Reset Admin Password (Windows XP)?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Bill F. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Thanks for your article on how to reset the admin password for Windows 7 and 8. I have an old Windows XP machine and can't login because I lost my password. Do you have similar steps on how to reset the admin password for Windows XP? "

My response:

The steps to reset the administrator password for Windows XP is different than what what was previously described in the article for Windows 7 and 8. Note that if you can login as the "Administrator" user, you can also use this account to reset any user password on the system. So, the steps below can be used to reset any user password, and not just the admin account.

That said: there are a number of ways to reset the admin password in Windows XP, and many third party utilities will do it as well. In this article, I'll explain the easiest methods to use, and I'll assume you don't have a Windows XP password reset disk (as most people don't usually have that available).

Method #1: Reset Password using XP Hidden Admin Account

By far the easiest way to reset a user password is by using the hidden administrator user in Windows XP. The hidden admin account can be accessed from Safe Mode or from the standard boot / welcome screen. Here are the steps:

1. Boot your Windows XP computer normally. When you see the welcome screen, press CTRL + ALT + DEL to bring up the classic Windows login prompt.

2. For the user name, type in "Administrator" (no quotes). For password, leave blank and press OK.

3. After you've logged in as the Administrator user, go to the Control Panel and select Users. Then, select the user you want to reset your password for. Log off as "Administrator" and you should be able to sign in as normal.

Method #2: Reset Password Using the "Net User" Command

Assuming you are already logged into the Windows XP machine as a user with administrator access privileges, you can now reset any user password using the following commands:

1. Click Start -> Run, and type in "cmd" (no quotes) and press enter.

2. At the command prompt window, enter in the following commands:

net user "user name" newPassword

Note: Use quotes around user name; do NOT include spaces for the password. You can also run "net user" command by itself without specifying a user name and password and it will output a list of users on the system.

Method #3: Reset Password Using the "Nusrmgr.cpl" Exploit

This method assumes you have a Windows XP install CD, and the exploit must be executed at the proper time. Here are the steps:

1. Power on the Windows XP machine and insert the Windows XP disc in the CD ROM drive. When prompted, press the spacebar to boot from CD.

2. Accept the EULA (end user license agreement). On the proceeding blue install screen, press R for Repair (instead of a regular Windows install).

3. Setup will copy some files over to your hard drive and then restart your computer. IMPORTANT: after reboot, it will say "Press any key to boot from CD..." Do NOT press a key at this point, otherwise the Windows XP CD will boot and the process will start at the beginning again.

4. A graphical blue Windows XP install screen will appear with a list of tasks on the left of the screen, and a green progress bar underneath. The list of tasks includes: Collecting Information, Dynamic Update, Preparing Installation, Installing Windows, and Finalizing Installation. IMPORTANT: when the task "Installing Windows" is active, look carefully (underneath) at the green progress bar. When it says "Installing Devices..." press SHIFT + F10 on they keyboard. Timing is critical! This will now bring up a command prompt; enter in the following command:


5. A "User Accounts" window will appear on the screen. Select the user you want to reset the password for, then click OK. When finished, reset the computer and you should be able to login as normal.

Method #4: Bootable Password Recovery CDs

There are many bootable password recovery CDs available that you can download off the Internet. Hiren's Boot CD (hbcd) and Ultimate Boot CD (ubcd) both contain Offline NT Password & Registry Editor that will reset passwords, though the steps are somewhat convoluted and technical. Anyone else that knows a freeware utility to reset admin passwords in Windows XP is welcome to chime in.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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blueboxer2's picture

There is another rescue disc floating around called "Falcon F4" that includes both a version of UBCD4WIN and Hiren's rescue collection, among other things. I've only viewed it briefly and it seems mostly for Windows 7 restorations, but many of the utilities included should work with XP as well. Microsoft offers its own collection of repair utilities for which a third party has made a front end, but I'm still getting that to work so it has to be "details to follow" (some year). I think that I got the original leads from Neat Net Tricks so they should appear in the archives of the now-discontinued newsletter. Unfortunately I haven't time to dig them out right now but with the internet, knowledge they exist may be adequate.