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Beginners Guides: Forgotten Passwords & Recovery Methods

Beginners Guides: Forgotten Passwords & Recovery Methods - PCSTATS
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Abstract: Ever wondered how to recover or reset a forgotten password in WindowsXP? This guide will help you get back into your computer, all without reinstalling the operating system.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Aug 31 2007   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Beginners Guides: Forgotten Passwords & Recovery Methods


Ever wondered how to recover or reset a forgotten password in WindowsXP? This guide will help you get back into your computer, all without reinstalling the operating system. - Version 1.1.0

Windows 2000 and XP brought with them enhanced security features designed originally for the business environment. Unlike the Windows 9x/ME series of operating systems, these new operating systems have very effective password security measures which you can use to protect your system and your data from unwanted access.

Of course, what happens if when you forget the passwords? Congratulations… You've just become "the enemy" as far as your computer is concerned.

Fortunately, for every method of password protecting a computer system, there is a method of defeating said protection, especially if you have physical access to the computer. Since it's your PC, that shouldn't be a problem, so cheer up.

In this guide, PCstats will explore the various methods that can be used to password protect computer systems, and how to defeat them if you lock yourself out. We'll start with non-user account related passwords, like the computer BIOS password and Internet Explorer passwords, and proceed on to methods of breaking into your system again if you manage to completely lock yourself out.

How to get around BIOS passwords

BIOS passwords are one of the oldest methods of protecting computer systems from unauthorized use, and also one of the least used. Why? Well, password protecting your computer BIOS is a simple and effective means of locking unwanted intruders out of your computer, provided they have no access to the box itself or no hardware knowledge. If they do, it's the equivalent of locking your house and leaving your back window open. Fortunately for you, if you forgot your keys inside, it's easy to get back in.

All motherboards have a stored default configuration for their BIOS, which does not include password protection, for obvious reasons. Therefore, to defeat a BIOS password, all you need to do is manually reset the motherboard BIOS to its default settings. Please note that resetting the BIOS to remove a password will also remove any other changes you have made to the default settings. Resetting the BIOS can be accomplished in one of two ways.

Most modern motherboards have a jumper built onto the board which will clear the CMOS (the onboard memory which stores any changes made to the default BIOS settings). Clearing the CMOS removes any changes made to the default BIOS settings. Generally this jumper is located next to the motherboard battery itself, but we recommend that you consult your motherboard manual for the correct location.

Note that some boards do not have a jumper in this position, but rather two contacts which you will need to (carefully) bridge with a metal object like a screwdriver.

To clear the CMOS using the jumper: Turn the computer off, and set the jumper to the closed position (with the jumper bridging both metal pins). Press the power button to turn the computer on. Your system will not power up, but the CMOS is cleared by this action. Then, open the jumper (put the jumper back to the default position) and power on the computer normally.

You will most likely be stopped in the POST screen and prompted to press F1 or another key to set BIOS defaults. Do so, and from the BIOS screen, simply save and exit to load your computer normally, minus the BIOS password.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  — Beginners Guides: Forgotten Passwords & Recovery Methods
 Pg 2.  Resetting BIOS Passwords
 Pg 3.  Using Asterisk-Password Revealing Programs
 Pg 4.  Windows Login Passwords
 Pg 5.  NT/2000/XP password reset boot utility
 Pg 6.  Retrieving the Windows XP SAM and SYSTEM files
 Pg 7.  Extracting passwords from the SAM file
 Pg 8.  Brute Force Password Cracking

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