Ask the Expert

Change a forgotten Windows password

I want to change my Windows password, but I can't remember it. How can I get around this?

Try Ophcrack. That will allow you to boot from a CD and crack the password on the fly. No fuss, no muss and it does work – at least for passwords that fall within the rainbow table parameters of 1 to 14 characters in length and composed of characters contained in this set:

0123456789abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ!"#$%&' ()*+,-./:;&<=>?@[]^_`{|}~ (including the space character)

If that doesn't work, a tool that's worked well for me is NTAccess which allows you to boot the system and reset the administrator password.

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More on this topic:

  • Password Hardening Journal
    One of the forgotten elements of a truly secure infrastructure is password security. If a hacker can break through your password defenses, he will have unchecked access to everything that an authorized user or even a network administrator has. Check out the pieces in this journal to find out how to secure your organization at this often overlooked password level.
  • How to Bypass BIOS Passwords
    BIOS passwords can be a liability if a user forgets his password. Here are a few tips and tricks that can help to bypass or reset the BIOS password on most systems.
  • How to crack a password
    In this tip find out how hackers exploit weaknesses so you know how to stop them
  • NetBIOS Auditing Tool
    Use this tool to crack passwords on Windows network shares

This was first published in June 2006

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