It happened to all of us at some point: you go to your computer, enter your password, and you get the message “Invalid password”. You try again, but nothing happens. Then you type it in very slowly to make sure you haven’t messed up a single character and it still doesn’t work!
You forgot your password! Forgetting your password is never fun, especially if you have a lot of important data on your computer. Fortunately, there are tools and techniques that allow you to access your data without even knowing what the original password was.
In this article, I will discuss the various ways that I have learned to restore access to a local account in Windows. Note that there is really no easy solution to this problem; you will have to open command lines, type strange things and pray a lot.
If you are using a Microsoft account, resetting your password is much easier! Just visit the Windows Live password reset page and follow the instructions.
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 password reset
There are actually two ways to reset the password for a user account in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Both methods work on both operating systems, which is really handy. The first method uses the Windows 7 or 8.1 installation DVD, and the second uses a third-party tool. If you don’t have an installation CD / DVD, use the second method.
Method 1 – Windows DVD
First method – Windows DVD
Take your Windows 7 or 8.1 installation disc and insert it into your CD / DVD drive. Restart your computer and boot from disk. Note that you may have to change the boot order in the BIOS before booting the system from disk.
For Windows 7, the first screen will prompt you to select your language, keyboard, etc. Just leave them as default and click Next. For Windows 8 it will be the same. On the next screen, at the bottom, you will see the Repair your computer link. Click on this link.
On the next screen for Windows 7, the system recovery options should find the Windows 7 you installed. Select the Use recovery tools radio button and click Next.
Finally, click on Command Prompt to open the Command Prompt. In Windows 8, after you click on Repair your computer, you will need to click on Troubleshoot.
Then click on Advanced Options at the bottom.
Finally, click on “Command Prompt” on the right.
You should now be taken to the Command Prompt regardless of whether you were using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Now we need to enter two simple commands.
copy c: windows system32 sethc.exe c: copy c: windows system32 cmd.exe c: windows system32 sethc.exe < / pre>
Don’t worry about what the commands are doing, just hope they work. If you get an error, such as cannot find the path, etc., use a different drive letter than C. For example, enter the same commands, but replace C: anywhere with D: . I had this problem on Windows 8.1 and solved it with D: . Close Command Prompt windows and select Continue if using Windows 8.1.
You can now restart your computer and not boot from DVD. Actually, after you run the commands, you can remove the disk and then reboot. When you get to the Windows logon screen, press the SHIFT key 5 times.
A command prompt window should appear at the top of the Windows 7 and 8.1 login screen. Here you must enter the last command to reset the password for the user account:
net user “User Name” newpassword
Note that you do not need to use quotes if the username is one word, like John. Since my username is two words, I had to use quotes. The password can be anything. Once you’ve done that, close the Command Prompt window and enter your new password to log into your account! Working!
Method 2 – Third Party Tool
The second method – the third-party tool
If you don’t have a Windows installation DVD, you can download a free tool called Offline Windows Password & Registry Editor Scroll down to the section labeled “Download” and select an ISO image or USB install. If you can boot your computer from a USB stick it will be easier as you will have to burn the ISO image to CD / DVD if you boot it.
Again, you will have to change the boot order on your computer to boot from CD / DVD or USB stick. When you download this tool, you will see the following screen. This method definitely looks a little more technical, but it’s actually not difficult. In most cases, you just need to hit Enter.
On this screen, just press Enter. You will see a lot of information scrolling across the screen and then it ends with a prompt for step 1, which is to select an installation. It should find it automatically, and there will be a Select:  button at the bottom. Just hit enter here too.
In step 2, you will be asked to choose which part of the registry you want to download. In our case, this is the option to reset the password [sam], which is equal to 1 and is already selected. So, just press Enter again.
In step 3, you have to choose which hive to work on. Again, the option we need, Edit User Data and Passwords, is 1, so just press Enter again. As I said, it looks intimidating, but basically it’s pressing the Enter key.
Finally, in step 4, we really need to enter something. Here we need to select the username for which we want to clear the password. Instead of entering the username itself, enter the RID value shown to the left of the desired username.
In my case, the RID associated with my username (Aseem Kishore) was 03e8. I typed 03e8 and hit Enter.
You will now be asked what you want to do with this user. The first option is Clear (blank) user password, so type 1 and press Enter. This time, make sure you are actually typing the number 1 and not just hitting Enter. It should be very fast and you will see something written that doesn’t make any sense. Don’t worry about all of this, just search for Password Cleared somewhere. If you don’t see it, don’t worry, go ahead.
We have one last thing to do before we finish. At the command prompt, enter q to exit, and then enter q again to exit again. After entering q a second time, you will see what is written there: Step 4 – Write Changes. You must enter y here to write the changes.
You have to make sure it says EDIT COMPLETE. So everything was written correctly. When it asks you if you want to do another run, enter n instead of no. You can now restart your computer by pressing CTRL + ALT + DELETE. You may need to eject a CD / DVD or USB drive to boot normally into Windows.
That’s all. If everything works fine, you should be able to log into Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 without a password!
Windows 10 password reset
The procedure for Windows 10 is very similar to the procedure for Windows 8, but requires slightly different commands. To get started, follow the instructions above for method 1 on Windows 7 and 8.1 until you get to the command prompt. Follow the instructions for Windows 8.1 as for Windows 10.
When you get to the command prompt, enter the following commands:
move d: windows system32 utilman.exe d: windows system32 utilman.exe.bak copy d: windows system32 cmd.exe d: windows system32 utilman.exe
Close Command Prompt and click Continue to start Windows normally. Remove the CD / DVD or USB drive before rebooting. On the login screen, you should click the easy access icon at the bottom. A command prompt window will open.
Now, in the Command Prompt window, we use the same command we used for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
net user username newpassword
Again, you will need to enclose the username in quotation marks if it contains more than one word. For example, if the username is Aseem Kishore, you would enter:
net user “Aseem Kishore” newpassword
Now close the Command Prompt window and just enter your new password and you will be logged into Windows 10! Surprisingly this trick works, but I tested it and it worked great.
Hopefully this brings you back to your Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10. Note: If you do not have an installation DVD, you can download them from Microsoft. Check out my previous post on legally booting Windows 7, 8, and 10. If you have questions, please leave a comment. Enjoy!