Log on to Windows XP Using the Default Blank Administrator Password
Here is a simple way to access Windows XP with Administrator rights and privileges if you have password protected your User account on your Windows XP system and can't remember the password(s) to login. Whenever Windows XP is installed on a system, it creates a default account called "Administrator" and by default this account is not password protected. Therefore, if you bought a brand name computer (such as Dell, HP, Compaq or Sony)or you have installed Windows XP yourself. You should be able to login to the computer through the unprotected Administrator account. When you installed Windows XP (or when the people who sold you the computer installed it), it created an administrative account automatically. This account has NO password by default, and can be used to access everything in the computer. By accessing it, you can change any password on the system.
- Reboot your machine.
- Press F8 before the Windows boot screen appears. Do not press F5 as used on the NT/9x versions of Windows. You will be be prompted with a boot options menu.
- Select the Start Windows in Safe Mode option.
- Click through several self-explanatory screens until your reach the familiar 'Welcome' screen.
- Note that this welcome screen is limited to 256 colors and 640x480 resolution because the primary graphics will have been set to the Windows Safe Mode software VGA adapter. You will not be able to change this mode even in Display options, while Windows is running in Safe Mode.
- Find the icon for the Administrator user. If the default settings of your system haven't been changed, there should be no password for this account.
- The Safe Mode Welcome screen might display some of the other users on your system.
- Press Yes at the prompt asking if you would like to continue using Safe Mode.
- Open up the command shell. Press START, click RUN, and type in CMD, press ENTER. This will bring up a window likely unfamiliar to you. This is the command line, it allows you to manage files or change settings without restriction (no restriction on the administrative account). Before the graphical environment of Windows, this is what Microsoft users used.
- Change the password of the account. Type in (without the quotes, and yes, the asterisk (*) is necessary) "net user (username) *". It will ask you to type in a password, then to retype it. You just changed the password!
- Log in. Exit the command shell dialogue, don't type in anything else if you don't know what you're doing, you could really hose down your computer. Log out of the administrative account, then log back in to your account with the new password.
- Reboot your computer. As long as you don't press any keys (e.g. F8) during the boot-up the computer will start up normally.
- Login as the user for which you set the password.
- A much simpler method is simply to rename or delete the SAM file (renaming is safer). For this you need to boot the box using some other operating system on a CD and then mount the drive (otherwise Windows locks the SAM file and won't let you touch it). NTFSDOS is also a good utility for this purpose. Find the SAM file and change the first character. After you reboot, all the accounts are still there, but they all have null passwords.
- Note: if you rename the SAM file on XP SP2, when you reboot, XP fails to initialize and forces you to reboot in safe mode. However when you boot into safe mode you get the same message, so don't try this method on XP SP2.
- You can access the Administrator account through the login prompt without logging into safe mode. If the computer utilizes the welcome screen instead of the standard NT domain login prompt, you can press Ctrl + Alt + Del twice to get to the login prompt. This is only true if you are running Windows XP Professional Edition. Windows XP Home Edition will also allow you to use this method to log on.
- The SysInternals ERD Commander product used to change the admin password seems to have been discontinued, however there are many other options out there for resetting the password so long as you are willing to spend a little money.
- Boot from the CD and select the locksmith option to change whatever password you like.
- There is a way to crack the windows "SAM" and system files. To retrieve the original passwords Monitor, you need a program such as LC5 installed on a computer, and the SAM file in C:\WINDOWS\system32\config. If LC5 is not installed on the computer that you forgot to, you need to install it with a disk through DOS, not Windows, because as soon as the hard drive starts windows it is using the file so you can't copy it.
- Some users are smart enough to password protect their Administrator account when they install windows. If that's the case, you'll have to know that password in order for this method to work.
- This whole process is pointless if you know the administrator's password as you can easily remove passwords without going into safe mode. Assuming that your PC only has one user profile with administrative powers.
- You must own the computer and be licensed to use the operating system. You must also have Administrative rights to the entire library of information on the disk. Otherwise accessing Windows Administrator and changing passwords could be construed as illegal entry and electronic trespass in a court of law. Use these instructions for ethical purposes only, please.
- This method may or may not work with machines running XP SP2, you will need to use safe mode with networking instead.
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