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Beginners Guides: Forgotten Passwords & Recovery Methods

Beginners Guides: Forgotten Passwords & Recovery Methods - PCSTATS
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

Resetting BIOS Passwords

If you are not sure of the location of the clear CMOS jumper, or your system does not have one, there's another easy (but slower) way to clear the CMOS memory and reset the BIOS. Every motherboard has a battery built in which provides the trickle of power the CMOS memory needs to store its information. If you remove the battery for a brief period, the CMOS should lose its stored data.

In all modern motherboards, the battery is a standard CR 2032 Lithium Cell, which looks like this:

To clear the CMOS memory, power down you system and remove this battery (you will probably need a flathead screwdriver to do it) for 5-10 minutes, then pop it back in and turn your system on. You will be prompted to set the BIOS defaults. From the BIOS screen, save and exit, and the password should no longer be set.

While this works well with desktop PCs, notebooks and laptops employ slightly different methods of storing the BIOS password. In most cases, like 99% of the time, you will not be able to reset a forgotten BIOS password by this, or any other user accessible method. Since notebooks are easily stolen, manufacturers have evolved their security measures significantly to help you protect your data, and investment. Look for PCstats Guide to preventing data theft from a stolen laptop soon... In the mean time, when it comes to resetting a BIOS-level password on a notebook, usually the only option available is to send the entire notebook back to the manufacturer for support.

Revealing disguised passwords in Windows XP

With the way that Windows handles non-user account passwords - such as dial in passwords for your Internet service provider, email access passwords or website authorization boxes - it can be very easy to forget the original password that you entered in long ago.

If you have set autocomplete to fill in your password entries in Internet Explorer, for example, you may have only entered each password once, many months ago, no matter how many times you've used them.

Writing all your passwords down for safekeeping is definitely recommended, but how can you when they're all displayed as ***** in Windows?

Well, the solution to this lies in third-party software that can peel back that row of asterisks. There are many freely available software tools for decoding, or revealing passwords in Windows or Internet Explorer dialog boxes.

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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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