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Three Methods to Resetting a Windows Login Password

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Resetting the login password on a Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10 local account isn't a overly cumbersome process and there are a number of methods available for each. This tutorial will go over three including the CMD method, the Hiren's BootCD PE method, & the MediCat method.

 

1. The CMD Method

Spoiler

Most popular due to the pre-included nature of the Command Prompt is the CMD method. This solution will have you using almost entirely command-line console commands. If this is something you're not comfortable with you can choose from the other two methods below. Getting started what we need is access to the Command Prompt from the login screen. Once we have access to this we can perform the actual recovery.

 

1.1 - Getting Started

Spoiler

Before recovery can begin a bootable installation media is required. This can be a Windows Installation CD or a thumb drive that has been setup with a windows.iso file. For the scope of OS's being covered in this guide a windows10.iso bootable installer will enable us to recover all of them. If you have a Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10 installation CD you can insert this into your CD drive, boot to it (by either changing the boot order in your BIOS or using the boot override menu (often F10 sometimes F8 or F2)), then skipping to Step 1.1.2 - Accessing The Drive.

 

1.1.1 - Setting Up the USB Boot Media

Spoiler

If you don't have one of the aforementioned Windows installation CD's (or if it is not convent for you to use one) you can create a USB bootable equivalent. To do this you will require the following:

  1. A thumb drive 8GB in size or larger. (NOTE: All existing data will be overwritten when creating the bootable media.)
  2. windows10.iso file.
  3. The Windows Media Creation Tool.

Begin by plugging your thumb drive into a Windows computer you have access to and visit www.Microsoft.com to download the windows10.iso with the Windows Media Creation Tool. The webpage will have you start by pressing Download tool now. This will download the Windows Media Creation Tool. This tool comes with clear and concise instructions on how to setup the media on USB so the steps will not be gone over here.

 

1.1.2 - Accessing the Drive

Spoiler

Once the installation media has been booted CMD can be brought up using Shift+F10. With CMD up we need to figure out the drive letter assigned to the drive we want to access. This can be determined by running the following commands:




diskpart
list volume

DISKPART is a disk management utility and by listing the connected volumes a column labeled Ltr will show you the drive letters. Having different quantities of disks connected to the system may change the drive letter of the disk you want to access and recover. It's important to note the drive letter and use it in the steps below.

 

NOTE: If you see more than two drive letters it is usually easy to determine which is the drive you want by looking at the size of the volumes. Generally your Windows boot volume is the largest volume unless you have configured something such as dual-booting or a dedicated storage drive.

 

 

1.2 - Modifying System32 Files on Windows XP/VISTA/7/*8/*8.1/*10

Spoiler

*Windows Defender in Windows 8/8.1/10 may treat modifying sethc.exe as a Trojan preventing this method from working. In light of this you may have to use another utility. utilman.exe (Accessibility Options aka Ease of Access) is an available function on the lock screen of all three versions and can replace sethc.exe in the following instructions.

Once CMD is up, ready to go, and you have your drive letter (substituting c:\ below if necessary) determined you can begin.

 

Start by backing up sethc.exe:



copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe.bak

And then replacing/renaming cmd.exe to sethc.exe:



copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe

You can now shutdown your computer and remove the Windows Installer USB/CD. Now turn the computer on again. Once you reach your login page press Shift five times (or the Accessibility Options/Ease of Access icon once in the event of version 8/8.1/10). A Command Prompt should appear.

 

1.3 - Resetting the Password

Spoiler

Resetting the password itself is going to be the easiest step out of everything here. The command works as follows:



net user your_username new_password

Close CMD and type your new password in the password box. You should be let in.

 

1.4 - Closing Instructions (Fixing the System32 Files)

Spoiler

Repeat the instructions that brought up CMD on your installation media. To fix/recover sethc.exe or utilman.exe:



move c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe.bak c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe

In the event of utilman.exe:



move c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe.bak c:\windows\system32\utilman.exe

And you're done.

 

 

2. The Hiren's BootCD PE Method

Spoiler

Hiren's BootCD was a multi-purpose tool that had you boot mini-Windows XP and came with a series of tools including NTPWEdit which was used for resetting Windows login passwords. The Hiren's BootCD project has recently seen a revitalization from the community with Hiren's BootCD PE which uses Windows 10 and provides the same functionality. This method will go over how to reset your password using the updated edition.

 

2.1 - Downloading & Setting Up Hiren's BootCD PE

Spoiler

2.1.1 - Downloading the Tools

Spoiler

Two tools need to be downloaded on a Windows computer that you have access to, Hiren's BootCD PE itself and a tool known as Rufus. Rufus will enable us to setup Hiren's BootCD PE on a thumb drive so we can boot to it.

  1. Hiren's BootCD PE can be downloaded here (download link is at the bottom: HBCD_PE_x64.iso)
  2. Rufus can be downloaded here (download link can be found under Download, current version V3.8)

 

2.1.2 - Setting Up a Bootable Thumb Drive with Rufus

Spoiler

With the Rufus tool downloaded you can install it. Once you're done you'll need to insert a thumb drive 4GB or larger and launch the application.

 

NOTE: All existing data on the thumb drive will be overwritten when creating the media.

 

On the right side of the menu towards the top is a button labeled SELECT. Click this. What you need to do is browse for the Hirens.iso file you downloaded and Open it.

 

NOTE: With the destination thumb drive determined all other settings should be fine left default. You should not need to tinker with any other settings unless you have a specific reason to.

 

Press START. You may be prompted to choose between DD & ISO. If you are select ISO and continue. You will be notified when it is done.

 

2.1.3 - Booting Hiren's BootCD PE

Spoiler

Remove the thumb drive and plug it into the computer you intend to reset the password on. Then either though the boot override menu (often F10 but sometimes F11, F8, or F2), or by changing the boot order in your BIOS boot to the thumb drive.

 

 

2.2 - Resetting the Password on Windows XP/VISTA/7/8/8.1/10

Spoiler

Once you're at the desktop you will see a folder labeled Utilities. You will want to follow the path:



Utilities\Security\Passwords\NT Password Edit

Launch this. A window will pop up. You now need to locate the SAM file on the drive you need to recover. The program will have taken you to the default directory for you so all you have to do is press Open if you don't have multiple drives with multiple installs connected.

 

NOTE: You may receive a warning that your disk is hibernating. Follow the on-screen instructions and restart. Once you restart Hiren's the error should go away. If it persists you can ignore it at your own risk and continue or choose from the other two password reset methods.

 

After the SAM file loads the Windows accounts on the drive will appear, you will then need to:

  1. Select the name for the account you want to recover and press Change Password.
  2. Type your new password.
  3. Verify it.
  4. Press OK.
  5. Press Save Changes.
  6. Press Exit.

You can now restart the computer and boot back into Windows. Type your new password and you should be let in.

 

 

3. The MediCat Method

Spoiler

MediCat is a multi-function Linux based project that can perform a variety of tasks, one of which is the resetting of user account passwords. This feature in itself has several tools to do it with. For this example we will use MediCat Mini-Windows 10. In order to set this up we need to download a couple of things.

 

3.1 - Downloading & Setting Up MediCat Mini-Windows 10

Spoiler

3.1.1 - Downloading the Tools

Spoiler

Two tools need to be downloaded. Mini-Windows 10 (mini.windows.10_v19.10_NAKED.iso) and a tool known as Rufus. Rufus will enable us to setup Mini-Windows 10 on a thumb drive so we can boot to it.

 

The MediCat Mini-Windows 10 tool can be downloaded here (Download can be performed via Google Drive, Mega, or via Torrent. We want mini.windows.10_v19.10_NAKED.iso you may have to decompress it yourself from .7z)

Rufus can be downloaded here (download link can be found under Download, current version V3.8)

 

3.1.2 - Setting Up the Bootable Thumb Drive with Rufus

Spoiler

With the Rufus tool downloaded you can install it. Once you're done you'll need to insert a thumb drive 4GB or larger and launch the application.

 

NOTE: All data will be overwritten when creating the media.

 

On the right side of the menu towards the top is a button labeled SELECT. Click this. What you need to do is browse for the mini-windows10.iso file you downloaded and Open it.

 

NOTE: With the destination thumb drive determined all other settings should be fine left default. You should not need to tinker with any other settings unless you have a specific reason to.

 

Press START. You may be prompted to choose between DD & ISO. If you are select ISO and continue. You will be notified when it is done.

 

3.1.3 - Booting MediCat Mini-Windows 10

Spoiler

Remove the thumb drive and plug it into the computer you intend to reset the password on. Now either though the Boot override menu (often F10 but sometimes F11, F8, or F2), or by changing the boot order in your BIOS boot to the thumb drive.

 

 

3.2 - Resetting the Password on Windows XP/VISTA/7/8/8.1/10

Spoiler

Once Mini-Windows 10 has booted you'll be shown a desktop. Immediately on the desktop is a tool called Reset User Passwords, click this.

 

Assuming that only one other disk with one Windows install is connected to the computer the program will automatically load your SAM file and show you the systems user accounts. From here select the one with the username of the account you need to reset the password on and click Reset Password. Type your new password. Hit OK. Hit OK again. Then restart and boot back into Windows. Your new password should now work.

 

There are a number of other ways to accomplish this and get the same result but these are among the easiest methods. There are also ways to recover Online Microsoft accounts but they will not be gone over at this time. Hope this helps.


Guides & Tutorials:

Three Methods to Resetting a Windows Login Password

A Beginners Guide to Debian CLI Based File Servers

A Beginners Guide to PROXMOX

How to Use Rsync on Microsoft Windows for Cross-platform Automatic Data Replication

A How To Guide: Setting up SMB3.0 Multichannel on FreeNAS

How You can Reset Your Windows Login Password with Hiren's BootCD - (Depreciated)

 

Guide/Tutorial in Progress:

How to Build Your Own DAS

 

In the Queue:

GPU Pass-though w/ QEMU on Debian Linux

How to Setup Drive Sharing in Windows 10

How to Format a HDD/SSD in Windows

 

Don't see what you need? Check the Full List or *PM me, if I haven't made it I'll add it to the list.

*NOTE: I'll only add it to the list if the request is something I know I can do.

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extremely in depth and well written!   great job!


How do Reavers clean their spears?

|Specs in profile|

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
3 hours ago, Tsuki said:

extremely in depth and well written!   great job!

Expect to see more like this in the future.

 

1 hour ago, imreloadin said:

You forgot to list the "Re-install Windows" method xD

Well, technically you're not wrong. That would be a method. :D

 


Guides & Tutorials:

Three Methods to Resetting a Windows Login Password

A Beginners Guide to Debian CLI Based File Servers

A Beginners Guide to PROXMOX

How to Use Rsync on Microsoft Windows for Cross-platform Automatic Data Replication

A How To Guide: Setting up SMB3.0 Multichannel on FreeNAS

How You can Reset Your Windows Login Password with Hiren's BootCD - (Depreciated)

 

Guide/Tutorial in Progress:

How to Build Your Own DAS

 

In the Queue:

GPU Pass-though w/ QEMU on Debian Linux

How to Setup Drive Sharing in Windows 10

How to Format a HDD/SSD in Windows

 

Don't see what you need? Check the Full List or *PM me, if I haven't made it I'll add it to the list.

*NOTE: I'll only add it to the list if the request is something I know I can do.

Link to post
Share on other sites

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