How to Reset the Administrator Password

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Related: Security Annoyances: Password Resets

How to Reset the Administrator Password

I recently applied a couple of Microsoft Office 2000 patches on a Windows 2000 Professional machine. After rebooting the machine, I couldn't log on. Win2K rejected my password, although I hadn't changed it. I tried to use the Win2K setup CD-ROM to repair the installation, with no success. I then followed Darren Sykes's advice in Reader to Reader: "Lost Passwords," (April 2001). I was able to start the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Computer Management snap-in, but when I tried to set a new Administrator password, I received the error message Unable to change password. None of the Microsoft Windows 2000 Resource Kit's tools fixed the problem. I tried to create another account with Administrator rights, to no avail. I couldn't change anything related to user accounts.

I searched TechNet and finally found a solution. The Microsoft article "How to Identify the User Who Changed the Administrator Password" (;en-us;q173939) explains that Win2K and Windows NT store the Administrator password in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SAM\SAM\Domains\Account\Users\000001F4\F registry subkey. My machine boots into Win2K Pro and Win2K Server, so I started Win2K Server and reset the Administrator password to blank. Then, I launched regedt32, navigated to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SAM\SAM\Domains\Account\Users\000001F4\F registry subkey, and copied the value's contents. Next, I loaded Win2K Pro's SAM hive and pasted the copied data to the loaded SAM hive's HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\WIN2K\SAM\Domains\Account\Users\000001F4\F registry subkey. This action changed Win2K Pro's Administrator password to blank, and I was able to log on after rebooting.

TAGS: Security
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