Introduction: Recover Your Vista or XP Account Password With a Live CD

If you've ever forgotten your password to log in to a computer, you'll know how annoying it can be. By using this live CD, it can automatically decrypt the HASH file (The encrypted password) from your hard-drive, and give you your password. This works only for local accounts, not accounts that are on a network, like school user accounts, whose information is on a server.

All you'll need is a drive that can burn CD's (most computers made past 2000 would have one) and a blank CD. You'll also need the internet and enough download allocation to download 450 MB.

Kudos to T. Fairbank, who introduced me to the idea.

Disclaimer: Do NOT do this on a computer that is not your own. That would be bad. Also, please do not sell this idea to people, as many people do on the internet. Try to keep this running between people you know who may have this problem.

If you need any help or have any criticisms, especially on grammar and punctuation, they are much appreciated.

Thanks,
Stranoster.

P.S. Please refer to my other instructable if you are looking for a quick solution for XP only.

Step 1: Download the Image.

Firstly, head on over to the ophcrack website and on the homepage press download Ophcrack Live CD, as shown in the pictures. Then you have a choice between one that collects XP passwords or Vista passwords. Choose whichever is appropriate and then save it to your computer. It is approximately 450 MB, so it could take a while to download (about 45 minutes and up at 1.5 M). When it is done, you move onto burning.

Step 2: Burning the Image to a CD

If you know how to burn an image to a CD and have a program you prefer to use, please, just burn the image to a disc. If not, this is a free program you can use which is simple and small.

Go to the ImgBurn Website and click on the download tab on the top of the page. Then, choose any mirror from the list and download the program. It is approximately 2 MB, so shouldn't take long. After that, run the installer.

When you've installed the program, run it and choose the option on the top left, which is Write Image file to disc. This is shown in the second picture. After this, under the source heading shown in the third picture, press the browse icon and browse in the download directory for the file. Then just make sure the destination drive is the correct CD drive, insert a blank CD and make sure verify is ticked, then press the image which is underneath with a CD on a page, a right arrow and a CD. It should start to burn.

Step 3: Allowing the Computer to Boot From a CD

A computer has boot priorities, which is really just a list of places for it to look for boot files. It normally looks for a HDD (Hard Disk Drive), then a CD drive if it can't find the files and so on. All we are doing here is changing the CD to first, which won't normally affect the boot, unless you have a bootable disc in, in which case it will ask you to press a key to boot from it.

(A quick note: Some computers have a button listed that boots from CD, like some lenovo's, which ask you to choose a temporary boot device with the enter key)

To start with, when your computer turns on it should ask you to press a key or a number of keys to "enter setup" or "enter BIOS" or something along those lines. You need to press these. Some common ones are Delete, F1, F2, F10, Ctrl+alt+Enter or Ctrl+alt+Esc.

When you press them, it should now show a screen like one of the pictures below. It will either be in a tab like in the last image, or in Advanced features or Bios features. Follow your Bios instructions on how to rearrange the items. It normally uses + and - which move the item up and down the list. Move the CD Drive to the top of the list, followed by the Hard drive. Take note of the original order, and if the computer doesn't boot afterward, just arrange them in the original fashion.

Troubleshooting:
1. My keyboard won't work : Try using a PS2 keyboard (the type that isn't USB and has some pins in a circle)

Step 4: Boot the CD

Pop your CD in the Disc Drive nominated, or if you do not know which, try all of them. As your computer boots, it should say something along the lines of "If you want to boot from a CD, press any key now.......". If not turn it off and turn it on again with the cd already in the drive, or in another drive. If it boots correctly, it should come up with a screen like in the picture. If it is not automatically running, just press start in the top bar.

Now comes the easy part. Just sit back and wait for the progress bar to finish at the bottom. Then if you look in the NT Pwd list, your password should be there, in the list with your username.

After you have the password you need, you can simply press on the section like the start menu and select turn off, or something similar and it should shut down the computer. Then just switch back the priorities if you'd like and then You're Done!

Step 5: Enjoy!

Hopefully, this will have solved your password woes. Sorry if you were daunted by the amount of text, but I tried to cover most eventualities and problems. Please refer to my other instructable if you are looking for a quick solution for XP only

Thanks to T. Fairbank again, for the help in finding an easy to use live CD.

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Bio: I dunno... I like school unlike a lot of people and love science and mechanics. I remember playing Gizmo's and Gadgets when I was ... More »
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