I lost my password for Windows Sever 2008. Does anyone know how to reset the admin password?

  • Can you clarify if this is a local account or a domain account? – Wesley Feb 21 '10 at 2:58

You can reset or recover your password in a number of ways. The three most prominent that come to my mind are:

  1. Boot into a Linux Live CD and replace the magnify.exe tool with cmd.exe. Then reboot into Windows and reset the password after using the Accessibility tools that are available at the login screen. More information here: http://blogs.thecodearchitects.com/?p=196
  2. Use a password recovery tool like John the Ripper's Windows CD to brute force reveal the existing password: http://www.openwall.com/passwords/microsoft-windows-nt-2000-xp-2003-vista
  3. Use a pasword reset utility such as the ones found on the Ultimate Boot CD. Be warned, however, that utilities which attempt to replace passwords from a boot environment have been known to cause more problems than they are worth.
  • Thanks for the help everyone. I'm going to test this on a VM before I do it on the live server. – Jule Feb 21 '10 at 6:36
  • your blog link is no longer active... is there another reference? – James Mertz Feb 7 '11 at 15:08
  • @KronoS I couldn't find a good substitute so I'm making my own tutorial. I'll link it when it's done. – Wesley Feb 15 '11 at 19:24
  • Don't forget the Wayback Machine! web.archive.org/web/20100124122053/http://…? – Skyhawk Dec 8 '11 at 15:34

From another admin account net user UserName NewPassword

Or you can use one of the many bootable NTFS password reset utilities

This assumes that the machine is in a workgroup and not a domain.


Edit: never mind, i like the magnify.exe switcheroo trick. Although i'm particularly partial to this one if the target has a firewire port

If you know your directory services restore mode password, you can that to change the administrator password, this password is supplied at install time.

Press F8 during the textmode boot phase and select Directory Services Restore Mode.

Failing that, if you're on a domain, you'll probably have to rebuild the pdc and active directory domain.

If that is the case, consider its a lesson the hard way.

  1. Can't stress enough the importance of regular backups, and testing those backups semi-regularly. We all know its a PITA but it will save a much bigger pain. I'd also avoid ntbackup.
  2. Document everything. Update it when you change anything. It's all about dotting your i's and crossing your t's.