Recently, I have had a number of people ask me how they can recover their Windows password on their computer. They either have not logged into their computer for a long time, or recently changed the password and forgot it, or in some cases purchased a used computer that was password protected and didn’t get the password. No matter the reason, they are locked out.
I get this request quite frequently, so I have a favorite tool I like to use, the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor. I have been using this application to crack open locked Windows machines since Windows 98. It works in every version of Windows I have tried it on. It works like this. You boot to a CD that gets created using a file you download from their site(http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/). There are a few selections you have to make when the computer boots up and these may be different from machine to machine. The entire process is done in a text mode that looks like DOS from the 80s. Don’t be afraid, it isn’t nearly as hard as it looks. When you finish, the tool basically blanks out the password for your computer so when you log in there is no password to enter. Here is a link to a short tutorial video that shows you the steps, http://youtu.be/Dkks4iuPqNQ. It takes longer to download the tool than it does to actually use it to clear your password. I should warn you that this type of tool should be used at your own risk. It may not work or it may damage your operating system and force you to reinstall everything on the machine. To date, I have never had this happen to me when using this tool.
If you want to avoid having to use a tool like this and you plan ahead, Microsoft provides a method in Windows 7 and 8 for creating a password reset disk on a USB flash drive. To create your Windows password, reset disk BEFORE you lock yourself out of your computer and go to the Control Panel then click on User Accounts. Once there, in the left hand column you will see a link “Create a password reset disk.” If you follow the instructions given to you by the wizard you will soon have a Windows password reset disk you can use to reset your password. Put the disk some place safe, and the next time you forget your password all you have to do is put in the disk and click the password reset link located just below the password field. Follow the onscreen instructions and you will be logged into your machine in no time.