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Forgot the administrator password?

What to do if a user cannot remember the administrator password.

Forgot the administrator password?
Adesh Rampat

The Windows 2000 installer sets up a default administrator account and prompts for a password. Thus, it's possible that the primary user of the system may forget that administrative password, or might not know it at all. That means the user cannot perform any administrative functions, such as applying configuration changes, or even installing a printer driver.

What can you do in such a case? First of all, it's always a good idea for you to have an account that is a member of the administrative group of that machine so that in the event of a forgotten password at least you would have an account to work with in order to try a couple of things.

But in the case where a user just can't get logged onto his machine for some routing work, try the following:

  • Ensure that you are not entering the password with CAPS lock on.
  • Use the account that has some administrative functions. Log on with that account, and change the password for the administrator account.
  • Be careful when you do this next procedure, because you will destroy user accounts when you do it. Log on with an account that has some administrative privileges. The objective is that you need to have read/write access to the system folder. Once you are in this folder, delete the file %systemroot%System32ConfigSAM; this folder contains all the user accounts.
  • Reboot, and now you have a new Administrator account with a blank password.

Please note: This procedure should not be done on a live server due to the fact that all user accounts will be deleted! The only way that this should be performed on a server is if there are adequate backup servers with user accounts.

Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association of Internet Professionals, the Institute for Network Professionals and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.

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