Level: for experienced or advanced users
Recently, we had to fix one of the faulty computers at the office, but couldn’t access the desktop area because the user had forgotten the local administrator password. The computer runs on Windows 7 OS. Normally, Windows password can be recovered using a Password Reset Disk. This works only if you created the disk beforehand. We never did that, so this option was obviously out of consideration.
We had some few hours of brainstorming and reading several articles online until we discovered a way to reset the Windows password without formatting the system or using a Password Reset Disk.
Here are the few simple steps.
Reboot your system to Command Prompt.
You can do this by booting the computer from Windows Installation Disk or Windows System Repair Disk. If you are using a Windows 7 Installation Disk, press Shift F10 when you get to any of these Windows Install screens below:
For Windows System Repair Disk, select Command Prompt when you get to the screen below:
Know the drive letter or partition of your local disk containing your Windows installation. It's normally C: In the Command Prompt area, it might chance to letter D:, since you booted using an installation or a repair disk.
This is where basic DOS skill comes in handy. You can check which drive letter links the partition containing Windows by doing a directory. Try the following.
Anyone with the “Windows” folder in the directory list is the drive containing your Windows installation. Let’s assume it is drive letter C:
copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\
copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe
Eject the Installation or Repair disk and reboot your computer.
Let your computer boot up to the Login Screen. Next, press the Shift key five times. The Command Prompt interface will pop up. This is possible because of sethc.exe you replaced with cmd.exe.
net user existing_username new_password
Where existing_username is the username of your already existing User Account and your_new_password is the new password you want to change it to. For example, if the username is nelson and you want the new password to be Bluetooth1 , type:
net user nelson Bluetooth1
Remember to make your password strong – alphanumeric with at least one uppercase letter.
Exit the Command Prompt box and log in with your username
and new password.
Though not necessary, you may want to copy the original sethc.exe back to c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe.
To do this, boot up to Command Prompt with an Installation or a Repair disk, and type:
copy c:\sethc.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe
You won’t experience any problems should you decide not to copy back the sethc.exe file.
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