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reset windows administrator password

In the event you forget/ lose/ neglect to write down the administrator password on a Windows machine (this is confirmed working on Server 2012 but should work on most versions) below are the steps required to reset the password.

Reset the Password:

  • Boot from a Linux key or attach the server’s disk as a secondary/ external drive to a computer.
  • Rename c:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe to something (e.g. Utilman.old)
  • Duplicate c:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe and rename the new file Utilman.exe
  • Reboot the server
  • At the login screen hit Win Key + U to bring up the Utilman.exe (now really cmd.exe)
  • At the command prompt type the following:

net user administrator NewPassword

  • Login to confirm working

Once new password is set, undo changes made:

  • Reboot back into the Linux key or attach the disk as an external again.
  • Delete c:\Windows\System32\Utilman.exe
  • Rename c:\Windows\System32\Utilman.old to Utilman.exe
  • Reboot, at the login screen Win Key + U should now bring up the Utility Manager
  • You should now be able to log onto the machine with your administrator/ NewPassword credentials.