Don't lock yourself out of XP

... like I did. My daughter accidentally set the password on the only administrator account on my Windows XP computer, then promptly forgot what it was.

That was an interesting delimma... many sources said not having another administrator account or any other protective measures meant I was stuck and would have to reinstall Windows.
A little searching found a method to clear your password if you have your Windows XP install CD and your product key (I have no idea where mine are... got it from Emachines, so I might not even have a proper install CD, just a "recovery" CD). It ends up there are also a number of "less reputable" products (in that they are something the bad guys probably use) that can either clear out your passwords, or actually crack them for you.
I ended up using Ophcrack (on SourceForge, so I felt more comfortable with it, even given its name) which was able to crack a few passwords, including my daughter's, but not all of them. It only had to run for about 10 minutes.
Lessons learned:
1) CREATE A PASSWORD RESET DISK - it's trivial, and can even be done with a removable memory stick/thumb drive if you don't have a 3.5" drive. You just have to put the result somewhere very safe or anybody that gets hold of it can erase your password at any point in the future.
2) CREATE A SECOND ADMINISTRATOR ACCOUNT - a bit like having a backup of your data... a backup account. Surely you won't forget BOTH passwords.
3) Creating a CD from an ISO Image - DON'T DO IT AT FULL SPEED. I threw away 6 CD-Rs trying to make Ophcrack work. First one wouldn't finish booting, 2nd one wouldn't even try to boot, Third was like the first one... looked on the internet and they said do it at 4x (I was doing it at 48x) - three tries of that failed to get past writing the Table of Contents, so I tried 16x and it worked.
4)... well, give your kids their own accounts.... except the last time I tried to do that, they couldn't run most programs unless I made them administrator accounts, too... maybe XP works better since then.
5)... backups... I really should just buy one of those one-button-press backup systems since anything else is too annoying to bother doing. I do share stuff on the home network with my wife's computer, so I could get to a lot of my stuff still, but not everything (notably, all the TiVo HME programs I'm working on!)

Comments

  1. You have a few options..

    1) boot into safe mode and see if the hidden administrator account has a password set or not (alot of people forget to set it). once you get in you can create yourself a new user.

    2) An ERD disk would work if you have one.

    3) If you have an install disk you can also do a repair install which will ask you for a new admin password but won’t delete the other programs on the machine.

    4) downloadable crack programs like those listed here

    ReplyDelete
  2. How to retrieve windows 7 password
    here is something that you can use to reset the password

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is great.
    Try this one first "Ophcrack", i think this one should work
    How to recover windows password

    ReplyDelete

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