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Of course, you can always reset a password if you have another admin account for this machine. However, if this isn’t the case, things can get a bit tricky. As a sys admin you are usually confronted with this problem if users have laptops where you don’t have an admin account. Even if you don’t have to reset a password now, you should get acquainted with this issue. Rest assured that sooner or later a user will bug you with this problem. I must admit that I managed to forget my own password more than once.

Option 1: Create a password reset disk

Vista allows you to create a password reset disk which enables you to reset your password without much hassle. The problem with this option is that you have to create the reset disk before the password is lost. If you have many Windows machines where users logon locally, this might be a daunting task. You can find a description of how to create a password reset disk here.

Option 2: Get Petter Nordhal-Hagen’s NT Password & Registry Editor
With this option you have to boot from a CD and then manipulate the SAM database. Manipulating the SAM database is always a bit risky. But if you have no password reset disk, this is the only way. Note that this tool comes without any warranty. I’ve been using it quite a few times on Windows 2000 and had never any problem with it, though. The latest version also supports Windows Vista. The download link of the tool is a bit hidden. Search for “download” on this page, if you can’t find it.

Option 3: Get the commercial Password Changer
Password Changer essentially works like the NT Password & Registy Editor. An advantage of this tool is that you’ll get support if any problem arises. Based on Joseph Fiber’s description of the tool it might be a bit easier to use than Petter Nordhal-Hagen’s solution. This especially applies if you are not familiar with Linux. Prices start at $39.99.


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