Another idiot computer question (passwords)

My mother – in a moment of momumentally idiotic decision-making when I wasn’t home four days ago-- turned on my computer and saw a pop-up screen that asked, “Your password will expire in 14 days – Do you want to change it?”

So she changed it.

My computer password. Without informing me. She also did not write it down, apparently.

Then she left town for three days.

She came back from out of town and visited me last night, just it time to watch me restart my computer and repeatedly enter a now-defunct password that failed to let me back inside. After laughing nervously at my growing irritation and puzzlement, she finally 'fessed up that she changed it. When I asked her what the new one was was… well. I suppose you can already guess her answer.

Bad news: I’ve tried 120 different Caps On and Caps Off variations of several passwords she’s suggested. None of 'em work.

More bad news: I’d upgraded to Windows 2000 NT Professional version last year. The first tech guy on the phone said, “Aw, you’re screwed, dude.” A second guy reinterated what the first guy said and suggested I’d need to wipe the drive just to get my computer functioning again.

News I’m just not sure if it’s good or bad: I have moved most of my files to a 60 GB E:/ drive I recently installed, but I’m not sure if shares the password with my original C:/ drive or not.

My questions to the Teeming Millions… What are my options?

P.S. Half-kidding: Would hypnosis help?

well first you can get another hard drive make it your main hard drive with an os and then take your previous main one as a secondary and dump all the files on to the now new main one. Format the secondary reinstall anything but windows me/2000 nt. or you can use the new main one as your main for as long as you wish. if this does not help or you need more details just email me or shoot back in the thread!

Last ditch effort~ is go to your locall sports shop or pawn shop and by a pistol or rifle and hone your targeting skills!

just depends on how technical you are and how technical you want get.

Scour the web for a Windows Adminstration Root Kit. Basically it’s a floppy that you put in and boot up. It boots in Linux on the floppy, which doesn’t deal with Windows passwords. That way you can reset the Administrator password on the Windows partitions of your harddrive.

In either case, bill your mom for your expenses and time.

Thanks for the replies.

the_duke_69: I’m not that technical. I’m vastly computer- ignorant compared to my much more tech-savvy friends, but I’m willing to learn.

I asked the first tech guy about reinstalling a non-ME O/S but – according to him – even if I was successful, my C: files would still be accessible only by Mom’s new password, and that there is virtually no possibility that I would be able to bypass the encrypted codes to get to those files again. I could try a data recovery service, but that charge as much as $200 per hour and most don’t guarantee results. He said, “Whatever’s in that C drive is gone.” His words. Now, if he’s wrong about that, GREAT. Just point me in the right direction.

Second tech guy added to my cheerful mood by suggesting that my 60 GB E: drive may only be accessible via the new password, too, and that the 45GBs’ worth of multimedia files, Mp3s and various jpegs and digital papers I had at last count would ALL be lost as well.

I haven’t called Microsoft’s technical service because I understand they charge, what, 1.95 a minute?

I was perfectly happy with Windows ME/NT until this happened (I really liked the thumbnails feature for all my image files) but I’d be willing to go back to Windows 98 in a second if all my file could this could be accessed again without data / programs loss.

He’s wrong. If you reset the Administrator password, you can reset ALL of the other user’s passwords on your computer to whatever you want, thus accessing the files normally. Go here: to get a Linux bootdisk that will allow you to reset your Windows password.

You won’t be installing anything on your computer. You are just booting off of a floppy, not into Windows. Therefore, you will be able to access the Windows drive from within Linux and reset the password. Once it’s reset, take the disk out and reboot. Windows will automatically come up normally, and you can log in using the password you set it to. Then, everything will be back to the way it was.

Quick question. Are you trying to log in as administrator or a different username? If you’ve been using something else, try administrator with a blank password. Also try it with your old password.

If that doesn’t work, use the reset tool that fatdave linked to. Once you’re on as administrator you can reset any user’s password by right-clicking My Computer, hitting Manage, expanding Local Users and Groups, selecting Users, right-clicking the user, and hitting Set Password.

Don’t panic. Don’t format either hard drive. You have not lost anything.

Yikes. She used your computer and changed a password without your knowledge or permission, and then neither told you about it nor freely 'fessed up when she saw you having problems? Please tell me you at least gave her the Glare of Death, or the Growl of Fury…

Possibly, but most likely not. Your mother would have to be willing, and have to be suggestible. Not everyone responds to hypnotic suggestion as well as the next person. Furthermore, hypnosis is a relaxation method. Under hypnosis, your mother might become relaxed enough that she will be able to calmly remember what she did three days ago. But there’s no magical mind-reading involved-- there’s no assurance whatsoever that anything will be accomplished. You’d also need someone who knows what they’re doing-- hypnosis instructions from a book or off the Web won’t do it.

Besides, in the last three days, your mom went out of town, did stuff, and came back. That’s a lot of activity and planning to be doing. I’m not sure if she’d be able to remember something she did three days ago that wasn’t trip-related.

The saga continues. Quick responses.

Number: Whenever I cut on my computer now, it goes through series of start ups until all I have is a blank screen and a small pop-up with Windows 2000 on it that asks for my password, just before it would ordinarily go to my desktop. The cancel button option is not highlighted. My username (AH) is already in place. All I do is type in the correct password. I’m not sure if that’s an administrator password or not. You’re not talking about the administrator and user passwords in BIOS when I hit f8 at start up, are you? The administrator password there is “not enabled,” although I did install I new user password.

Audrey K: I’d guessed as much. I also figured that unless she was inspired by a physical object or sequence of confluent events (looking at a painting in my room, listening to a CD, hearing a song, whimsically basing the password on it) – something that might be recreated in my apartment and jog her memory – it wouldn’t work. I mean, it’s been six days since she changed it (she only got BACK two days ago) and my feeling is if she hasn’t remembered it by now, she won’t.

fatdave, that webpage link is restricted on my school’s network. I can’t even view the page. But I will try it as soon as I can access a computer that will let me download it.

Thanks again!

No, not the BIOS password. Click in the Username box and backspace out “AH”. Type in “administrator” instead. Leave the password blank and hit OK. If it doesn’t accept that, type in the password you used with AH until your mom changed it.

I am pretty sure that windows XP does not actually encrypt the data on the hard drive. So the data is definitely not gone in that sense.

Another suggestion. Get a new hard drive and install windows on it. Make yourself administrator. Put your old C drive as the second hard drive and try accessing the data.

Depends if the drive’s formatted with NTFS, which is still an option when XP gets installed.

Back again.

Number: Username “administrator” did not work, neither with a blank nor my old password. I also tried all CAPS and first-letter Caps as variations. (Sigh) That would have been nice if it had.

fatdave: a friend of mine was supposed to make a Linux floppy from the web page link you posted last night and get it to me later today.

gazpacho: I have already tried switched my C: and E: drives, and that didn’t work. I may try purchasing a completely new hard drive with Windows 98 as the operating system if the floppy doesn’t work. Good news about the data itself not being encrypted. Thanks.

Kendo: What’s NTFS?

Desperate measures 1: I went through a long memory exercise with Mom the other night, in which she felt the password had something to do with “the ocean, a word like harmony or something else with a positive connotation, not as short as “ocean” or as long as “abundance”, not a food or an animal, not capital letter, and whatever she used, she added a 2 at the end of it, to represent the second power.”

Mom is NUTS.

Desperate measures 2: We played Scrabble for about an hour in the hopes that, in making up words, she might remember the password while we played. I won, 298 to 182. Best play of the night: “OPINIONS” on a triple word score and bonus 50 points, right after I dumped the three Us I had. Did not help her remember diddly-squat but it improved my mood considerably.

Desperate measures 3: My Mom called me up all excited about some kind of web-based service she found that promises they can somehow get me back into my system for $150. When I asked her how they planned to do that, she said, “Well, technically, I think they’re some kind of hackers.” I made a noncommittal noise since 1) I know she doesn’t have the $150 and 2) my computers’ not online now, anyway. But is this idea as god-awful bad as I think it is? Or much worse?

Everyone I know is amazed my Mom changed and then forgot the password. Everyone I know is amazed I haven’t screamed bloody murder at my Mom yet. No-one’s amazement even approaches the sheer disbelief I still have. It’s like my Mom has suddenly turned into this bubbleheaded, irresponsible teenager I have no control over.

Don’t pay $150. I bet you could get a doper to drive out and fix it for much less than that.

Hmmm. I thought this would be a nice challenge but come to think of it, all I did was start:H XP & then input ‘password’ & got this:

"To access the computer through a password reset disk
If you made a password reset disk through the Forgotten Password Wizard, you can use it to access the computer, even if you have forgotten your password.

On the Welcome screen, click your user name, and then click the question mark button.
The Did you forget your password message appears.

Click use your password reset disk to start the Password Reset Wizard.
Follow the instructions in the Password Reset Wizard to create a new password.
Type the new password, and then store your password reset disk in a safe place in case you need it to reset your password in the future. You do not need to make a new password reset disk.
For overview information about the Forgotten Password Wizard and the Password Reset Wizard, and for instructions for creating the Password Reset Disk, click Related Topics.


The Forgotten Password Wizard helps you access the computer and recover your personalized computer settings if you forget your password. "

Do you have any other accounts with administrator rights on the computer?

Number: Lord knows I’d like that. That’s why I’m here!

handy: a key part of the message is, " …IF you made a password reset disk…" which I didn’t, so I don’t think this would work, since it sounds like you have to install the Wizard first. But this might be a good preventive measure if (when?) I get my computer working again.

Urban Ranger: I don’t think I have ANY accounts with administrative rights on my computer. But maybe I’m wrong. I have a Gateway 2000 with Time / Warner cable internet connection, Outlook Express, no newgroups. When I surf KaZaA I limit access to my files to one small folder on my C: drive.

I’m leaving now to finally try fatdave’s Linux floppy solution.

Are you saying that the other file system besides NTFS encrypts the data? I don’t believe that this is true. The data can be recovered unless it is encrypted.

I don’t like to publicize this site (even though it’s legit), but you might try going to Join their discussion board and ask your question. You’ll get an answer and they might even have the necessary software on their site.

NTFS is NT File System. If the drive is not NTFS but FAT (File AllocationTable) you can boot off a DOS disc and delete C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SAM which contains the administrator password. It will now be blank.

If it is NTFS follow the directions here to recover the password.