Retrieving A "Lost" XP Password

Kathy writes:

How do I locate my teenager’s password on Windows XP? When we got the new computer she set herself up as the administrator (password protected) and I have recently determined she has been in sites inappropriate for a teen. However, I can’t remove her as an administrator and limit what she can do on the computer without her password and she’s not talking.

One of the significant upgrades in Windows XP over previous versions of Windows was in the area of security. Unlike older versions of Windows, such as 98, you can not simply hit the ESC key to bypass the password. You must have both an actual username and password to get into the system.

This, of course, can cause situations where lack of a password keeps a legitimate user out, which is actually a pretty common problem.

Everything from situations such as yours to simply forgetting the password and the ever common companies that let an employee go can create the need to overcome the unknown password.

As I debated whether I should write a column on “how to break into a password protected computer,” it’s pretty obvious that malicious users can already use Google to find all kinds of technical exploits for mischievous activity, so I offer these suggestions for those with a legitimate need to gain access to a password protected system.

Because your teenager has the ability to access the system, you can reset the administrator’s password by using a built-in Windows utility if you can gain access to the keyboard and mouse after your teenager has logged into the system or if there is another administrator level user on the system.

To do this, click on the Start button then on Run and type “control userpasswords2″ (without the quotation marks) which will bring up a window with the title of “User Accounts.”

This window should list all of the existing users along with an option at the bottom for resetting the Administrators password. Unlike the standard User Accounts interface in the Control Panel, this process does not require you to know the current password (as long as you are logged in on an administrator level account).

If this is not an option, the next possibility of “guessing” her password might be made easier if she created a password hint. The password hint is located on the Welcome screen beside the password prompt.

If her intent was to keep you out, neither of these options is likely to be much help, so you will likely need to get technical.

A number of folks have written programs that will allow you to reset or reveal the password, but you will need to know how to make a bootable disk. If this term is not something that you are familiar with, it is probably best to get a technical friend involved or seek professional help.

If you are comfortable with creating and using boot disks as well as working with the Windows command line, you can look up a free utility from a gentleman in Norway by the name of Petter Nordahl.

Search for “Offline NT Password” in Google and the first couple of links should direct you to the technical resources posted here for regaining access to your system.

[tags]lost xp pass,retrieve xp pass,control userpasswords2,offline nt password,petter nordahl,[/tags]

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  • Trent

    Just use Its easy to use and I used it to recover my password. Here is an easy alternate method. When you boot up your computer press F8 until you get to a black and white screen with choices. Choose to start up in safe mode. Then wait. When the login screen comes up there will be a user named Administrator. Click on it. It does not require a password. Click to continue working in safe mode. Your now in. Just go and change the password. That way you can restart login under the new password and change the account.

  • Jahnese


  • paul hwu

    I need help. I have a Compaq laptop using Windows XP Home and forgot my password for windows. I am both “administrator” and the user. There is nobody else registered for windows for my laptop. Please help. I have the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) v. 3.4 and do not know how to use it to get my password back or reset for windows xp. Please email me at chung_hsia@hotmail. If donation is needed, I will provide after successfully resetting my windows password. Thanks.

  • rob

    What happens when a friend setup ur computer and they set it to something they think they will remember and all that happens You end up locked-out.
    Such as what has happend to me i havent touched the computer inquestion for some time.
    I cant even remember what he had for admin user,(What do you pratel i do next besides jump up and down in the air hooping it might do something good).
    Or will i have to get the whole thing wiped clean with new fresh windows

  • Lewis

    THANKS! very helpful!

  • Tom H

    This “control userpasswords” is cool, thanks, i have 3 kids and no telling how many times i have deleted profiles because i didnt know about this, this time i searched for an answer and POW here it is. my daughter thanks you and so do i.

  • Zane

    Me and My Wife had just moved into a new apartment, we decided to put some of our more sentimental gatherings in the manhole in the roof, we discovered an old bag, (obviosly from previos renters) inside the bag were 2 laptops and a home computer. we gave them to the police, but no one picked them up so as you know, we got them back. there locked down like fort knox, and we want to use them for our home company. Anyone with any ideas please contact me as soon as posible.

    Thankyou Zane

  • Graham

    Zane …. depending on how the system is locked down get hold of a XP disk (+ code should be on laptop) and put it in the cd player as you switch it on and wait for the question to boot from cd …click any key and follow the instructions… Id reformat the HD and load a clean copy of XP on !!!! good luck…

  • kezero

    Last month , i lost my windows administrator password. I solved my problem with the help of windows password key. It worked perfectly to reset any local user account to a blank password. Just an easy to use bootable CD/DVD . It can also be used on a USB Flash Drive. You can download it from:

  • Zach

    I think the best method to recover windows password is using windows password recovery software. Burn the .iso file to a blank CD or a USB flash drive or a floppy disk, insert the CD(USB/floppy disk) into the problem computer and your password will be reset to “Blank” without losing any data and you needn’t reinstall windows OS.

  • Bob

    Windows Password Reset Kit 1.5 can help in such a situation. It is small yet very effective. It saved me before, and I must say it works perfect. Give it a try, you won’t regret using it.

  • Anonymous

    my best friend’s mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. she has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. read about it and get started following the first step “Online Income Solution” , here