How to Disable the User Account Password in BIOS
By Sam Orr
The easiest method for changing or disabling a user account password is to log into Windows as an "administrator" and access the user accounts through the "Control Panel." If administrator access is not an option, the user account password files must be accessed and disabled offline --- outside the Windows environment --- through the BIOS. A "bootdisk" containing the program and file access code is required and will allow the computer to boot from a CD or DVD instead of from the Windows operating system. Fortunately, numerous software options are available that include not only boot files but also password access files that enable the user to remove or change any user account passwords or disable the password feature. These programs are available for download online for free and must be burned to CD to serve as a bootdisk. Although these offline password reset programs may offer differing additional features, all require the user complete a few simple steps to specify the drive location of the Windows operating system and the path, or location, of the password files. The program default choices are usually suitable for standard Windows installations.
Select and download an offline password/registry editor software program.
Unzip the .zip file and extract the .iso image file. Burn the .iso file to CD using CD-burning software to create the bootable CD.
Shut down the target computer with the user account password to be disabled. Turn the computer back on and access the BIOS by following the on-screen prompts and pressing the necessary key or sequence (commonly F2, Delete or F10) during setup. Specific instructions are available in the documentation provided with your computer.
Change the boot order if necessary to set the computer to boot first from the CD-ROM drive. Save this change and exit to allow the computer to restart. Insert the bootable CD and boot the computer to launch the password file access tool.
Enter the Windows installation path information requested, following the on-screen program instructions. For most installations, the Windows system is installed on Drive C (the default option).
Select the path or part of the registry to load, following the on-screen prompts. Specify the path to the SAM (Security Accounts Manager) file that contains the local passwords if required. On most systems, this is C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SAM. This tool displays the available accounts when the SAM file is opened.
Choose the desired user account by selecting "administrator" or entering the account user name. Select the desired password modification option to "clear" or "edit" the password. You do not need to know the old password to set a new one.
Select the option to save the changes or "write files back" as prompted. Follow on-screen instructions and close the program after the edit completion notification appears. Eject the CD and restart the computer.
- Although Microsoft only offers software password recovery support for volume customers, TechNet Plus and MSDN subscribers, a link is provided on their support sites to the free "Offline NT Password and Registry Editor" software.
- If you have forgotten the password and are unable to log in to your computer, you will need access to another computer to download an offline password/registry editor tool and create a bootable CD to boot the computer that has the user account password you want to disable.
- Third-party CD burning software such as Ahead Software's "Nero" or Roxio's "Easy CD Creator" will burn ISO image files to CD. The Microsoft Vista Support site offers links for downloading "ISO Recorder" for Vista or "ImgBurn," which supports all Windows operating systems.
- Choose the downloadable Windows password reset tool "NTPWEdit" or the free Linux distribution "Trinity Rescue Kit" if your computer does not have a functional CD/DVD drive. This free software gives the option of creating a bootable USB flash drive containing the password reset tool in addition to the usual CD/DVD bootable options.
- Offline Password Recovery tools come with no warranties or guarantees. Access to any files or email messages encrypted with EFS (Encrypted File System) as well as stored Internet and network passwords may be lost.
Sam Orr has been writing since 2006. Specializing in electronics, video games, music and home improvement, he writes for various online publications. Orr is studying physics at Ohio State University.