Automatically generate and assign strong passwords in Windows XP

In order to keep your system secure, it's important to regularly change passwords. If you're having trouble coming up with a strong password, Windows XP can generate one for you. Greg Shultz shows you how.

Computer users consistently use very simplistic logic when creating passwords. For example, many of us choose meaningful words, personal dates, or a word commonly found in the dictionary because it makes the password easy to remember. These common practices cause us to sacrifice the security that passwords are intended to provide.

If you're really at a loss when it comes to thinking of a strong password, you can let Windows XP create and assign a random password to your account. To let Windows XP generate your password, follow these steps. (Warning: Before you follow these steps, please be sure that you are paying careful attention and are ready to actually use a password that might not be as memorable as you're accustomed to! Also, you cannot use this tip on a Windows Server domain.)

  1. Open a Command Prompt window and type:
    net user username /random (username is your login account name)
  2. Press [Enter]. Windows XP will randomly generate a secure password, as well as assign that strong password to your account. Windows XP will also display the strong password so you can remember it.

At your discretion, you may want to create a Password Reset Disk at this point. This disk will allow you to gain access to your computer in the event you forget your password. Here's how to create the disk:

  1. Open the Control Panel and double-click the User Accounts tool.
  2. Click your account icon.
  3. Select Prevent A Forgotten Password under Related Tasks.
  4. Follow the instructions provided by the wizard.
Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional systems in either a standalone or peer-to-peer workgroup configuration.

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