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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.


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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.