How to recover a lost xp password

These techniques to recover a lost xp password are among the more advanced Windows XP Tips and Tricks. In some cases, recovering from a lost password can be very easy though.

For completeness' sake we start with the simplest tips that can help you regain access to a locked account. But even if you find yourself in a more complex situation, please read on. You'll find out what to do.

Warning : Be extra careful if you are using Encrypting File System (EFS) in Windows XP Professional. If you don't know what EFS is, you probably shouldn't worry about it. It's a feature in Windows XP Professional that deals with file security on a local level. If you do use it, please always make sure to export your private and public keys before attempting to reset your password.

If you can login with another user account

If you share your computer with other users it's fairly simple to regain access to your account. You could ask one of the other users to log on to Windows with their password and perform the following steps :

Windows opens a user accounts dialog. Select the user with the lost password and click the "Reset Password" button. Enter a new password (and a second time in the confirmation box) and click ok. Click ok once again and you are ready.

Now you can log on to your account using the new password.

More advanced password recovery

If there are no other users on your machine to unlock your account, you need to reset your password "offline". Offline means that you boot your pc from outside your usual Windows XP environment using a boot disk or a bootable cdrom.

This offline technique to recover a lost xp password isn't for the faint of heart; the procedure isn't presented in a nice graphical interface and there even is a small risk involved ...

Sometimes the password reset fails and as a consequence you cannot log on with the locked user account afterwards. This doesn't happen often though, and if you are reading this because you need to recover a lost xp password ...

you weren't able to log on after all ...

Of course you will need access to another pc to create a boot disk or bootable cd.

Is your boot sequence right ?

Your computer's boot sequence is set in the BIOS and determines if the pc can boot from a floppy or cdrom. To get into the BIOS, you typically need to press a certain key or key combination during startup. Depending on the brand of your computer this can be :

If you have made your way into the BIOS, now would the time to choose either your floppy drive or your cdrom as primary startup device.

Below is a BIOS boot sequence screenshot where the floppy drive has top priority.

Lost XP Password

Creating the boot disk

You can download an offline password and registry editor to create the bootable disk at http://home.eunet.no/~pnordahl/ntpasswd/ or if this url has become invalid over time, you can request your copy with the small form below. You will receive a mail with a valid download link shortly afterwards.

Don't worry, we will use your email address only to send you the download link, not for anything else. We hate spammers as much as you do.

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After you have downloaded the Offline Password and Registry editor you have a .zip file on your hard drive that could use some unzipping. Depending on the choice that you have made in your BIOS, you either need to carry out the steps to create a bootable floppy, or the steps to create a bootable cdrom.

Instructions for the boot disk (floppy)

Once unzipped, you'll have 3 files : rawrite2.exe, install.bat and a .bin file. Put a blank, formatted floppy in your floppy drive and launch install.bat. That will create a bootable floppy from which you need to boot your pc (the one with the lost xp password).

The bootable cdrom

The unzipped file delivers a .iso file that you need to burn to a cd with your cd burner software. That creates a bootable cd to boot your pc (again, the one with the lost xp password).

Time to fix that lost xp password

Shortly after you boot your computer from the floppy or cd you'll have an intimidating screen filled with text staring you in the face.

Like this :

Lost XP Password

There's no need to feel overwhelmed. In order to reset your lost xp password you need to go through some questions in a number of steps. In each step the program offers a default answer. Usually these defaults are ok and you just need to press ENTER.

Step 1 : Select the disk where the Windows XP installation is.


Step 2 : Select PATH and registry files. For most Windows installations you can safely accept the defaults.


Step 3 : Password or registry edit. Select "Edit user data and passwords" - the default. After that you need to choose the user account. The program defaults to "Administrator", so you need to type the name of the user with the lost xp password if it's not the administrator account that you're trying to unlock. Once you've made clear which user account's lost xp password you want to reset, you need to supply the new password. To finish it off confirm the password change and type "!" to quit the user selection menu. Now type "q" (for quit) to continue with ...


Step 4 : Writing back changes. This step requires one more confirmation and then wants to know if you want another run. Answer with the defaults, remove the bootable floppy or cdrom and reboot your pc.

You should now be able to log on with your account and the new password.

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