Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Password recovery/reset in NT (XP and Vista)

I'm trying a few programs for a friend who had some odd problems and is now password-locked out of his new laptop. Please note none of these are intended for domain computers.

First: Password crack (read)
Ophcrack (http://ophcrack.sourceforge.net/)
-They have separate XP and Vista Live CD versions- I'll report back if/how they work. This one is supposed to let you see what the password on a local account, with no change, allowing you log in with no loss of EFS encrypted files, but only works for a limited keyset (alphanum, usually). So it wouldn't work for people who use strong passwords like me. (I include alt+numpad characters that are out of ascii range...a side benefit is that nobody can get in using FTP on my account...ever).

Edit: I tried this tool first, but it didn't work for me. Whether that is because whatever the password was changed to was too complex, or because the tool just didn't work, remains to be seen. I'll try this out on some other machines later.


Second: Password reset
Offline NT Password & Registry Editor (http://home.eunet.no/pnordahl/ntpasswd)
This Live CD is supposed to work with all NT computers (2008 not yet officially supported) that are not domain-joined. It just resets any user's password to blank, regardless of what it was before, allowing you to login and change it to whatever. Using this one will cause you to permanently lose access to any files encrypted with EFS, every time. However, most people don't use EFS, so it's a good solution. If you've forgotten your password, you'll lose EFS files anyway, no matter how you try to get in. Again, I'll report back how this works.
Edit: this tool is more complex than any beginner will want to use, but it ended up doing the trick for me, after I figured out which partition I should be using it on :). It seemed illogical to me that I should use it on the partition labeled boot, since the boot partition should be the CD I booted from, not the default boot partition for the machine! The GUI is dense and not recommended- the text version seemed to do the trick much better. I'm more comfortable in a console for stuff like that anyway. Recommended, if you know what you're doing.

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