If you are using any computer, you need a strong password to protect your important data. There is no point in using generic, easily guessed administrator passwords if you are not prepared to put your files and personal data at risk. It is important to keep a record of these passwords, because without them you will be left without access to your computer.
Of course, there are times when you might need to bypass a lost admin password If you were given an old computer with an existing account, you may not have the information you need to clean your computer and reuse it. To factory reset Windows 10 without administrator password, you need to follow these steps.
How to factory reset Windows 10 from the login screen
If you don’t have an administrator password for Windows PC, you can easily reset Windows 10 to factory settings from the login screen.
- In the lower right corner of the login screen, you will see options for changing network settings, accessing Windows accessibility options, or shutting down your computer. To start restarting your computer, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard. Hold down the key and press the “Restart” option in the power menu.
- This will restart Windows 10, but instead of booting the operating system normally, you will be presented with a boot options menu. Click the Troubleshoot button to continue.
- From the Troubleshoot menu, select Reset This PC.
- You can keep files or completely reset Windows 10 by deleting all files and settings. To keep your files, select the Keep My Files option. Otherwise, click Remove All.
This will start the reset process, and you may have to follow further onscreen instructions to proceed. Once the process is complete, you should be able to set up your Windows PC with a new account, completely bypassing the old administrator password.
Use Windows installation media to reset or reinstall Windows
The easiest way to factory reset your Windows 10 PC without an administrator password is to use the above method. However, if your computer is having problems, you can completely erase your hard drive using Windows installation media to reinstall or reset Windows.
You can download a Windows 10 installation disc image from the Microsoft website. It can be burned to a new DVD or burned to a USB stick. If you have a second Windows 10 PC, you can burn this ISO file to a USB stick using the Rufus flashing tool
Linux users can do this using WoeUSB, and macOS users can use the official Boot Camp Assistant app that is installed on all Mac devices.
- If you have the Windows 10 ISO file and the Rufus tool downloaded, open Rufus on a second Windows PC. Make sure USB is selected from the drop-down menu, then click the Select button to select the ISO file.
- Select the Windows 10 installation ISO file from the file selection menu, then click Open.
- Rufus will automatically change its settings to match the requirements for flashing a Windows bootable USB drive. When you’re happy with the settings, click the Start button to execute the flash. This will erase it, so be sure to back up any important files stored on it before starting.
- This will take some time. Once Rufus finishes flashing the USB drive, restart your computer to load the Windows setup screen. On the Windows setup screen, you will need to select the language to use during the installation process. You will also need to select a language for your time and currency, as well as a keyboard language. When you are ready to proceed, click the Next button.
- Click the Install Now button to begin the installation process.
- This step will download the Windows installation files. At this point, you may need to provide your Windows 10 product key to activate the installation, so enter that key here. If you don’t have a product key, enter the I don’t have a product key option. If you choose this option, you will need to activate Windows after the installation is complete.
- If available, select the version of Windows 10 you want to install, then click Next.
- You will then need to accept the Windows 10 License Agreement. Check the box next to “I accept the license terms”, then click “Next” to continue.
- The installer will detect an existing Windows installation. To bypass the administrator password, it’s best to select the Custom: Install Windows only (Advanced) option here. This will erase all files from your PC before reinstalling Windows.
- Select the drive for installing Windows in the next step. If you have multiple partitions, you may need to delete and recreate them first. Click Next to continue.
At this point Windows will start erasing your disk and copying files for a fresh installation. Windows will then reboot to begin the next step of the installation process, which will allow you to create a new user account after the process is complete so you can use your computer again.
Reset the admin password using manufacturer recovery files
Some PC and laptop manufacturers include a dedicated recovery disk that allows you to restore your installed Windows 10 to its factory defaults. This can usually be activated by restarting your computer and pressing a specific key on your keyboard during boot.
The key you press will differ depending on the device manufacturer. For example, some HP computers require you to press and hold the F11 key on your keyboard while the computer boots.
Each manufacturer has their own on-screen instructions on how to activate and start this process. Refer to your PC or laptop user manual for any specific instructions on how to use the recovery partition on your PC and to determine which key to press.
If your PC does not have a recovery partition, you will need to use one of the above methods to restore Windows 10 to factory settings.
Starting Over Again in Windows 10
Once you know how to reset Windows 10 without an administrator password, you’re ready to start over. Your first task is to use a password manager to help you generate a secure password for your PC. You can set up Windows without a Microsoft account, but you will lose access to some additional Windows features.
You can switch to passwordless sign-in in Windows 10 to be able to completely opt out of passwords. Once your computer is restarted and ready to use, you will need to think about new software that you need to install immediately, from a new web browser to antivirus, to keep your computer safe from malware