How to reset a lost/forgotten Windows XP password

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If you have either lost or forgotten a Windows XP password and do not have a passowrd reset diskette all is not lost. Assuming that you still have your Windows XP installation CD, you can reset your password without having to completely re-install.

These steps involve the use of the Windows XP Restore feature. This process will restore key operatring system files, but will leave any applications or data installed on the system fully intact.

To reset a password, carefully follow these steps:


Step 1 - Make sure the system is configured to boot from the CD-ROM Drive

Check the BIOS settings on your PC to make sure that the CD-ROM or DVD drive appear before the hard drive in the boot order. Accessing the BIOS settingts varies between computers. The best way to find out how to access the BIOS configuration utility is to re-boot your computer and read the instructions that are displayed (typically it will say something like "Press ESC to enter BIOS setup"). Once in the BIOS setup screen, change the boot order so that the CDROM/DVD device appears before the hard drive.

Step 2 - Boot from the Windows XP CD-ROM

Insert the Windows XP CD-ROM into the drive and boot the system. If you are prompted to press any key to boot from the CD-ROM press a key. Once the system has booted and the initial installation screen appears, follow these steps:

1. Press <ENTER> (there is also an option to press "R" for restore - Do not press "R")

2. In the Licensing screen press F8

Step 3 - Performing the Restore

After the Licensing screen, a screen will appear listing the Windows installation on your system. If you have more than one select the installation containing the account for which you wish to reset the password and press the "R" key to begin the restoration process.

The restore process will begin. After this phase of the restore is complete the system will reboot.

Step 4 - Resetting the password

The system will reboot to the GUI and begin the installation process. Watch this process carefully. When you see a progress bar entitled Installing Devices press Shift-F10.

Windows will now display a command prompt window. In this window run the following command:


In the resulting account management screen, select the user you need to change and select the Change Password option. Once you have changed the password, close the account management screen and the command prompt dialog and allow the installation to complete.

Step 5 - Logging in

When the Windows login screen appears login, using the new password. Note that all your files and applications are still intact.

You have successfully reset your password.