Computer repair tip: Hacking into Windows
I’ve had to use this method several times to reset various user passwords when someone forgot their password. It’s handy when it’s your kids computer that they have you locked out and you want to see what they are doing (as a concerned parent), or you are an employer and a past (disgruntled) employee changed the password and you need to reset it. (Easy there techies…I’m talking about a business computer not on a domain server where you can’t easily change the password for that user from the server).
I’ve had to use this where we had to switch domains by first removing it from the existing domain, which meant we had to login as the local administrator, and then join the new domain. No one knew the password for the local administrator account, so we had to hack in. Here’s a couple easy methods:
- Gain access to the hard drive files via your preferred method. Bootable Linux CD, or pull the hard drive out and hookup to another computer via external cables.
- Rename the C:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe to Utilman.exe.bak
- Copy C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe to Utilman.exe
- Boot the computer normally now so you are at the login prompt.
- Press the Windows key and U. This will bring up the command prompt window.
- Type net user administrator password (password being whatever password you want). Press enter and the password has been changed.
- You can now login as the administrator. Just remember to delete the Utilman.exe you created and rename the original utilman.exe.bak to utilman.exe again (You must do this using the same method as above when you renamed them in the first place.
The easier method:
You can visit http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/ and download a bootable CD image. Burn the image to a CD and boot from that CD. You will go into a Unix interface where you can unlock any account, reset passwords, promote user privileges and more. Instructions are on their website.
If you have other methods you’ve used that are successful, especially for those laptops that have no CD drive and you don’t have access to a USB CD drive, and/or the laptop is not capable of booting from any CD drive! Leave a comment below.