How to Change Your Forgotten Windows Password Using a Linux OS Disc

Yup! That’s right. Never thought it could be possible but it gave me the creeps when I successfully did it. The trick was actually maneuvered by a big-time geek and it’s just amazing how he was able to infuse the two opposing worlds of proprietary and open-source to work together. 😉 Just a disclaimer on the following steps — this is hardcore!

If ever you get this annoying error message just because AD struck you in a complete surprise:

You’ll surely try to find ways and means to get into your Windows working environment. However, as Windows is not at all that friendly to common users like you, you’ll soon learn that you’re just wasting too much time on something futile. So anyway, why not give this a shot? 🙂

1. Download a copy of Linux’ System Rescue CD and create an ISO image to a cd. You are free to use whatever burning application you have available in your computer.

2. After successfully creating the System Rescue CD, you’ll need to boot from it. (For real beginners: Insert the System Rescue CD into the optical drive (CD-ROM). Change the boot sequence of your drive to the optical drive in the computer’s System BIOS, save changes and restart. This should allow you to automatically boot to the disc inserted in the optical drive.)

3. Upon booting to the System Rescue CD, it will take you to a command prompt screen that looks like this:

4. Mount the hard drive using this command: ntfs-3g /dev/sda1 /mnt/windows -o force. (You can use the df -m command to verify that the drive is already mounted in the right drive. In this example, it is mounted on /mnt/windows.)

5. Change the directory into Windows/System32/config directory inside of the windows installation. Take note that the full path might differ depending on where the Windows folder installation was created. You can do that using this command: cd /mnt/windows/Windows/System32/config

6. The moment you get into that directory, you should be able to see a SAM file, which is where we will change the passwords.

7. In order to change the password, we will use the chntpw command. It’s more effective to use the -l argument first so all the usernames in the file will be listed out.

Command: chntpw -l

8. Add the -u argument with your username (kinda looks like the command below, the username used in the example is geek):

Command: chntpw -u geek SAM

This will take you to this screen:

9. At the prompt, type in your new password and don’t forget to press “y” when it prompts you to save.

10. By this time, your password should already be changed. Type the command reboot to restart the computer. Don’t forget to take the System Rescue disc.

11. Go back to the system BIOS and revert back to your original boot sequence (set it back to the HDD as the 1st boot device). Upon booting up, you should be able to see this screen and should be able to login using your new password.

Have a fun time tweaking your Windows operated computer now! By the way, this works both in Windows XP and Vista operating systems. Ciao! 😉



2 Responses to “How to Change Your Forgotten Windows Password Using a Linux OS Disc”

  1. ubuntucat Says:

    If you happen to have a Ubuntu CD handy, you can do that without all the manual mounting from the command-line:

  2. drottenapple Says:

    I believe so….thanks ubuntucat. Do you have a “how-to on” that? Please share. 😉

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