Ever been unable to log into Windows due to a lost password? This used to require a reinstall of the operating system to regain access. This often meant some data would be lost, as it could no longer be accessed.
Because of this common need to recover passwords, a few tools have been created to get past this problem. I once heard of a program called Ophcrack, but it looked a bit tricky to use.
A tool called PC Login Now was recently made available as freeware, so I tried it out. The download is an iso file that needs to be burnt to a CD, using just about any CD burning software. The result is a Linux Live CD. Restart your computer and ensure that the computer will boot from your CD drive first (most will by default). Watch the Linux Live CD boot to life.
PC Login Now will work with any Windows install, and it can even handle dual boot machines. The opening screen shows you the operating systems available on the computer. Select the operating system you want to tinker with and press next. You should now be able to see all of the user accounts for that system.
You can then reset the password of any account, as well as enable or disable accounts. You can pretty much perform any of the basic user account options available in Windows. This program does not show you the old password as some tools do, but resetting the password is just as useful in most circumstances.
Once your computer reboots, a disk check will be run. When prompted, try to login leaving the password blank. You should be able to get into the system. PC Login Now claims a 100% success rate, and so far I have had no failures on the 3 machines I have tested. It couldn’t be quicker or easier to use.
This will not work for computers which login to a domain, but there is normally a local user account on these computers, which you can use to gain access.
Take some caution using this in the workplace as many companies don’t like these tools.
PC Login Now 2.0 is available for free from pcloginnow.com.