Have you lost your Windows Administrator Password? There are lots of options to recover it nowadays but almost all of them require a third party piece of software. What if I tell you that you can recover your windows administrator password with your install disk? All you need is your install key (hint: this does not need to be the same key that is installed on your machine but the key needs to match the media).
We will actually be doing a Repair. Once the repair session hits the GUI screen we can launch a command prompt that will let us reset your password, create new accounts or promote another user to be the administrator. Heck we can even make it so the machine logs in as the Administrator automatically! So here’s how you do it.
Grab your CD along with its CD key and boot to your media. Once you boot to your CD, it will say, “Press a key to boot to CD”. Go ahead and press any key.
Let Windows do its thing and start. We will not format or lose any data if you follow my explicit instructions. I was amazed when I got this to work and also sickened by how insecure workstations can be! If you have a third party SCSI, RAID or SATA adapter you will have to point it at the drivers so it can access your hard drive. If this is you then you know what to do already – F6 and point it to the drivers.
Another few minutes will pass by and Windows setup will say that it is starting Windows. Be forewarned – DO NOT HIT THE R KEY ON THE NEXT SCREEN. We will be hitting Enter to start the installation.
On the screen below that says Welcome to Setup make sure you hit the ENTER key and not R. R here will take you to the recovery console – if you do not have the administrators password you will have to start ALL OVER AGAIN! So hit Enter to set up Windows and continue.
The agreement pops up hit the F8 key to continue.
Ah ha! Now on this screen below you will want to highlight your installation of Windows if there is more than one. And hit the R key! Yes, here is where you will hit that key to repair the installation. The process rewrites all the system files and what not.
After you hit that R key the Setup wizard will start to copy the system files from the media to your hard drive/Windows Installation. This took about 4 minutes on my machine.
Windows will now reboot automatically or you can hit ENTER to speed things up a little. When the machine restarts DO NOT BOOT FROM THE CD! DO NOT HIT A KEY TO BOOT FROM YOUR CD! Take the CD out of the drive if you think this is going to be an issue for you.
Once the computer starts back up it will jump into the installer. Here, when you get to about 37 minutes left on the installer it will say Installing Devices on the bottom left hand side of the screen – Hit Shift-F10 at the same time and a command prompt will pop-up! Just like that.
Using some basic command line kung fu we type control userpasswords2 and we can do whatever we want to. You can get at anything from this command prompt you have full root/administrator access!
Once you have the user accounts control panel up, you can add, modify or remove users. Promote a user to administrator status or what have you. Remember only use this for good and not evil.
Log in and you are good to go! Do you have another method to get back into your machine that does not require any media? We would love to hear about it in the comments.