Forgetting your password can be a nightmare for any Windows user. It can happen if you are setting up a new installation for the first time and you haphazardly created a password without thoughtfully thinking about what you were creating. It could even be a password for an account you do not use often. In this article, we discuss some ways you can get your password back or reset it on Windows 10 and earlier Windows Operating Systems.
Recover Lost Windows Password
The first place I would start before trying anything invasive is the hint feature. When you first created an account and password, you were also prompted to create a hint, which can be used to jog your memory and help remember it. If this does not work, then move on to the next step.
Log into another Administrator Account on the system and reset the account
If you have more than one account on the system (which hopefully you do,) log into the other account and reset the password for the user account that you forgot. Keep in mind this would require that you know the password or know someone with an account on the system with Administrator privileges.
- Press Windows key + R
- Type: control userpasswords2
- Hit Enter key on your keyboard
- Select the account then click Reset password
- Enter the new password and confirm it then click OK
Reset your Microsoft Account
Resetting your password is ideal, but what if you don’t have another account setup with Administrator privileges on your PC? If you used a Microsoft Account, try this trick. You’ll need access to your Microsoft Account Settings. So the first thing you will need to do is go to https://account.live.com/password/reset.
Then select I forgot my password then click Next.
Type your email address then enter the captcha code that appears.
Select the preferred method of delivering the code then click Send Code.
Once the code arrives, enter it and click Next to recover your account.
What if none of the above options are available to you?
Well, your next best option would be to perform a custom Windows install, create a new account and a password you can remember. Proceed to recover your personal files from the Windows.old folder and reinstall your applications and drivers. It’s a chore, but it’s the next best option. Here is how you do that:
- Boot from your Windows setup media
- Select your Language, Time and Keyboard Method then click Next
- Click Install now
- Wait while Setup starts
- Accept the license terms and click Next
- Click Custom
- Select the Primary Partition then click Next
You will receive the following warning: The partition you selected might contain files from a previous Windows Installation. If it does, these files and folders will be moved to a folder named Windows.old. You will be able to access the information in Windows.old, but you won’t be able to use your previous version of Windows. Click OK and wait while Windows installs.
When setup is complete, you can browse the root of the system drive and recover your personal files from your Windows.old folder.
I noticed when preparing this article, older functions such as the Create password reset disk does not seem to work anymore in Windows 10 or Windows 8x. If you are running an older version of Windows such as Windows 7 and you are not in this situation of needing to recover your password, now would be a good time to create one.
Ways to Prevent Losing Your Password
I should also mention these ways to avoid this situation is to create a passphrase you can remember for your Microsoft Account. After that’s set up, you can use a simple four-digit PIN instead of a password. For more on that read one of the following articles.
Also, you can set Windows to log in automatically. For obvious security reasons, this isn’t recommended if you share your PC or are in a public place. But if you live alone and know your situation is secure, it’s also an option. For more about that, read one of the following guides.