My wife decided to change the password on her Windows 7 64-bit machine to something really clever to keep the kids off of her machine. I have taught her to write a highly encrypted password using strings of caps, lower case, numbers, and symbols. I have also taught her to use at least 16 characters so that it makes decrypting the password pretty tough.
Before beginning, you are going to need a blank DVD or blank flash drive and an internet connection.
Here is the solution:
You will need to download Ubuntu from http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop.
Whether you have the 64 bit version of Windows or 32 bit, download the 32 bit version of Ubuntu. Otherwise, you will not be able to reset the Windows password.
You will either need a blank DVD or flash drive to create your Live CD.
If you choose to install Linux on a flash drive, you will also need UNetBootIn. Once downloaded, open the program and choose from ISO. Check Diskimage. Select the location of your Ubuntu download and choose the location of your USB Drive. Click Ok.
Once you have the bootable disk, insert into the locked machine.
Change the boot options of the machine to the disk that you have Ubuntu on. From the options menu, select Try Ubuntu. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INSTALL UBUNTU ON THIS DISK AS ALL OF THE WINDOWS FILES WILL BE LOST!!!
For this tutorial, I am using Ubuntu 12.10 for my Live CD.
Once you have booted into the test version of Ubuntu, here are the steps to follow:
First, at the top left hand corner of the screen is Dash Home. Click into that and at the bottom you will see five icons. Click the second one for apps. Click Installed to see a list of all apps. Scroll down until you see Software Sources.
Select all options.
Next, you will need to download chntpw from https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/karmic/i386/chntpw/0.99.5-0+nmu1.
Click the to download it and save the file to your computer.
Before we open terminal, click the third icon on the left side of the screen to enter the Home Folder. Here we will mount the drive where windows is installed.
Find the directory to your Windows installation and click it once. Whenever you have mounted it, you will see the eject button appear beside it.
Now, open terminal (CTRL+ALT+T) to install chntpw. Type the following commands and press enter after each line:
sudo dpkg -i chntpw*
You should see that it has installed.
Close terminal and reopen terminal. Also, open Home Folder again. Hover your mouse over the Windows directory to see the exact location of it (should look similar to this – /media/ubuntu/%STRING/). Once you have the exact location, type the following into Terminal:
Typing ls will bring up the directories that you have mounted.
Type the following replacing %STRING with the name of your Windows directory.
Now we will use the chntpw tool to change the password. If you can’t remember the exact username for your windows account, no problem. You can retrieve it by entering:
sudo chntpw SAM
Here we can see the users for Windows.
Type q and press enter.
On my machine, my login is Scott. Type the following replacing Scott iwth your username.
sudo chntpw -u Scott SAM
Scroll up and check to see if the username you are working has dis/lock entered into the Lock field. If it does, enter 3 to unlock the user. In my case, my account is already unlocked so I will not have to enter 3 but on my wife’s machine I had to unlock the account. Now, my advice is to select 1 to disable the password.
Now type y and enter.
From terminal you can type:
Or simply click the power button to restart your computer. Unplug the flash drive or eject the disk before it shuts completely down to remove Ubuntu.
On my machine, because I am the only user, it booted straight into Windows without me having to choose a user. If there is more than one user account on your computer, you will have to select the account that you have unlocked.
Now go to control panel -> User Accounts and select the user account that you removed the password from. Enter a password for the user.
Reboot the machine again and you will have to enter your new password. Prior to rebooting, be sure to write down your password this time.