Forgotten your Windows password?

It is every Windows users nightmare: one day you try to log in and every attempt is denied. Whether you have forgotten your password or it has been changed or you need to get in and don't have the password, there are some tricks to break in.

Using no software or tools:

The first method to try is a bit of a Windows hack.

  • Take the battery out if you have a laptop and plug in the mains
  • Start windows and then whilst it is starting up, pull the power out to force an automatic startup repair on the next boot
  • When it restarts you will see the Windows Error Recovery
 
 
  • If you see a screen which gives you the safe boot options, just keep trying and eventually it will give you the above screen
  • Select Launch Startup Repair (recommended)
  • Windows will then load files and begin the startup repair service
 
 
  • Wait for a few minutes, sometimes it can take a while, for a box to pop up saying "Do you want to restore your computer using System Restore?" and then click Cancel
  • Wait for another 5 to 10 minutes for a pop up to appear saying "Startup Repair cannot repair this computer automatically"
  • Click on View problem details
  • Select the final .txt link, usually addressed "X:\windows\system32\en-US\erofflps.txt"
  • Then, on notepad (viewing the .txt), go to File > Open
  • Go to C:\Windows\System32
  • Change Files of type: to All Files
  • Find sethc.exe amongst the files
  • Rename it to sethc1
  • Then find cmd
  • Right click on cmd and select copy, then rename cmd-copy to sethc
  • Close notepad and press cancel on Startup Repair to restart Windows
  • Let Windows start normally and wait until you see your user profile log on screen
  • Press shift 5 times quickly to open your renamed cmd.exe - now you can use the command prompt before logging on
  • In cmd, type net user to see a list of users
  • Choose your user and reset their password by typing net user USERNAME * (where USERNAME is the username taken from the list)
  • Type a new password for the user or just leave blank and press enter
  • You're in!

Using software

You can use a password cracker such as Ophcrack to create a live USB.

  • Download Ophcrack LiveCD ISO
  • Make a bootable CD by using a tool such as Daemon Tools or USB using something like Rufus
  • Boot to USB or CD on startup, usually pressing esc or F12 will pause startup and give you the boot options (not always though!)
  • Ophcrack will then automatically start trying to crack users passwords and display any successful cracks on screen. Make a note of them.
  • Restart, removing the Ophcrack media and use the password to log in!

Hopefully, you're in! Welcome back to Windows!

Computer Right