Tuesday, July 3, 2012

5 Ways to Reset Your Computer Password

Have a password set up to log into Windows and can't remember it?  Perhaps you inherited a computer with a password already set up and have no idea what it is.  These are common problems and can usually be solved pretty easily.

There are generally 5 ways to reset a password on computers running Windows:
  1. Remove the CMOS battery on the Motherboard for a few seconds and replace it
  2. Use a jumper to clear the CMOS settings
  3. Log into the Admin account (if there is one) and rest the password
  4. Restore the computer back to Factory Settings.  
  5. Use a 3rd party software program (which typically costs money)
The first four methods listed above are free.  The last method is generally a software program you have to buy.  So I would recommend using one of the first four methods if you have to rest a computer password.

If you're comfortable working inside a computer case, then options 1 and 2 are usually pretty easy and quick (though you may need to refer to a manual to use option #2).  Working inside a computer case can be hazardous to the computer  though, so if you've never done it, or aren't comfortable, I would recommend not doing it yourself.   The biggest danger when working inside a computer case is discharging static to critical parts which can render the computer inoperable. 

Option #3 is a safer method of resetting the computer password.  Most computers today create a Admin account and hide it - this way it's there if needed later but doesn't interfere with the normal day to day operation of the computer for the user.  The best way to get into the Admin account is to boot the computer to SAFEMODE.  And the to do this, you need to restart the computer.  Follow the instructions below to boot the computer to Safemode:
  1. Make sure the computer is powered down (hold the power button in until it shuts off it's running)
  2. Turn the computer on, than hit the F8 key on the keyboard repeatedly until you get to a menu
  3. Chose the SAFEMODE option using the arrows on the keyboard and hit ENTER
If there is a hidden admin account, you should see it when Windows boot.  If there is one, click it to log in. If you don't see an Admin account, then you will have to use options 1, 2 or 4 to reset the computer password.

Assuming you can log into the Admin account (option #3), then resetting the computer password is easy.  Just open the CONTROL PANEL and then USER ACCOUNTS.   Then select the account name you want to reset the password for.  Once on that account, click CHANGE  PASSWORD.

The 4th option listed above, is generally a last resort option for resetting your computer password.   This is because Option #4 will erase your hard drive (and any data you had stored on it).

Most computers sold in the last 5 years have a copy of the operating system hidden on a partition of the hard drive.  Getting to can be easy or tricky depending on who made your computer.   If you have the user guide that came with your computer, it should tell you how to restore the computer back to factory settings.  If you don't have the user guide (or can't find it), you may be able to find it online at your manufacturer's web site. 

Be sure to watch the screen too when you first turn your computer on.  You may see a note about hitting certain keys (like F10, F11 or F12) to restore the computer settings.   On some computers, you have to hit the CTRL key in addition to one of the F-keys previously mentioned.  When in doubt, try all of the F-keys listed (with and without the CTRL key.

Hopefully one of the methods listed above will help your reset your computer password.