How to Remove a Forgotten Password on Windows XP

by braniac

Have you forgotten your password? Has a client of yours forgot their password? This is really easy to fix with a few simple steps.

First, on the internet PC, we need to download BurnAtOnce from http://www.burnatonce.net/ . Just go to the site, then click on downloads on the right-hand side and select the first burnatonce file. When it asks where to save it, save it to your desktop.

Minimize all your windows and double-click on the file that you just downloaded. This will start the installation for BurnAtOnce. The process is really easy. You just follow the prompts and if you aren't sure about a screen, just click Next. The default settings are just fine.

Next, we need to make a boot CD that we will use to remove the password. To do that, go to http://home.eunet.no/pnordahl/ntpasswd/ and click on Bootdisk.

On the bottom half of the screen, scroll down until you see Download in big letters and then click on the link that says cd######.zip where the ###### is a number like 070927 or something similar. (New versions of this CD come out from time to time, so this number changes, but that's OK for us!) Save this file to the desktop, also, when it asks.

Now that the file is saved, we need to unzip it. If you have WinRar, you can right-click on it and click Extract Here. If you have something else, then I will assume that you know how to make it unzip a file.

Now we have the file unzipped (This unzipped file is called an ISO file. ISO files are an exact duplicate of a CD.) To use this make a CD is really simple. You just double-click on it! This will start the BurnAtOnce with your ISO file loaded right in.

All you have to do is insert a blank CD and click the Write button and click OK to any prompts that pop up. It should take less than a minute to burn this CD. Once you have this CD, you can use it over and over again, skipping the above steps.

Now, we will do the actual removing of the password. Insert the CD into the computer that needs the password removed and boot to the CD and restart the computer. Making the computer boot using the CD is usually automatic, but you may need to make the computer look to the CD if it does not do so automatically. While the computer boots, it may say something like "F12 - Boot Menu". This indicates the key that you need to press to tell the computer to boot to something other than its main drive. It's really very self-explanatory.

Once you begin to see a bunch (screens-full) of text going by, you know you are using the CD. Don't be afraid if you don't understand all the text flying by, it's not important to us. I'll let you know what you need to know to make this happen. (It's really easy and you'll get really fast after you do it 3 or 4 times. You really look impressive once you remember what prompts ask for what and you can move through them fast. :)

At this screen, you usually just hit Enter. If you have any problems, you may have to type in one of the 2 options. You just type it as it shows ("boot nousb", etc.) I've never actually had to use one of these options, though, and I've done this hundreds of times.

At the next prompt, you just need to hit Enter, again. This step in the process just finds your hard drive. It's automatic, though, so you don't need to do anything. I just want to keep you informed about what we're doing here. (The brackets [ ] show the default option at each prompt. If you just hit enter, it uses this default option.)

This prompt asks us what action we want to perform. We want to reset the password, so hit Enter for the default option.

We want to edit the password, so hit Enter again, because that's the default option at this screen. (I told you that you could get real fast at this and look impressive. :)

At this point, we want to select which account to remove the password from. Administrator is the default, so if you want that one, hit Enter. If not, decide which on you want from the Username column of the table above the prompt and type that username in and hit Enter.

Here, you want to just reset the password, so you press 1 and hit Enter. (The default option here is to quit, which we don't want to do yet.)

Now, it should report "Password cleared!" Good job! You just hacked your Windows password! Don't restart the computer yet, though, we need to finish the process for it to take effect. Here, we enter an exclamation mark (!) and hit Enter. This quits this screen.

At this screen, we hit q and then Enter.

This step actually makes the change take effect. Hit y and Enter here.

Change made! Now, we just hit Enter to quit the process.

When you see this $, that means that we are done. Reboot the computer. It will ask to scan your drive for errors. This process doesn't cause any problems, but Windows just notices that something changed while it was looking, so it wants to scan. Go ahead and humor it.

Now, the password for the account that you chose is blank! Enjoy!

Tip

  • check You might want to print these steps out to have with you during the process.

Warnings

  • close Don't abuse this newfound skill.
  • close With great knowledge comes great responsibility.

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