Radu Cotescu's professional blog

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Resetting Windows Passwords for Every User

I am sure that you all wondered sometime how can a Windows password be broken with physical access to the machine. I know this isn’t quite hacking, but it is a useful thing in many situations:

  • you have forgotten your administrator password;

  • a zealous/envious system administrator didn’t want to give you the passwords after he left the company;

  • a company that has put together a system for you but was dismissed in the process refused to offer you the passwords for it.

And I am sure that there are many other “good” situations when you must get those passwords no matter what. For the record, I had to do this finding myself in the third situation (not me, but someone close…).Anyway, trying to find out if there is a secret and misterious way to boot Windows with administrator privileges - kind of like Linux’s single user mode - I discovered that this is not possible but that there are tools that can do this for you. Tools that run on Linux. On live Linux sessions.

The simplest and smallest distro to use for this particular job was the one made by Petter Nordahl-Hagen which can be found here. Just burn the distro on a rewritable CD (because it only has 3 MB) and boot the computer which, unfortunately, runs Windows from it. A text menu will help you achieve what you want. It shouldn’t take you more than 2 minutes.

Have fun and use it wisely!

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