There's nothing worse than forgetting your password. Period. It can ruin your day completely. If you put off creating a Windows password reset disk or disabled automatic login and can't remember the password, now is the time to kick yourself.
Fortunately there are several online services out there that can help, if you are willing to pay or wait for them to reveal your password. Instead, this tip will show you how to reset your Windows password in minutes.
Online password recovery services such as Login Recovery and Fast Crack are easy to use, but either charge for priority service or make you wait two or more days to display your password. No thanks!
Instead there is an old tool, that is well supported and kept up to date, called Offline NT Password & Registry Editor that will reset Windows passwords on the fly and get you back up and running again…with out the wait.
I highly recommend that you read this tutorial first before attempted any password recovery. Not doing so could result in unexpected results. You have been warned!
NOTE: If you use EFS encrypted files, do not use Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, since all encrypted files for that user will be unreadable (after changing the password) and cannot be recovered unless you remember the old password again.
To get started select which boot method you want to use and download either:
NOTE: Right click on the links below and select Save Link As.
– Floppy image along with SCSI drivers (if you hard drives are attached to a SCSI controller)
– CD image – scroll down to "Download" section (includes SCSI drivers)
– If your PC supports USB booting, you can create a bootable USB drive from the files on the CD (see the readme file on the CD for more info).
Once you have selected and created the media, insert it in the drive (or plug into the USB port) and startup your PC. For this tutorial I am using the CD image for booting.
If you PC does not boot from the above media you selected, make sure your BIOS is enabled to boot from Floppy or CD or USB.
1 – At the first screen press the Enter key, which will automatically load disk drivers for you:
2 – In this step, select the boot partition, which is 1 on my Computer (arrow in below screen shot) and probably will be on your Computer. The default selection will also be in brackets before the blinking cursor. Since it is the default, you can just press Enter. If your boot partition is another number, type it in at the cursor and press Enter:
3 – After the boot partition has loaded, select the path to the registry folder. The table below shows you the path depending on which version of Windows is installed:
- Windows NT 3.51 – winnt35/system32/config
- Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000 – winnt/system32/config
- Windows 2003/Xp/Vista – windows/system32/config
Press Enter if you are running 2003, XP or Vista. For other versions, enter the number and press Enter:
4 – In the next step, since we want to change the password, press Enter to accept the default option of 1:
5 – In this step, press Enter to accept the default option of 1 – "Edit user data and passwords":
6 – Next, all users accounts on your System will be displayed. Enter the user name and press Enter. On my System, I need to change the password for the account WTN:
7 – Finally, the part we have been waiting for. For best results, leave the password blank by typing an asterisk * (don't worry you can change it later) and press Enter then type y and Enter to acknowledge that you want to change the password.
8 – Type ! (exclamation point) to exit, then at the next question "What to do", type q then y to write to the files. You should see "Edit Complete"
9 – At New run? press enter. Remove the media from the drive or USB port and press Ctrl+Alt+Del to reboot.
At the login prompt, just hit Enter and you should be able to logon to Windows.
If for any reason, Windows does not allow you to logon, repeat the steps again to change your password and at step 7, type in a password (instead of making it blank).
After logging on, don't forget to change your Windows password:
On XP, click on Start \ Run and type nusrmgr.cpl in the runbox and press OK. In the User Accounts window, click on your account and select Change my password.
On Vista, click on Start \ Control Panel \ User Accounts. Select your user account and click Change my password.
For more information, check out Offline NT Password & Registry Editor FAQ.