Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a number of Windows XP boxes left in my orgamization from a former system administrator. So I have no administrator passwords. How do I get administrator access to these boxes without reinstalling Windows?

P.S.: There's a neat solution "chroot with live cd" for linux, maybe there's something similar for Windows XP?

share|improve this question
You can download and burn 'sneaky russian', boot your machine and reset windows administrator password. – Nikolas Sakic Jun 23 '10 at 13:35

If these PCs are joined to a domain and their computer accounts are still valid, you can login using a domain admin account and reset any local passwords that way.

If they aren't on a domain, or their computer accounts have expired, been delete, etc. then you can try ntpasswd, a bootable utility for resetting passwords. It's Linux-based and has no fancy GUI, but it does work like a charm.

share|improve this answer
Plus, if they are domain machines, you can also use Group Policies to change the local admin password, without the need to log onto each one. – John Gardeniers Jun 23 '10 at 14:05
+1 for ntpasswd. Linux utility that exists on a lightweight live linux. I love it. – petrus Jul 20 '10 at 7:09
It has been a few years since I've needed to use it, but back then ntpasswd worked best by setting the password to blank, boot the machine and set the password within Windows, ymmv. – ManiacZX Jul 20 '10 at 7:35

We've used UBCD 4 for Windows. There's an option once booted to reset the local administrator password. I have provided the link below;

The program onced booted is called Sala Password Renew.


share|improve this answer
I've used this on many a system but today I ran into one where this could not get me to a working local login. The KON-boot program mentioned below allowed me to fake a domain login as the original user then add new local accounts in the Adminstrators group. – lcbrevard Nov 26 '11 at 23:32

I use Rescue Is Possible (RIP) Linux to boot the system. Create a directory under /mnt if one isn't already there, and mount the partition with Windows in it.

Change directory to /mnt//WINDOWS/system32/config (I think that's the directory, working from memory). It's the directory with a file called SAM.

Then run ntpasswd. The defaults should work to blank out the password (don't change it). Save changes, reboot to Windows, log in as local adminstrator with blank password.

Don't do this if it involves encryption on the system...

Then add a new password once you're in.

share|improve this answer

You could download the OPH Crack Live CD. It will actually let you recover the password so you don't have to use a boot CD on every single machine.

share|improve this answer
This didn't work for me because the password I needed was in the non-reachable corporate network AD/domain controller. See below where KON-boot let me in under those circumstances. – lcbrevard Nov 26 '11 at 23:31

Try the KON-boot LiveCD.

It modifies the kernel on the fly when booting and allows you to log in with a master password to the current system on the hard drive.

share|improve this answer
I had a corporate laptop that could no longer connect to the domain but ONLY had a domain login. My client left the company but kept the laptop. UBCD4WIN and normally work but some policy prevented Administrator login even with a reset password or creation of a new account. OPH Crack Live CD didn't work because the password was on the unreachable AD/Domain Controller. With KON-boot loaded ANY password allowed login to the domain account. Local administrator privilege (fortunately) allowed me to set Administrator and add two Administrators users. – lcbrevard Nov 26 '11 at 22:47

protected by splattne Aug 17 '10 at 6:46

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.