Protecting your computer with a strong, unique password remains incredibly important. We have fingerprint, iris, and other biometric scanners integrated with our smartphones and computers. However, a strong single-use password is vital to protecting your data.
This article will focus on how to reset the Administrator Password on Windows XP. We’ve got five excellent tips for you, so read on.
If your Windows XP system is set up to log in via the Welcome Screen, there is a chance you’ll be able to log in as the system administrator. Unfortunately, this is also dependent on there being no existing password on the Administrator account.
When you boot your system, it will load the Welcome Screen. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete twice to load the user login panel.
Press OK to attempt to login without a username or password. If that doesn’t work, try typing Administrator into the User name field and pressing OK.
If you’re able to log in, head straight to Control Panel > User Account > Change Account. Then, select the account that you’d like to change the password for, and follow the on-screen instructions.
2. Reset Using Safe Mode and/or Command Prompt
If your Administrator account remains frustratingly out of reach, we can attempt to reset it using Safe Mode and the Command Prompt.
To access Safe Mode, you’ll need to restart your computer. Press F8 while the computer is booting (sometimes tapping F8 helps, if you’re unsure). Select Safe Mode with Command Prompt.
Once you enter Safe Mode, head to Control Panel > User Account > Change Account. Then, select the account that you’d like to change the password for, and follow the on-screen instructions.
There are times, however, when certain computer issues will obstruct you from changing certain settings e.g. a virus. In those cases, we can use the Command Prompt from within Safe Mode.
Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialogue. Type CMD and press Enter. This will open the Command Prompt. Now, type the following command:
net user [account name] [new password]
It should look like this:
Pro Tip: to clear the password, use the following command:
net user [account name] ""
3. Reset via an Alternative Account (XP Professional Only)
This fix only works if you’re using Windows XP Professional and you can login with an alternative account.
Start by right-clicking My Computer and selecting Manage.
Then, select System Tools > Local Users and Groups > Users. Find your user account, right-click, and select Set Password.
Remote User Management
If you cannot access Computer Management using your own account, you can use remote access instead. On another computer (it doesn’t have to be Windows XP), in the Computer Management window, right-click Computer Management (Local). Select Connect to another computer. Select Another Computer. Enter the IP address of the computer you’d like to connect to. If you’re on the same network, this will take the form of a internal LAN address, such as 192.168.x.x, or 10.x.x.x. Alternatively, if you know the computer name, you can use that e.g. \\DesktopPC.
If you’re unsure and connected to the same network, select Browse, then Advanced. Finally, select Find Now to scan your local network for computers on your network.
Once you gain remote access, you can change the password by heading to System Tools > Local Users and Groups > Users. Then, find your user account, right-click, and select Set Password.
4. Use a LiveCD or USB
If you’ve made it this far, and are still locked out… don’t worry. There are still two more fixes to try. The first up is using a LiveCD or USB drive. Linux LiveCDs and USB drives are always a massively useful tool to keep handy, getting Windows users out of sticky situations since… forever, really.
If you cannot access your Windows account, you’ll have to make a Linux LiveCD or USB drive on an alternative system. Ben Stegner has detailed the process of installing and resetting the password.
I’ll give you a rundown here.
- Make your bootable Linux CD or USB drive (here is our guide to Ubuntu).
- Reboot the Windows XP machine. Press either F12, ESC, or Delete to choose your boot device. Select your CD or USB drive when prompted.
- Press CTRL + L to edit the Location path. Type computer:/// to see all your drives. Select your Windows installation, right-click, and select Mount.
- Open the Linux Terminal by pressing CTRL + ALT + T. Run the following command to install password reset utility chntpw: sudo apt-get install chntpw. (Ignoring the period.)
- Change the working directory using the following command: cd /mnt/Windows/System32/config
- Retrieve a list of Windows users using the following command: sudo chntpw -1 SAM. (Ignoring the period.)
- Find your account user name. Then, use the following command to select the account: sudo chntpw -u “USER NAME” SAM. Then, type 2 to enter editing mode.
- Type a new password, hit Enter to submit, and y to confirm.
- Reboot into Windows, and use the new password.
5. Game Over: Full Format and Reinstallation
If nothing, but nothing else works, and you’re still somehow locked out of your account, there is only one more option: fire. Okay, not fire. But you will have to remove your hard drive from its host machine, connect it to another machine to complete a backup, and then format the drive.
Once the format is complete, you can reinstall Windows XP, and enter a new password that you can actually remember.
One of the tips and tricks we’ve covered should have helped you reset your Windows XP account password. Hopefully, you didn’t have to resort to a full system nuke and reinstall — that can be a real pain!
Do you have Windows XP user account password reset tip to share with our readers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Image Credit: The Hack Today