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.
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.

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