XP Pro account anomaly: password asked for on accounts with no password, et

By achristensenjohnson ·
Hello, everyone. I am running Windows XP Proffesional SP2 with one
password-protected user/administrator account and two
non-password-protected limited accounts. Windows boots up and runs normally,
but after logging out of an account, Windows will occassionally ask for
non-existant passwords on the two unprotected accounts and says the correct
password is wrong for the one account that has a password (although the hint is right). I looked in the
event log and didn't see any warnings or problems, and I haven't messed with
anything in the registry, and there are no signs of infection. I searched Microsoft's forums and newsgroups as
well as Google, but can't find anything similar to my question, and the
techs I have asked have never heard of this happening. It may be that I am
asking the wrong question, or perhaps I am not describing the problem well.
Can anyone point me in the right direction so I can discover a solution? I recently re-googled and found that someone had commented about my problem, but it was not useful, and I could not reply to clarify.
I'm concerned that this is a symptom of a greater problem and I want to
correct it myself, but am hoping to avoid a reinstallation. Thanks for your
attention, A. Johnson

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All Answers

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Create more IDs before you get locked out completely...

by OldER Mycroft In reply to XP Pro account anomaly: p ...

If there is a bit of rogue code causing this intermittent problem, if you don't create a few more profiles with admin rights, the system may eventually lock you out completely.

I'd then advise that you delete the two dodgy IDs and see how you go from there.

Post back if the problem persists after you've created the new IDs.

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Good Advice

by achristensenjohnson In reply to Create more IDs before yo ...

Thanks, Old Mycroft, that's good advice, and I'll let you know how it works out. If it is, as you suggest, a bit of rogue code, where should I look to find a patch, if that is possible? One other thing...if I decide to run the recovery disk I created, isn't there a possiblity that I'll just be reloading the problem? Just Wondering.

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You say this happens.....

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to XP Pro account anomaly: p ...

.... only occassionally and only after logging out of an account? Yuck!!! Most of us hate these random problems. How do you rectify the situation when it DOES happen? What happens if you hit the enter key to leave the password blank on the non-password-protected limited accounts? Does it EVER happen after you've shut the computer down or rebooted?

Random problems are the worst kind to track down, so you'll have to be our eyes and ears. What does your intuition tell you is going on? Did you recently install/uninstall something? Have you performed a full system scan for virus/keyloggers? When did the problem start? Can you lay your finger on any particular thing that happened just prior to the beginning of the problem?

This could also be a problem with the keyboard, the keyboard cord, keyboard connector or even keyboard bios on the motherboard. Is it a USB keyboard? Do you have another keyboard you can test with? Preferably, one with a PS2 connection if the one you're using is a USB or vice versa.


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Instability due to home network?

by achristensenjohnson In reply to You say this happens.....

Hello, thumbsup, and thanks for your reply. Yes, this is only every so often, and only when switching to or logging out of an account. If I hit enter, it acts as though I have entered the wrong password ("Did you forget your password?")and the only remedy is a reboot. A few have suggested spyware, but in my experience, the purpose of spyware is to track your behavior so they can sell you stuff, not to deny you access to your own system. That would be counter-productive to their needs. Besides, although I'm not yet a know-it-all, I have never, ever, seen an infected system behave this way. Is it reasonable to suspect the system is merely unstable, possibly due to file sharing between my computer and this one through a home network? Also, when I bought the system, although it is licenced for Vista Business, I expressly asked for an XP downgrade (my recovery disk is XP). I assumed I bought the Vista COA, but that XP Pro was the only OS installed at any time. I did, until recently, have an ATI Radeon x1650 Pro PCIE card installed, which began to fail, but I removed it and uninstalled the drivers and software, and seems unrelated. I hope this additional information helps, and thanks for your help!

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Don't be so certain it's not infected......

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to Instability due to home n ...

You said: "I have never, ever, seen an infected system behave this way"

I have. It is very common for a virus/spyware/malware/crapware/trojan (whatever you want to call it) to change user permissions and even passwords.

And, as you know, when the term "spyware" is used, it generally refers to programs which DO spy on you. So yes, it would be counter-productive for spyware to prevent you from logging in. But, the term can and does get used in this forum when referring to anything that modifies your system for it's own purposes. Often, we bump into newbies who don't understand the meaning of "malware", "crapware" or "trojans", so the term "spyware" is used as something they can understand. But, it is used in general terms meaning "you've got something that shouldn't be there, the nature of which is yet to be determined". The obvious question here is; Have you performed any full system scans while in Safe Mode and logged in as THE "Administrator" to look for virus, spyware, malware, crapware, trojan, rootkits and anything else out there that can be imagined? If so, what did you run and what did it find?

You also asked: Could this be related to your home network? Yes it can. Any time you have a network and there are non-password protected accounts, VERY strange things can happen. I would suggest you password protect ALL accounts.

And lastly, when you're trying to track down random problems, NOTHING can be considered "unrelated" until you can PROVE that it is unrelated. Don't discount anything until you've tested it.

So, assuming your system is clean after the Safe Mode scans, let's first try resetting the passwords on all of the accounts. This includes the accounts that are non-password protected. Log in as THE Administrator (that means you type the word "Administrator" into the login name) and go to the user accounts. Reset ALL passwords and write them down. For the non-password protected accounts, you should see different options than the password protected accounts. The non-password accounts should list ONLY the option to SET password. The password protected accounts should ONLY have two options; (1) change password and (2) delete password. If you see two options on an account that should be non-password protected, click the CHANGE and for the old password, leave it blank.

Let us know if this cures the problem.

<edited - ooops, forgot to run spellchecker>

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Hey achristensen!

by Tig2 In reply to Instability due to home n ...

Having an odd thought here- who is your manufacturer? I
ask because Toshiba has a known issue with their laptops
self creating a BIOS password and wondered if you were
experiencing something similar a la Windows.

The other thing is to ask you if you have been using a
registry cleaner. A reg clean may help in this situation, on
the other hand, it could also cause this kind of thing
depending on how aggressive it is.

Good luck!

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by achristensenjohnson In reply to Hey achristensen!

Hi, everyone. Yes, I logged in as the administrator in safe mode, deleted all prefetch files, all cookies, all history, all temps, and turned off the system restore, and I did this not just in the Administrator account, but all accounts, in and out of safe mode. I was very thorough in my scanning and removal, but I still found nothing. However, I seem to have it fixed. I reset my file sharing settings and have not had the problem again. It must have been something I missed when attempting to set up the home network. I appreciate all of your time and attention to this, and hope I can help one of you someday! Thnaks again!

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Isn't it wonderful......

by ThumbsUp2 In reply to Networking

.... when everything plays nice together? Just let one little portion of the overall scheme of things try to play with it's shoe laces untied and the whole thing comes unravelled! Re-tie the laces and you're back to GAME ON!!!

Glad you got it working.

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Thanks again

by achristensenjohnson In reply to Isn't it wonderful......

I have to tell you, this is probably the most useful forum I've seen in all of my "Googling." Thanks again for the support! A.

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Can duplicate the problem

by bamsenmisty In reply to XP Pro account anomaly: p ...

My apologies for reviving an old thread but I've an almost identical issue (I don't have issues with the Admin accounts being locked out). And I can duplicate it with little effort.

XP Pro machine with all patches has 2 password protected Administrator accounts and 1 limited user non-password protected account. The thought being, anyone can use the machine as a limited user, no password needed, just click on the account.

On all the accounts, there are Windows screensavers that point back to the login screen when activated. Theoretically, the limited user account should just have to click on the account name and be logged in again.

Nope. Windows demands a non-existent password. 2 ways to get into the limited account, reset the password from the Admin accounts OR simply reboot the computer.

Solution#1....stop using the screensaver. Not happy with that but it stops the problem.

Solution#2....Train users to lock workstation when done using it (have you ever been able to force a user to do what you want out of the kindness of their heart?). Ok, that works about 35% of the time.

The issue also happens when anytime a LockWorkStation command is sent regarding the limited user account. It would appear the problem is within the LockWorkStation coding as that would be used by the screensavers.

To replace the screensaver, I set up a scheduled task to lock the workstation (send it back to the Windows Login Screen) after it's been idle for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the limited user account again asks for a non-existent password. So that doesn't work.

Easiest solution is to put a password on the account but that doesn't really resolve the issue. I'm being stubborn and do not want to have to deal with passwords for these limited accounts because half the time I get someone who thinks they are clever and changes the password (did I mention that users should not be allowed to touch computers??).

The machine has been thoroughly checked for malware/viruses and other nasties using a wide variety of tools. It's clean. I've been able to duplicate on a couple of other machines. All machines have Fast-User Switching enabled which also seems to be a contributing factor.

Anyone have a bright idea how to stop this nonsense other than putting Linux on boxes or retiring?
Thx for your suggestions.

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