Section 16.4. Resetting Windows XP Passwords

16.4. Resetting Windows XP Passwords

If you're snuggled up on the couch , reading this section merely to bone up on your Windows knowledge, do yourself a favor: pop over to your computer and take the time to make yourself a Password Reset Disk. The disk works as a "key," letting you crawl back into your PC should you end up forgetting your password when facing Windows XP's Logon screen. To create your personalized Password Rest Disk, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Start Control Panel User Accounts .

    The User Accounts window appears, listing all the user accounts on your computer.

  2. Choose your user account's name , if it's not already selected .

    Click your user account pictureit's the same picture you see at the top of your Start menu.

  3. Click the "Prevent a forgotten password link" from the task pane along the window's left edge .

The Forgotten Password Wizard then appears, leading you through the steps necessary to create a floppy disk that provides access to your account during emergency states of forgetfulness. No floppy drive on your PC? The wizard won't let you slide in a CD, instead. However, if your PC has a memory card reader attached (Section 5.3), you can use a memory card, instead. A memory card reader also works with some brands of USB keychain drives , depending on their internal circuitry .

Once the wizard creates your Password Reset Disk, keep the disk (or memory card) handybut not too handy, as anybody who finds it can slip into your account.

But if you're desperately reading this section with neither password nor Password Reset Disk in hand, you're not completely locked out. If you or somebody else owns an administrator account on your PCa user account with additional powers and privileges, usually held by the PC's owneryou can remove the password from your (or any other) account by opening the Control Panel's User Accounts area, selecting an account, and then selecting "Remove the password."

Note: Resetting the password also prevents you from being able to access any encrypted files or email; you'll also have to log in anew to any Web sites whose passwords you've saved using Internet Explorer.

If you've forgotten the password to your PC's only administrator's account, you're still not out of options. Try either of these tricks, depending on whether you use Windows XP Home or Professional. (If you're unsure which breed of Windows lives on your PC, open the Start menu, right-click the My Computer icon, and choose Properties. You'll see your version listed in that page's System area.)

  • Windows XP Home . Restart (Start Turn Off Computer Restart) your PC. Press F8 repeatedly until the Boot Mode menu appears. (Boot Mode is a special way of starting Windows XP that offers additional troubleshooting options.) Start Windows XP in troubleshooting mode by choosing Safe Mode. When the Windows Logon screen appears, a new user account called Administrator appears at the top. Log on with that account, which rarely needs a password. Once youre in, reset the password on your user account.

  • Windows XP Professional . When Windows XP's Logon screen appears, press Ctrl+Alt+Del twice, quickly. Type "Administrator," leave the password box blank, and you're usually in. Head for the User Accounts area to remove the password from your user account.

If your luck's waning at this point, you have another option: visit the Login Recovery Web site ( The site offers a downloadable file that creates a bootable CD or floppy disk. Start your PC with that floppy in your A: drive (or the CD in your CD drive), and the program grabs your encrypted password file. Email that information to the site and twiddle your thumbs for about two days until the site's computers manage to decrypt and email you the password. (You can reduce the wait to about ten minutes by forking over around 20 bucks.)

The Installation CD's Dirty Secret

Many external devices come with an installation CD that promises a trouble-free installation. Insert the CD, and it adds the drivers Windows XP needs to speak with your gadget, be it a printer, mouse, or something else attached to your PC.

However, sometimes you don't want to run the installation CD, since most have several drawbacks:

  • In addition to installing the driver, these CDs pile on extra software. A scanner's installation CD, for instance, could tack on an Optical Character Recognition system for converting scanned pages to text files (see Section 6.4), graphics software for manipulating images, a photo management program to organize your digital photos, and one-month trial versions of more advanced graphics software. Not everybody wants or needs these things.

  • Installation CDs are usually out of date. The manufacturer slipped them into the scanner's box when it left the factory, months ago. The drivers on the manufacturer's Web site are usually newer and work better.

That leaves you with two options. You can run the installation CD, and then fire up the Control Panel's Add or Remove Programs wizard to remove the software you don't want.

Or, you can skip the installation CD and run the Add Hardware wizard after plugging in your device. When the wizard presents you with a list of installed hardware, choose "Add a new hardware device," and then tell it to "Install the hardware that I manually select from a list." Next, choose your device from the category list and then click the Have Disk button shown in the top of Figure 16-6. When the Install from Disk window appears, choose your CD from the dropdown list, click OK, and then the wizard scoops up the driverand nothing but the driver.

That gives you the best of both worlds : installing the driver, but ignoring the other software. Should you find a newer driver on the Web site, update the driver (Section 16.5.4) with the newer version.

PCs: The Missing Manual
ISBN: 0596100930
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 206
Authors: Andy Rathbone

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