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Reset Windows Password When You Have Forgotten It

Discussion in 'Tech, Gadgets & Science Forum' started by MziziMkavu, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Aug 31, 2012
    Joined: Feb 3, 2009
    Messages: 38,340
    Likes Received: 2,419
    Trophy Points: 280

    Offline Windows Password & Registry Editor, Bootdisk / CD

    [HR][/HR]I've put together a single floppy or CD / USB Drive which contains things needed to reset the passwords on most systems. The CD can also be installed on a USB drive, see readme.txt on the CD.

    The bootdisk should support most of the more usual disk controllers, and it should auto-load most of them. Both PS/2 and USB keyboard supported.
    More or less tested from NT3.5 up to Windows 7, including the server versions like 2003 and 2008. Also 64 bit windows supported.
    If password is reset on users that have EFS encrypted files, and the system is XP or newer, all encrypted files for that user will be UNREADABLE! and cannot be recovered unless you remember the old password again
    If you don't know if you have encrypted files or not, you most likely don't have them. (except maybe on corporate systems)

    Please see the Frequently Asked Questions and the version history below before emailing questions to me. Thanks!
    [HR][/HR]How to use?

    Please read the walthrough and the FAQ before mailing me questionsIf you have the CD or USB, all drivers are included.
    If you use the floppy, you need one or more of the driver floppies, too.


    1. Get the machine to boot from the CD or USB drive.
    2. Floppy version need to swap floppy to load drivers.
    3. Load drivers (usually automatic, but possible to run manual select)
    4. Disk select, tell which disk contains the Windows system. Optionally you will have to load drivers.
    5. PATH select, where on the disk is the system?
    6. File select, which parts of registry to load, based on what you want to do.
    7. Password reset or other registry edit.
    8. Write back to disk (you will be asked)
    DON'T PANIC!! - Most questions can usually be answered with the default answer which is given in [brackets]. Just press enter/return to accept the default answer.The walkthrough and instructions is now on its own page! but is quite old.. hope to make a new one..
    What can go wrong?

    Well. Lots of things, actually. But most of the problems is of the type "cannot find" something. And then nothing happens.Also, see the FAQ for help with common problems.
    For linux-knowledged people, you may do things manually if the scripts fail, you have shells on tty1-tty4 (ALT F1 - ALT F4).
    [HR][/HR]Bootdisk history


    • Newer kernel with newer disk and NTFS drivers as usual.
    • Hopefully fixed the problem for the CCISS driver used in a lot of servers, for example the HP DL3xx series and such. Thanks to everyone who reported it, and also to the several people who explanined my mistake (I missed that the access path for it had changed in the driver).
    • Some minor tweaks to the path select again. See also below.
    • Major bugfixes and functionality expansion of the registry edit functionality, but that is more for administrators using the tool in their own ways. See other pages on this site.
    • Newer kernel with newer disk drivers as usual.
    • Path select has been improved, I hope, it should now also tell what it does find on its way, and be more likely to work automatically.
    • If it does not find the correct path, you probably selected the wrong partition.
    • NOTE: Windows 7 has a small boot partition first (number 1) for the boot loader, and my system may not be smart enough to select number 2 instead. So you select number 2 manually. Thanks!
    • Release contains some small bugfixes that may be able to handle some problematic registries. Or maybe not.
    • For more change info not directly related to regular password reset, se the other pages.
    • Update 2009-12-01: This old 2008-08-02 release also works on Windows 7, all versions as far as I know. New release hopefully sometime early 2010.
    • Now uses NTFS-3g as NTFS filesystem driver.
    • This hopefully removes some problems regarding dirty and "bad flags" NTFS volumes.
    • You will be asked if you like to force your way and continue anyway if the disk has been uncleanly shut down.
    • There exists a small chance of problems with the very latest written files before the unclean shutdown if you select to force it.
    • Safest is still to boot into windows and shut down properly if that is possible with an unclean volume.
    • Path select now hopefully better at detecting default suggestion and to actually find it...
    • Newer kernel, and probably newer and better drivers.
    • No changes to the passord/registry edit program (chntpw) since last release.
    • Sorry, did not have the time to finish the floppy version yet.

    • Newer kernel, and probably newer and better drivers.
    • Windows Dynamic Disks now supported, but maybe not all combinations of mirrors etc. It recognizes the partition layout at least.
    • Should now be possible to load extra drivers (drivers?.zip) from USB the same way as with floppy. Or maybe not. Did not test it that much.
    • Fixed a lot of bugs in the registry handling, did not affect password reset much, but did affect larger registry edits.
    • You still may experience hangs when the NTFS disk is mounted, it will hang after saying "NTFS version x.xx" or such. If there is disc activity, just wait, it may take a while.

    • Patched up NTFS driver to get rid of hang on mount in many cases (after selecting disk). Got many problem reports on this. At the same time someone on the NTFS-for-linux mailinglist mentioned it, and Anton Altaparmakov made a patch very quick. Thank you Anton!
    • Nice if people experiencing the hang in 2007-09-23 can mail me and tell if the fix worked or not. Thanks!
    • NOTE: It may still take up to a minute or two to select the disk.
    • Floppy version had a script bug making it crash in the first menu. Fixed.
    • CCISS driver (HP/Compaq DLxxx etc) had different device paths. Hacked in support for it, may not be 100% still.

    • Floppy version is back! (requires 3 floppies to get all drivers, but you can compose your own driver set so you only need 2)
    • Yes, VISTA is supported (even more)
    • Disk select now indicates which disks are removable, ie are USB keys for instance.
    • Check for "read-only" NTFS mount, you get instructions on what to do if there are problems with the disk so changes won't be saved.
    • Missed out on some IDE/ATA and SATA drivers last time, better now.. I hope.
    • User can be added to the administraror group, making them administrators.
    • Stupid typo in readme.txt on CD fixed, on how to make USB bootable.
    (earlier history removed)

    • First public release.

    Note: Some links may be offsite.
    CD release, see below on how to use

    • cd110511.zip (~3MB) - Bootable CD image. (md5sum: fe0d30a1c540ec6757e748c7c09e2e 4f)
    • usb110511.zip (~3MB) - Files for USB install (md5sum: 50ced8d2a5febe22199f99acec74e6 3b)
    • cd100627.zip (~4MB) - Previous version CD. (md5sum: 6d80cdfbba97457e413f95a3554d95 24) The files inside the USB zip are exactly the same as on the CD. See below for instructions on how to make USB disk bootable.
    Floppy release (not updated anymore), see below on how to use them

    • bd080526.zip (~1.4M) - Bootdisk image (md5sum: 37889e4c540504e59132bdcdfe7f9b b7)
    • drivers1-080526.zip (~310K) - Disk drivers (mostly PATA/SATA) (md5sum: 72ac1731c6ba735d0ac2746a30dbc3 ee)
    • drivers2-080526.zip (~1.2M) - Disk drivers (mostly SCSI) (md5sum: 30172bec657c85a5f1a0b43601452f b7)
    Previous versions may sometimes be found here (also my site)
    NOTE: Versions before 0704xx will corrupt the disk on VISTA!
    How to make the CD

    Unzipped, there should be an ISO image file (cd??????.iso). This can be burned to CD using whatever burner program you like, most support writing ISO-images. Often double-clikcing on it in explorer will pop up the program offering to write the image to CD. Once written the CD should only contain some files like "initrd.gz", "vmlinuz" and some others. If it contains the image file "cd??????.iso" you didn't burn the image but instead added the file to a CD. I cannot help with this, please consult you CD-software manual or friends.
    The CD will boot with most BIOSes, see your manual on how to set it to boot from CD. Some will auto-boot when a CD is in the drive, some others will show a boot-menu when you press ESC or F10/F12 when it probes the disks, some may need to have the boot order adjusted in setup.
    How to make an bootable USB drive

    Copy all the files that is inside the usbXXXXXX.zip or on the CD onto an usb drive, directly on the drive, not inside any directory/folder.
    It is OK if there are other files on the USB drive from before, they will not be removed.
    Install bootloader on the USB drive, from command prompt in windows (start the command line with "run as administrator" if possible)
    • X:syslinux.exe -ma X:

    Replace X: with the drive letter the USB drive shows up as (DO NOT USE C
    If it seems like nothing happened, it is usually done.
    However, a file named ldlinux.sys may appear on the USB drive, that is normal.
    It should now in theory be bootable.
    Please know that getting some computers to boot from USB is worse than from CD, you may have to change settings, or some will not simply work at all.How to make the floppy

    The unzipped image (bdxxxxxx.bin) is a block-to-block representation of the actual floppy, and the file cannot simply be copied to the floppy. Special tools must be used to write it block by block.

    • Unzip the bd zip file to a folder of your choice.
    • There should be 3 files: bdxxxxxx.bin (the floppy image) and rawrite2.exe (the image writing program), and install.bat which uses rawrite2 to write the .bin file to floppy.
    • Insert a floppy in drive A: NOTE: It will lose all previous data!
    • Run (doubleclick) install.bat and follow the on-screen instructions.
    • Thanks to Christopher Geoghegan for the install.bat file (some of it ripped from memtest86 however)
    Or from unix:
    dd if=bd??????.bin of=/dev/fd0 bs=18k
    How to make and use the drivers floppy

    • Simply copy the zip file onto an empty floppy.
    • Depending on your hardware you may only need one of the driver sets or the other, or maybe both.
    • To use, insert one of the driver floppies when asked for it after booting, the zip file will be unzipped to memory.
    • If no drivers matched (no harddisk found), you can select 'f' from the main menu to load the other driver set.
    • Then select 'd' to auto-start the new drivers (if it matches your hardware)
    • Sometimes it fails detecting the floppy change and you get an error, just select 'f' again, it works the second time.
    • For more advanced users that uses this often, it is possible to unzip just the drivers you need and zip them up into a new zip archive. The zip file name must start with "drivers", the rest is ignored. (it unzips drivers*.zip)
    [HR][/HR]Other places to go for password and disk recovery

    Bootdisk credits and license

    Most of the stuff on the bootdisk is either GPL, BSD or similar license, you can basically do whatever you want with all of it, the sourcecode and licenses can be found at their sites, I did not change/patch anything.
    The "chntpw" program (password changer, registry editor) and "reged" is licensed under GNU GPL v2. COPYING.txt
    Stuff I used, big thanks:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2016
  2. Donn

    Donn JF-Expert Member

    Aug 31, 2012
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Messages: 2,424
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    Duh... Imesimama sana. Good