Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Preventing password lockout

The world of computers is not immune from Murphy’s Law, and unfortunate things do occur. And people are fallible– as some well-known wit from days gone by said, “to err is human.” We lose things; mishandle things; and forget things. When Murphy strikes or we commit some foible on our computers, we can lose our work… which is frustrating. If we forget our user password, we lock ourselves out of our machine altogether… which causes feelings a little more intense than mere frustration!

Tip of the day: Save your bacon and prevent password lockout by creating a password reset disk — and do it before it’s needed.
The official Microsoft method for dealing with forgotten login passwords (all versions of Windows) is to create a password reset disk, and then use this disk should you ever forget your password and lock yourself out. Creating the reset disk is easy; all you need is a blank floppy disk*.
1) Access the User Accounts applet in your Control Panel by clicking Start >Control Panel >User Accounts.
2) Then click on your user account.
cpua.jpg
3) Click on the “Create a password reset disk” link.
This will open the Prevent Forgotten Passwords Wizard which will ask you to enter your password and then will create the disk. When the wizard finishes, label the floppy, and store it in some place other than right next to your computer… as anyone who has it could use it to access your stuff.
fpwiz.jpg

One “cool” feature of the password reset disk is you only need to make it once. As I have stated in my Top 10 Things You Should Do To Your Computer article, it is very good practice to change your passwords every so often. Doing so will not affect the password reset disk you made — in other words, you do not need to keep making new disks. Make one, and you’re good.

***This is all well and good, and I applaud Microsoft for providing an easy method for the owners of the computer to prevent lockout: However, as some of you may already be saying to yourselves, the floppy disk is a dead technology. It has been dead for years and most modern machines don’t even have one!
Unless you’re still working on a Stone Age-era computer, this article/method is useless to you.

So why is Vista, which practically demands a new machine, which practically guarantees there’ll be no floppy drive, still dependent on this technique for password reset? Can someone at Microsoft kindly explain? Please? Seriously…pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top?
This.. faux pas strikes me as pretty dumb.

Fortunately, if your machine does not have a useless floppy drive (1.4 Megabytes?! Come on.) there are other techniques for getting back in to your machine. Sadly, those methods will (typically) cost you some money, or data; so I strongly advise people to password protect their User Accounts and write down their password/login on a piece of paper (and store it someplace other than right next to your computer).

Today’s free link: Well.. shoot. I’ve worked myself up into such a snit, writing this article, that I just can’t think of one right now… Sorry folks. Tune in again tomorrow, and I promise there’ll be a great one here again.

Copyright © 2007-8. Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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January 22, 2008 - Posted by | advice, computers, how to, passwords, PC, security, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. For some companies password lockout problem is very common and vital thing.
    More than a half of all requests to helpdesk stuff are password reset related.
    It was a really big pain for us as well. But the solution had been found quite recently. We implemented desktop authority password self service from scriptlogic.
    It solved the main problem – now users can easily reset their passwords themselves just by answering several challenging questions without extra disturbing of helpdesk specialists.

    Comment by Klive | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Folks–
    The program Klive mentions is an Enterprise business tool (as in Active Directory domains)… not applicable to “regular folks”.

    Comment by techpaul | March 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. Fortunately, if your machine does not have a useless floppy drive (1.4 Megabytes?! Come on.) there are other techniques for getting back in to your machine. Sadly, those methods will (typically) cost you some money, or data

    A Linux live CD is free, and doesn’t cost you data. It also lets you do far more than just reset your password.

    Comment by A.Y. Siu | August 10, 2008 | Reply

  4. Folks–
    Mr. Siu is referring to the fact that most Linux “distros” are burned to CD, and the these CD’s are “live”.. meaning they are ‘bootable’, and load an operating system into memory.
    This allows you try (use) Linux without partitioning your hard-drive (or other re-Format-ing) and installing all the system files.

    Linux comes loaded with tools that allow advanced users to do many things, including access/read the files on your hard drive, and repair tecnicians (such as myself) often use a “boot CD” when working on crippled systems. Oftentimes, that CD is a Linux disk. (A Tech favorite is Knoppix.)

    Mr. Siu included this link in his post (which I don’t allow) to (his?) a tutorial on how to use the very popular Linux Distro Ubunto to do this.. if you want some idea of what’s involved.
    http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntucat/how-to-reset-a-windows-xp-password-with-ubuntu/

    Comment by techpaul | August 10, 2008 | Reply

  5. Great tutorial! Just a few days ago I forgot my admin password but I don’t have a password reset disk. Eventually I regain access to my computer by removing the password using [deleted], which is a software from [deleted]. While this software is not free, for [deleted] it was well worth it in time.

    Comment by Steve | February 25, 2014 | Reply

    • Steve,
      I deleted your particular software title, as I do not promote, or publish, tools/methods for bypassing passwords. I will say to readers that such things do exist (which is why the hacker saying goes “if i can touch it, I pwn it”) both free and for-pay.

      It is my policy, here, to recommend to anyone who locks themselves out of their computer to take it to a tech. Their fee should be minimal; and you should regain the password, not remove it.

      Comment by techpaul | February 25, 2014 | Reply


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