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windows-password-changeYou’ve lost control. All the accounts you can access on your Windows computer aren’t Administrator accounts, meaning you’re helpless to install software, update drivers or do any kind of administration whatsoever. You can’t even install games. The humanity!

Don’t panic. There are more than a few tools for recovering a lost Windows Administrator password, so we can get you back into power over your computer in no time. Some methods are legit, but required you to have thought ahead (unlikely). Others are legit but only work for Windows 8. Two more methods are sort of hacking, but perfectly legal to use on your own computer.

Do not, and I mean do not, use this to access computers that aren’t yours. Just don’t.

Note: Windows Vista, 7 and 8 Don’t Have Administrator Accounts

Okay, so before we jump in here, let’s sort one thing out: since Vista, there hasn’t been a system-wide “‘Administrator password”. In Windows XP there was, in addition to your regular accounts, an account called “Administrator”. The password for this account was set during setup and (almost always) immediately forgotten. Occasionally it was even left blank – which is even worse in many ways. Adding to the problem: many people used the Administrator account as their primary account, which was really bad idea from a security point of view – even more so if there was no password.

Realizing this, Microsoft stopped enabling the Administrator account by default starting with Windows Vista. So, in Windows Vista, 7 and 8 the “Administrator” password is basically the password for your primary account – or any account set up to act as an Administrator.

admin-account

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So if you’re trying, and failing, to log in as “Administrator” on your Vista, 7 or 8 computer, the problem isn’t that you’ve forgotten your password – it’s that no such account exists by default. Yes, you can enable a separate Administrator account with some work, but the methods for retrieving your password don’t change much if you’ve done so. For the most part, this article will show you how to get back any password you’ve forgotten – which should give you Administrator access once again.

Got it? Good. Let’s move on.

Recovering Windows 8 Online Accounts

Microsoft overhauled how user accounts work for Windows 8 How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 What's up with user accounts in Windows 8? It's not complicated - Microsoft wants everyone to use an online account to sign into their desktop operating system. Sure, they offer an offline equivalent, but they... Read More , and the main change was tying most accounts to a cloud service. There are pros and cons here for sure (check out the comments under the article on how Windows 8 user accounts were changed How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 How Microsoft Overhauled User Accounts In Windows 8 What's up with user accounts in Windows 8? It's not complicated - Microsoft wants everyone to use an online account to sign into their desktop operating system. Sure, they offer an offline equivalent, but they... Read More  for a primer), but there’s one real plus: online password recovery for Windows. If you forget your Windows password, you can recover it online.

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If you’ve forgotten the password for your online-enabled Windows account, you can click here to reset your Windows Live password. You’ll get an email, which you can open on any other account (or another computer altogether). You’ll be back in, quickly, assuming you’ve got an online account and the computer you’re attempting to use is online.

Create A Password Recovery Disk

This one requires some preparation, but if you’re prone to forget your passwords it might be worth it. You can create a password recovery disk. You’ll find the option to do so in the Control Panel, under User Accounts and Family Safety, or by searching in Windows 8:

Just follow the instructions, and be sure to store the disk somewhere secure – anyone with it can easily access your system.

Recovering Your Administrator Password With Ophcrack

If you’re not using Windows 8, and you didn’t have the foresight to create a recovery disk, there is another option. It’s a little complicated, and it might not necessarily work, but it’s worth a shot.

The tool I’m talking about is Ophcrack, which can hack most Windows passwords Ophcrack - A Password Hack Tool to Crack Almost Any Windows Password Ophcrack - A Password Hack Tool to Crack Almost Any Windows Password Read More . Download the Live CD for your system, then boot it (check out our Live CD manual if you’re not sure how).

Boot the CD and the software will get to work at cracking your passwords. It may take a while, especially if you’re using Vista or 7, but eventually you’ll see your passwords. Check out the Ophcrack FAQ if you run into problems, and note that it works much better for XP than systems that came after it.

Remove Windows Passwords Completely

Want to remove your password altogether? There’s another live CD for that: Offline NT Password And Registry Editor (clever name, right?) Also available as a live CD, this simple tool allows you to completely remove the password for any account on any system up to Windows 7. All you need to do after that is log in, but be sure to set a new password – you don’t want to leave your system insecure.

Note that, if you use this tool, you’ll lose any files you encrypted using Windows. There’s no way around that, sorry.

FAQ

It’s been hours and Ophcrack isn’t working! What should I do?

If you got the CD to boot, and it just can’t crack the password, odds are it was pretty secure (ie, long and varied). You might need to just remove the password with Offline NT Password And Registry Editor

How do I get my computer to boot from CD?

It varies from computer to computer, but generally you can change the boot order by entering “Setup”. On-screen instructions should show up when you first turn your computer on telling you how to enter “Setup”, so follow those. Failing that, Google “how to change boot order” followed by the make and model of your computer.

Oh, and make sure you burned the ISO correctly – simply copying the ISO file to the CD isn’t enough.

Wait, if it’s this easy to crack a Windows password why bother with passwords at all?

It’s not a bad question, and generally if someone has physical access to your computer they can get in given enough time. If you really need to secure your files it’s probably a good idea to look into TrueCrypt, but note that if you lose that password you’re simply screwed.

You’re a moron – I know a much better tool for this!

Thanks for being so tactful! I hope you’ll leave your better suggestions in the comments below, along with anything else you have to say. 

  1. Jenny Kaylan
    March 12, 2016 at 4:43 am

    So if you were using a Windows Live password on a Windows 8 computer in order to access that computer. Then the computer was stolen. You could change your log in to the computer directly online via Live. Is that correct?

    • Justin Pot
      March 12, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      That should work, yes, with the caveat that if your laptop isn't online changing it on Live won't change it on the computer. So this working would depend on your thief accessing Wifi somewhere.

  2. Amy
    January 29, 2016 at 8:15 pm
    • Susan
      February 6, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      Will this work for an administrator password???

  3. Arnas
    January 20, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    This is a solution for Windows 8 and 8.1

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXpyJCyeyuo

  4. Dan
    December 3, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Does anyone know how to reset the administrator password? I can get in my pc but I can't change anything because I need the AP

    • Justin Pot
      December 3, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      If the tips above don't work I'm not sure what else to try, sorry.

      • Dan
        December 3, 2015 at 9:13 pm

        Alright thanks. It's my father's computer and because he just recently passed away we're trying to restore it for our mother. It's a HP pavilion 20 all in one pc. It's a shame it's worthless now.

        • Justin Pot
          December 4, 2015 at 12:10 am

          You can still install a fresh copy of Windows on it, you'll set a new admin password and the computer will be good as new.

        • Dan
          December 4, 2015 at 12:33 am

          I'll still need to do this as administrator, so I'll still need the password ; right?

          The computer want let me make any changes without the AP as it is now but I'll try anyway.

          thanks

        • Dan
          December 4, 2015 at 12:48 am

          Nope, that didn't work either . I need the Admin Pass to make changes. The computer will upgrade to 10 for free so I was able to try but no luck

        • Justin Pot
          December 4, 2015 at 2:47 pm

          You shouldn't need the admin password to replace Windows, but you might need to do it from a USB drive:

          http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/make-bootable-usb-cd-dvd-install-windows-using-iso-file/

          Or, if your computer has a CD drive, that could also work (but most newer ones don't at this point).

      • Everley Perets
        December 7, 2015 at 6:59 am

        If you have no disk, you have to to burn a disk with USB or DVD, as for me, I used iSeePassword Windows password recoery tool to create a boot USB, then reset my password on windows 7.

        http://www.iseepassword.com/windows-password-recovery.html

        But it's not free, I've purchased it at $17, if you need, I can send you the register key to your email, pelase give me your email.

        • Angus Bruce
          December 12, 2015 at 2:09 pm

          Not sure if my other reply came through but if you could email me the register key that would be great.

          email: fishdish123@gmail.com

  5. Todd Perry
    August 25, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Useless article for Windows 8 and above.

    • Todd Perry
      August 25, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      Using Ophcrack I mean

    • Justin Pot
      August 25, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      Yeah as I wrote in the article if you're using Windows 8 Ophcrack won't work.

  6. David Jack
    June 30, 2015 at 6:32 am

    It is a common phenomenon for all Windows users. I am agree with the advice above. All you need is a Windows administrator password key to help you recover it.

    • Justin Pot
      June 30, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      Yeah, having that key can help a lot for sure.

  7. zarux
    March 29, 2015 at 4:55 am

    neither any oph worked nor other softwares .. i am using pin to access my account but i want to acess from my password which i forgot .so could u tell me way to completely change my poassword

    • Justin Pot
      March 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      If these methods don't work, you're past there point where I can help sadly. Sorry!

  8. Julie Lane
    February 26, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Is there a cost for this program? And if so what is the cost?

    • Justin Pot
      February 26, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Ophcrack is free, Julie.

  9. Des Farthing
    December 26, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Thanks guys Windows 8 laptop in danger of being hurled through a (real) window... Password successfully reset and the laptop is safe (for now).

    • shen
      February 7, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Hi, Hope you can help me how to retrieved my administrator password? Now im currently using the other user account which is my childrens access to my lappy. The prob now is that i cant down load any software, copy some files coz it is always prompting me the admin password. I tried using online help and followed instruction for the commant prompt but still doesnt work.

    • shen
      February 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      I mean the command promt...

    • shen
      February 7, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      I hate when im in a hurry..lol Command Prompt..

    • Justin Pot
      February 7, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      The Ophcrack CD seen above is your best bet, Shen.

  10. Tony A
    January 6, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Good article! You can also reset the administrator password in command prompt. Here's the detailed steps: http://www.password-buster.com/resource/how-to-bypass-windows-7-password.html

  11. Magee T
    December 24, 2013 at 3:31 am

    It is not complicated to reset windows admin password at all.
    what you need indeed is a windows password recovery tool.
    here is the one ever helped me, you can take a try.
    http://passwordtech.com/windows-password-recovery.html

  12. kingdong
    November 15, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Great! I have ever come across forgot Windows 8 administrator password and locked out of computer. Finally I regained access to my locked computer by following this video guide step by step: http://youtu.be/1a97woJXUpQ

  13. dinnes casas
    November 1, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Hi Justin P.my name is Dinnes Casas came from phili. i lost my administrator account password.
    can you help me please.please

    • Justin P
      November 1, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      Did the steps above not work out, Dinnes? I don't know what I'd try next, can you give me more information about your computer?

  14. Echo
    October 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Hi,
    I forgot my administrator password on window 8. My account isn't Microsoft account. I already used Ophcrack but can't find password. What should I do?

    • Justin P
      October 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      I'd recommend removing the password with the Offline NT Password tool linked to above.

    • gabriel maton
      January 20, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      i erase my administrator account for accidentally but when i going to download a game i cant because i need the permission from the administrator what should i do?

  15. Carlotta
    September 29, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Hi Justin,
    I forgot my administrator password on my windows 8. I went to Microsoft account and changed password there, but I still get the wrong password message. I've tried this several times, and no joy. What can I do now?

    • Justin P
      October 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      To be clear: is this the primary account on the computer? Or are you looking for the password for the "Administrator" account? Because there probably isn't one...

  16. Jorge
    August 23, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I like PCUnlocker the most. It's not a freeware but it's more powerful than free options. Besides resetting lost Windows password, PCUnlocker can also reset forgotten Windows 8 Microsoft account password, and promote standard user account to administrator. It also supports Windows 8 UEFI secure booting.

    • Justin P
      September 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      You don't need software for Microsoft accounts...just use the web site to restore the password.

  17. Nirah
    August 12, 2013 at 4:07 am

    i think when you lost Windows administrator password, there is another way, that is to use the program such as the SmartKey Windows Password Recovery from http://www.recoverlostpassword.com/products/windowspasswordrecovery.html
    What do you think of it?

    • Justin P
      August 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Never seen this, and the grammatical errors on the site lead me to mistrust it. I could be wrong, though – if anyone has positive experience with this $20 program they should let us know.

    • Michael E
      December 16, 2013 at 7:05 am

      Thanks Nirah , I have tried your SmartKey Windows password recovery prgoram and it worked!

  18. Pooky J
    July 20, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Assuming that the Administrator account isn't locked, you can just press Ctrl-Alt-Del at the login screen a few time to show the ol' school login screen, type "Administrator" (without quote") into the username, and leave the password blank. Now you can use that account, and it won't even ask you for the previous password of any account that you want to change (or delete).

    • Justin Pot
      July 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Administrator is locked by default for anything after Vista, though. Great tip for XP, however.

  19. ank91
    July 19, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Active password reset.
    KonBOOT,
    ntpwdedit,
    sala password reset.

    google them

    • raph
      May 3, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Ank91 do have konBoot installer for windows 8

  20. Sassah122 S
    July 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    What about an article for mac?

    • Justin Pot
      July 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      I should look into this, you're right!

      • Sassah122 S
        July 21, 2013 at 9:57 pm

        Thanks!

  21. sadiq
    July 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Excellent write up

  22. Meena B
    July 18, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    i know one that used to work on windows 7, haven't tested on other but i think it also works on windows 8
    get any live cd, maybe linux one or Hiren's boot cd or any live cd that can access C:windowssystem32

    from that live cd, take a copy of cmd.exe, and backup of utilman.exe
    rename the copy of cmd.exe to utilman.exe
    now when you try to login to windows, use the utility manager, and you'll get the cmd window
    now type
    control userpasswords2
    and reset the password

    this won't let you recover your password, only change-reset

    • CJRalph
      July 19, 2013 at 6:59 am

      Or using the method above, at the command line type:
      net user *
      and it will ask for the new password.
      e.g. net user administrator *

    • CJRalph
      July 19, 2013 at 7:00 am

      That was supposed to be net user (your existing username) *.
      The system removed the angle brackets I used. :-(

      • Meena B
        July 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm

        you can even do it from any windows cd
        just start it, repair> command
        and use these commands

        copy c:windowssystem32utilman.exe c:utilman.exe
        copy c:windowssystem32cmd.exe c:windowssystem32utilman.exe

        restart and use the commands i used above, that's just something other than using a live cd that will also work fine

    • divine
      May 2, 2015 at 7:34 am

      hi, i tried this , its not working, can u suggest any other(i know am commenting after 2 years)

    • Justin Pot
      May 2, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      Hey Divine, I'm sorry but I don't know what to try outside of the methods laid out here, sorry.

  23. Laurentiu S
    July 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Actually there is (imo) a better tool called Kon-Boot. It's very fast, easy to use and it supports other OSes.

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