What should I do if I’ve forgotten or lost Windows admin password? This is one of the most common questions PC users ask. If you don’t want to keep the files and apps on your computer, you can format your hard drive and do a clean system install. But that’s not always the case. I’ve gathered a list of 3 best tools that will help you recover/reset lost Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP passwords easily.
Option 1: Offline NT Password & Registry Editor
Offline NT Password & Registry Editor is one of the most popular Windows password editing software out there. It has been available for about two decades. This software works great on Windows 10 / 8 / 7 / Vista / XP / 2000 / NT. But after Microsoft strengthened some security aspects on Windows 10 Creators Update, this software may do not work anymore.
This tool is aimed at advanced users because it uses command-line environment that average users will probably find hard to understand. Follow these steps to use Offline NT Password & Registry Editor to reset your forgotten Windows password:
- Download the CD image of Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, and burn it to a disc.
- Change the boot sequence in the BIOS, and instruct your computer to boot from CD.
- The program will list out all Windows installations found on your hard drive. Type the number of your locked Windows installation and hit Enter.
- In the next screen, type 1 and hit Enter to let the program load the SAM registry hive for editing.
- Type 1 to choose the “Password reset [sam]” option.
- Type 1 to choose the “Edit user data and passwords” option.
- Next, type the RID of your locked Windows user, and hit Enter.
- Type 1 to choose the “Clean (blank) user password” option.
- Now you’ve successfully removed your Windows login password. Type q to quit, and then type y to save your registry Done!
Option 2: Ophcrack
Ophcrack is another popular Windows password recovery tool based on Linux Live CD. Unlike other password tools, it uses rainbow tables to crack Windows password from NT/LM hashes in the SAM file, instead of resetting the password. So if you won’t lose the EFS-encrypted files on your computer, Ophcrack is a good choice.
Here’s how to use Ophcrack to recover lost or forgotten Windows password:
- Download the LiveCD image of Ophcrack, and burn it to a CD.
- Boot your computer with CD. The first screen will ask you to choose the graphics mode. Just choose the automatic option and hit Enter.
- You’ll see a desktop-like interface and Ophcrack will mount your hard drive and attempt to crack the Windows password. This may take a while and Ophcrack will show you the password in the NT Pwd column.
- Write down the password for your Windows account, reboot your PC and login to Windows using the password you just recovered.
Option 3: PCUnlocker
PCUnlocker is a comprehensive tool that can reset forgotten Windows password for local / Microsoft / domain accounts, bypass Windows login authentication, unlock a locked/disabled/expired account, change your standard account to an administrator, etc. It’s an extremely easy tool for computer novices to regain access to password protected computers, and I always keep one around in case of emergency.
PCUnlocker comes in the form of a bootable image that supports both Legacy and UEFI boot. Follow these steps to use PCUnlocker to reset lost Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP password:
- The first thing you need to do is create a PCUnlocker Live USB (or CD) from another PC you have access to. Download the PCUnlocker ISO image, and burn it to USB thumb drive (or CD) using the freeware ISO2Disc.
- Next, you have to boot your locked computer from USB drive. To do this, you may have to make sure that your computer’s BIOS/UEFI is set to boot from USB (or CD), and not the hard drive.
- Once the PCUnlocker tool loads from USB (or CD), it will list out all accounts in your Windows box. Simply choose one of your accounts and click on the Reset Password button.
- You’ll see a small dialog box that asks you to set a new password for your selected account. Enter your new password and click OK.
- Now you’ve successfully reset your lost Windows password. Remove USB and reboot your computer, you can then log in to Windows with your new password!
Regardless of why you want to recover or reset a Windows password, there are lots of different ways of doing it. Hope you can use one of the best tools above to regain access to your computer without losing any files.