How to Reset the System Administrator Password

by David Weinberg

A Windows computer system uses a system administrator account to control all major changes to the system. If you have lost or forgotten the system administrator password for a computer, it is nearly impossible to install new programs, regulate other users and maintain the computer. Fortunately, a number of utilities exist that will allow you to reset your computer’s administrator password on any NT-based Windows system, from Windows 2000 to Windows 7. As of November 2010, Stellar Phoenix is a $45 tool that can reset your password. Passware Basic is a $30 password reset utility. You will also need a Windows 2000, XP or 2003 Setup Disc to create a Live CD for Passware Basic. NTpasswd is a free program that boots into a Live CD Linux distribution to edit your Windows registry.

Stellar Phoenix

1

Purchase, download, install and open Stellar Phoenix using the link in the Resources section. You can do this on any computer with a CD-burning drive. The software will prompt you for a username and password; enter the password and username you created when you purchased the software.

2

Click on the “Admin/User” button on the left side of the program window. Click the “Get Boot Disk” hyperlink to download the Phoenix boot disc. Burn the boot-disc image using your image-burning software.

3

Insert the boot disc into the computer that you want to access. Restart the computer and boot into the BIOS.

4

Open the boot settings screen and rearrange the boot order so that your computer’s CD drive is above the other options. Save changes and exit the BIOS. Your computer will reboot and load Phoenix.

5

Click “Admin/User Password.” Select an account name and click “Reset.” Click “OK,” then close Phoenix and remove the disc from your drive. Your computer will restart to the Windows login screen.

Passware Basic

1

Purchase, download, install and open Passware Basic using the link in the Resources section. You can do this on any computer with a CD-burning drive. The software will prompt you for a username and password; enter the password and username you created when you purchased the software.

2

Click “Reset Administrator Password.” Insert a Windows 2000, XP or 2003 setup disc into your computer’s disc drive. Click the browse button, browse to the I386 folder of the disc and select the “TXTSETUP.TIF” file. Click “Next”, insert a blank CD into your DVD burner and click “Next” again to create a boot disc.

3

Insert the boot disc into the computer that you want to access. Restart the computer and boot into the BIOS.

4

Open the boot settings screen and rearrange the boot order so that your computer’s CD drive is above the other options. Save changes and exit the BIOS. Your computer will reboot and load Passware.

5

Select the Windows installation that you want to reset the password for. Type “N.” Select the administrator account. Type “Y.” Type “N.” Remove the Passware disc from your drive. Your computer will restart to the Windows login screen.

NTpasswd

1

Download the NTpasswd bootable disc image from the Resources section. Extract the image from the archive and burn it to a blank CD.

2

Insert the NTpasswd disc in the computer where you want to reset the system administrator password. Restart the computer and boot into the BIOS.

3

Open the boot settings screen and rearrange the boot order so that your computer’s CD drive is above the other options. Save changes and exit the BIOS. Your computer will reboot and load NTpasswd.

4

Press “Enter” to load NTpasswd onto your computer. The software will display a list of the hard drives on your computer. Type the number of the hard drive with the Windows installation that you want to reset. Press “Enter.” Press “Enter” again to confirm the Windows registry directory.

5

Press “Enter” when prompted to begin loading the login portion of the registry. Press the “Enter” key again to select “Edit user data and passwords.”

6

Type the name of the system administrator account. Press “Enter.” Press “Enter” again to reset the user’s password.

7

Type “!” then press “Enter.” Type “q” and press “Enter” to quit NTpasswd. Type “y” and press “Enter” to save registry changes. Press “Ctrl” + “Alt” + “Delete” to reboot. Remove the CD from the drive.

Items you will need

About the Author

David Weinberg began writing in 2005 at New College of Florida, composing articles on history and political science for publication within the school and for online circulation. Weinberg has been a professional outdoor educator for more than five years with experience throughout the United States.