Hardware

Use a USB Flash Drive to create Windows Password Reset Disk in Windows 7

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, Greg Shultz shows you how to create and use a Password Reset Disk in Windows 7 using a USB Flash Drive rather than a CD or floppy disk.

Do you have an old 128MB or 256MB USB Flash Drive in the back of your desk drawer gathering dust? If so, you can put that dusty old drive to use again as a Password Reset Disk for Microsoft Windows 7.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to create and use a Password Reset Disk in Windows 7. As I do, I'll show you how to use a USB Flash Drive rather than a CD or floppy disk.

(Keep in mind that the same procedure can be used in Windows Vista.)

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

The USB Flash Disk

Before I show you how to create a Password Reset Disk, let's take a moment to talk about the USB Flash Drive. Now 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 in the GB range. However, since the Password Reset file weighs in at only 2KB, it is the perfect use for an old USB Flash Drive.

To get started, insert your USB Flash Drive and wait for it to be initialized and assigned a drive letter. If there is any data on it, you may want to remove it. Now to make sure that the disk is in the best shape that it can be, you should format it. Right-click on the drive letter in Computer and select the Format command. When you see the Format dialog box, as shown in Figure A, just click the Start button.

Figure A

You should format the USB Flash Drive before you use it as a Password Reset Disk.

Creating a Password Reset Disk

Creating a Password Reset Disk is a pretty straightforward procedure. Once the drive is ready to use, click the Start button and type User Accounts in the Start Search box. Then, press [Enter] or click User Accounts in the results panel. Either way, you'll see the User Accounts window and will need to locate and click Create a Password Reset Disk in the Tasks panel, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

When the User Accounts window appears, click Create a Password Reset Disk in the Tasks panel.
When you see the Forgotten Password Wizard's Welcome screen, take a look at the information and click Next. When you see the next screen, you'll be prompted to choose your USB Flash Drive's drive letter, as shown in Figure C. To continue, just click Next.

Figure C

Choose the drive letter assigned to your USB Flash Drive.
On the next screen, you'll be prompted to type your password, as shown in Figure D. Then, click Next.

Figure D

When prompted, you'll type in your password.

As soon as you do, you'll see a progress bar that will move rapidly along to 100 percent. You'll then click Next and will see the last screen in the Forgotten Password Wizard. To complete the operation, click Finish.

You should then click the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media icon, choose your USB Flash Drive's drive letter, and then, when prompted to do so, remove the drive. You should label the drive and put it away in a safe place.

Now, you may be tempted to label the drive "Password Reset." However, since anyone who happens upon this drive can use it to bypass your password and break in to your computer, I suggest a more subtle label -- something that will help you recognize the drive but that isn't so obvious.

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Using a Password Reset Disk

If you ever forget and type in an incorrect password, the login screen will change and an error message will appear like the one shown in Figure E. To continue, you will have to click OK.

Figure E

At this point, the only thing you can do is click OK.
You'll then return to the login screen and will see a message appear below the Password box, as shown in Figure F. At this point, you'll insert your USB Flash Drive and wait for it to be initialized and assigned a drive letter. Then, to launch the Password Reset Wizard, you'll click the Reset Password message.

Figure F

To launch the Password Reset Wizard, you'll click the Reset Password message.
When you see the Password Reset Wizard's Welcome screen, take a look at the information and click Next. In the next screen, you'll be prompted to choose your USB Flash Drive's drive letter, as shown in Figure G. To continue, just click Next.

Figure G

Choose the drive letter assigned to your USB Flash Drive.
Once you select the drive, the Password Reset Wizard will open the saved file, read your saved password, and perform a few operations in the background. The wizard will then prompt you to create a new password, confirm it, as well as create a new hint, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

You'll need to create a new password, confirm it, and create a new hint.

Once you've filled in the text boxes, click Next. You'll then see the success screen and will need to click Finish to complete the operation. You can now use the new password to log on to your Windows 7 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 in to Windows, you should run the Forgotten Password Wizard again and create a new password reset file.

What's your take?

Have you used a password reset disk in Windows before? What was your experience? Now that you can use a USB Flash Drive, do you think that the procedure will be easier?

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.

26 comments
Mahbub Rashid
Mahbub Rashid

What will I do if I forget my password and I haven't any password reset disk.

Mahbub Rashid
Mahbub Rashid

what will I do if I forget my password and I haven't create any password reset disk.

conodiablo
conodiablo

so how do i stop a USB log in from happening? My son figured this out and now I need to stop him. He spends 9 hours a day on my laptop while i'm at work and i cant take it because my daughter also needs it. Please let me know. 

kantionetter
kantionetter

I've recently watched a similar video and I've done every single step perfectly but at the end of entering my new password it says "An error occurred while the wizard was attempting to set the password for this user account" What do I do now???

Adword13
Adword13

Thanks for sharing this article~!

Vanerl
Vanerl

After I can't remember my HP Pavilion Windows 7 laptop login password, I know that the password reset disk can help us if we create it before we lost password. Also, we can create a new one one after password forgotten with pro software. So I got the latter disk: with Windows Password Recovery Tool Ultimate (http://cutin.de/IQm5) and a black USB disk to create a Windows 7 password reset disk and login pc again quickly! The video guided me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0Dhg-YLHxg 

bengdang
bengdang

I have not create a pasword reset disk. I have Windows 7 Home Premium. I lost my administrator password, only one administrator account.
I cannot find any button anywhere on the Welcome screen that I can click to 'reset password'.
I cannot do it from the (limited) other user on the computer.
I download an Application called Windows Password Key from http://t.co/x8otIyR14H.
Only 3 minutes, it helped me regained access to my locked Win 7 computer.

More info: http://www.lostwindowspassword.com/article/create-windows-password-reset-disk.html

yansilogin
yansilogin

I didn't have a password reset disk before. But I forgot my password last month and I use Windows Login recovery to create a password reset USB drive and recovered my password. Now I have kept it handy. You'd better to create one.

aj3jr
aj3jr

I've found this -> http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/ a small free Password reset tool. I installed it on my personal thumb drive and I can Blank a password, create an account, Raise an account to Administrator on ANY local account. Works on Windows 7 and XP, haven't tried Vista. Yes it requires a reboot and a bios that understands USB bootup media and NO it probably won't work on an encrypted drive. There is also Hiren's Boot disk.

pgit
pgit

I have a CD with a number of windows tools, including a password wiper. It doesn't reset, just wipes. I find a CD a better option than USB, at least for now. I deal with a lot of machines that can't boot from USB, but close to 100% of the hardware had a CD/DVD reader at minimum. I've set up reset disks for a couple people who specifically asked for one. I'm pretty sure they've never had to use 'em.

fiosdave
fiosdave

Click on the Windows orb and type "password reset disk" Click on the obvious entry and follow the directions to create either a password reset disk, or a USB thumb drive.

timbob2
timbob2

Great information. I have a desktop and laptop both running Win7 Pro and using the same password. Will this flash drive file work for both machines?

awgiedawgie
awgiedawgie

... of using a flash drive instead of a CD is that the flash drive is much easier to rewrite with the new reset information after it's been used.

kmd215
kmd215

I have used this on my personal laptop. It works well. I don't think this is a feasible solution for a networked inviornment.

eyesak
eyesak

Go WOT! - A dangerous link program like WOT is a good tool to have.

donaldgagnon1
donaldgagnon1

. . . unless you have lots of different systems you're logging on to daily or you rarely ever log-on, I find it kind of hard to imagine that you'd forget your most important password from one day to the next or even over the weekend.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I find that people "lose" their passwords right after changing them. Meaning they change their passwords to something new and complex that they then cannot remember. It would be more usefull if it could unlock the account regardless of password.

techrepublic
techrepublic

only works for local accounts - so if your computer happens to be a member of a domain - the option isn't visible.

Nsaf
Nsaf

"Create A Password Reset Disk" is not available in the "user accounts" task panel!!!

josephjdeluca
josephjdeluca

I have used the old style days of a back up disk & flash drive, never used any programs to recover passwords, both the old stye and flash drive are my best options and always used, but must say that the flash drive is easier...

d_macbeth
d_macbeth

I used an old Compact Flash card for the same purpose.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you have a Password Reset Disk handy for your Windows PCs?

Nsaf
Nsaf

Thanks..should've figured it out myself.