Windows passwords are a necessary evil. They help protect our systems, but they can also be a real pain in the neck. Employees leave, IT workers quit, IT consultants fail to properly document deployments. Regardless of the cause, you’re left with a locked account and perhaps a locked system.

In this IT Dojo video, I demonstrate how to quickly and easily reset local account passwords, including Administrator, on most Windows systems. The Offline NT Password and Registry Editor is a Linux-based utility that can reset passwords on Windows-NT based systems that use NTFS, including Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista. The tool creates a boot environment through which you can reset passwords via a series of text menus. The Offline NT Password and Registry Editor isn’t the most polished utility, but it is effective.

Cracker tool?

Before anyone starts flaming me in this post’s discussion for sharing “Cracker advice”, let me make the following point. It is possible for unscrupulous individuals to bypass security measures with tools such as this. But, there are also plenty of legitimate, work-related reasons to reset a Windows password. The Offline NT Password and Registry Editor is just another tool in the IT professional’s arsenal.

Use the tool at your own risk!

There are also risks associated with using this tool. As it is editing the Windows registry, the Offline NT Password and Registry Editor could easily render a system unbootable and even destroy existing data. This is especially true of accounts that use the Encrypting File System (EFS).

For more information on using this tool, read Erik Eckel’s article, “Reset lost Windows passwords with Offline Registry Editor.” From the article page, you can print Mark’s review, save it to your TechRepublic Workspace, e-mail it to a friend or colleague, and even Digg it.

For more password and security advice, check out the following TechRepublic Resources: