Monday, July 25, 2011

Recovering from lost password in Windows 7

Today I was presented with a problem on a HP Mini 100-1140 SA, with Windows 7 installed.
The machine is owned by a young lady whose IT interests stretch little, if at all, beyond Facebook and YouTube.
She had recently changed the password of her user account, but had been unable to recall precisely what it was.
As she is the only user, the machine became unusable.
A quick google introduced me to Bauer-Puntu linux and a nice explicative video which tells you how to use it to erase user (and Administrator) passwords in Windows 7.
What's more, it's absolutely free.

So, I downloaded the iso from the above link and burned it to a 2 GB USB key using Unetbootin.
Then I booted to the key on the HP Mini and Bauer Puntu opened.
After that it was just a matter of following what the guy says in the video which is as follows:

1. Go to Places and click on the HD or partition where Windows 7 is installed
2. Open a terminal and CD to /media
3. Use ls to find the "name" of the partition (all numbers)
4. CD to this partition
5. Then CD to Windows/System32/config
6. If the username of the account where you've lost the password is margaret, run the following command in this directory

chntpw -u margaret SAM

7. In the menu that opens select "1" (without quotes) to blank the password and then select "y" to create the hive files.
8. Reboot to Windows 7 where margaret's account should now open without any password input.
9. Once you're in the account, you can go to Control Panel>User Accounts to recreate a password for the account.

There are a lot more tools available in Bauer Puntu so it's very much worthwhile checking out the video.

It might be worthwhile to have a look at my follow-up post here.

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