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After running sysprep to OOBE and generalize a master disk for cloning, at first run it prompted only for language/region and a machine name, then proceeded on to the CTRL+ALT+DELETE to login screen. It did not prompt for new administrator password.

The system had no local accounts except for the local administrator, which had been renamed. The administrator name and password used just before sysprep do not work.

How do I recover this? And why did it happen? Back up is old/stale, lose a lot of work if I can't get into this machine. Kicking myself for not backing up right before this procedure.

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I'm not even going to speculate about the SYSPREP process (I am frustrated by the seemingly over-engineered nightmare that SYSPREP became starting in Vista), but this NT offline password reset boot CD, assuming you have a support storage controller, should work fine: pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd –  Evan Anderson Jan 16 '13 at 22:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted
  • Boot up off of a bootable disk (such as the Windows installation media.)

  • If using the Windows installation media, boot up off it, and choose the option to launch a Command Prompt.

  • You're now running a Command Prompt as SYSTEM. Change to the directory of the computer's bootable hard drive.

  • Rename X:\Windows\System32\utilman.exe to X:\Windows\System32\utilman.bak.

  • Copy Windows\System32\cmd.exe to Windows\System32\utilman.exe, overwriting it.

  • Reboot.

  • Now at the logon screen, click the "Ease of Access" button that normally gives you the tools like onscreen keyboard, magnifier, etc.

  • Now you have a shell on the machine as SYSTEM, and the SAM is running. So time to reset your password.

  • Type net user Administrator * (or whatever you renamed the administrator to.) If you can't even remember the name of the Administrator, then create a new user and add it to the Administrators group.

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Solved! Thank you, up and running perfectly. BTW, sysprep had un-renamed the account back to Administrator. The only problem was that on first run it didn't prompt me to create a new password. –  Chris Jan 17 '13 at 1:04
    
Yep. Any time. And yes, un-renaming the Administrator account back to Administrator is part of generalization. :) –  Ryan Ries Jan 17 '13 at 3:57

After running Sysprep /oobe /generalize the local Administrator password is blank. After logging in for the first time you'll be immediately prompted to change the password.

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