machines setup with one admin account and several regular user accounts. Is there options to create a reset password for each account on one flash drive?

j1tjr714
j1tjr714

I would like to know if this could be used on any Vista machine that has lost the password. As an IT professional it would be helpful to know this. I could use othe disks, but this would be a lot easier.

Shaunny Boy
Shaunny Boy

This may sound like a stupid question, but do you have to devote an entire volume for storing the reset files? Would it be possible to place this in a separate folder on the root, and use the rest for other stuff? I personally prefer flash cards over usb flash drives, and I have a 4gb one I'm hoping to incorporate all my essential files and needs, as well as on my external backup HDD.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Whoops! I had to create Figure F and must have mistyped... The real deal does indeed read Reset.

Cadillac84
Cadillac84

If you log in as Admin, can't you change any user's pw? So why would you need to store the pw reset info? Maybe I misunderstood you.

holmescd
holmescd

...the password reset file is per user, I think. Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure. For that purpose you're probably better off using the Offline NT Password and Registry Editor, available here: http://home.eunet.no/~pnordahl/ntpasswd/ But make sure you're using the latest version or it could trash Vista's registry!!

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

You can use a CompactFlash card if you wish. As to devoting the drive to storing the reset files, no, you don't have to. You could use the drive for other things, but it has risks. If you lose the drive, someone could use it to access your computer. The file could be accidentally deleted or damaged and you wouldn't know about it until you had a need for it. That's why I recommend using a small drive that really has no other viable uses and that you then stash that drive someplace safe.

FXEF
FXEF

The Admin can change any password, but if I remember correctly the Admin must provide the old password first. Someone please chime in and correct me if I'm wrong.

RalphPoochK9
RalphPoochK9

Try it with either the Windows logon screen or the classic logon screen. Admin's do not need to know passwords to change them in XP.