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How to Create and Use a Password Reset Disk in Windows 7 or Vista

Forgetting your password can be an extremely frustrating situation, and we’ve already shared how to reset your password with the Ultimate Boot CD as well as the System Rescue CD, but you can prevent the situation entirely by creating a password reset disk.

The Password Reset Disk is essentially a small file that can be used to reset your password, even if you have changed your password since creating the reset disk. This can be extremely valuable for preventing any embarrassing situations.

Naturally, you should store this in a very safe place, since it can be easily used by anybody to reset the password and gain access to your account.

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Of course, Windows has supported the use of a Password Reset Disk for a while, but Windows Vista makes it really simple to use since you can use a USB Flash drive to store the reset file instead of a floppy.

Creating the Password Reset Disk

Open up User Accounts by clicking on your User icon in the start menu, and then select the link for “Create a password reset disk” over on the upper left-hand side.

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You’ll be greeted with a wizard that gives you basic information about how it works… just click Next.

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Now you can select the removable drive to create the password key on:

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You’ll be asked for your current password, which we’ll hope you haven’t forgotten.

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And that’s all there is to it… just remember to save this disk in a safe place.

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If you actually look at the drive, you’ll see a file named userkey.psw that contains your reset key, and you could backup the file to another location if you wanted to.

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Logically, you could then copy this file to another USB drive and use it to reset the password.

Resetting Your Password

Once you have a password reset disk, you can use it easily the next time you forget your password… once you’ve typed the wrong password Vista will show a “Reset password” link below the login box.

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You’ll want to make sure you already have the USB flash drive inserted at this point, or else you’ll get an error message:

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If you do already have the disk inserted, you should get this wizard screen instead.

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You’ll want to pick the right disk if you have more than one…

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And then type in a new password and a hint for the password.

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That’s all there is to it.

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Note that you don’t need to create a new password reset disk after using it to change your password.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/7/08

Comments (28)

  1. mjschmidt

    This is neat, but… OMG! Isn’t this a HUGE security risk? Is there any way of stopping this from working? What good is it to lock our computers when we are away from them if some can just reset the PW?

  2. The Geek

    @mjschmidt

    That’s why you need to put the disk in a safe place, where nobody else can get to it!

  3. ASLM

    mjschmidt,
    a person can only do this to your PC if the he/she has YOUR password reset disk. As long as you don`t give it away to strangers, nor leave it in a drawer right below the PC, you should be fine.

  4. jd2066

    @mjschmidt: No, it’s not a security risk because it’s not posssible for someone who doesn’t know your password to create a password reset disk.

  5. Ron

    I’m assuming that each .psw file is tied to a specific account. You can’t reset someone else’s password with your .psw file, can you?

  6. The Geek

    @Ron

    The .psw file is only going to work for your specific account, and of course you have to enter your password to even create the password reset disk in the first place.

    It’s really not a security risk.

  7. Komal

    Can i use other’s laptop cd/MMC card for reset my laptop’s password?
    What Shoud i do for that….I didn’t creat any Cd/MMc

  8. jd2066

    @Komal: I don’t think so. I would guess the password file is computer and user specific. You can try it if you want to though.
    If that doesn’t work then you can follow the articles for using a Ultimate Boot CD or System Rescure CD which are linked at the start of this article to reset your password.

  9. Vinay Reddy

    how to reset password(administrator)…i haven’t created a password reset disc before.can this be sorted out …plz help me

  10. Chol

    It’s good to be your USB drive a reset disk

  11. Wanda

    I have a HP Compaq Presario laptop with Windows Vista Home Premium. I had left it open, with the dvd drive open, and my cat jumped up on it, wrecking it. I had to purchase a new screen, installed it yesterday, and I’m waiting on a new dvd drive (it was left open so it got broke too). I don’t want to restore or lose my information on the pc. I’m somewhat anxious and want to know how to get into it…but to make matters worse I forgot my admin/user password. I have a desktop pc with windows XP, but can’t find anything online or through torrents that enable me to make a password key disk that the Vista requires. I don’t have restore disk. Sigh. Too many problems! Please help me? I sure appreciate it, I’m going nuts!

    Wanda

  12. Wanda

    Oh, also, I got a 8 gig usb flash, trying to find ways to do this, but can’t seem to. Please help. Thanks.

  13. linky

    does it mean if you already forgot the password you cannot create a disk?
    then you have to find some recovery tool like “windows password reset”.

  14. music2

    Hi
    My sister is using the Password Reset Wizard to hack onto my computor. I want to get rid of this programme as soon as possible so if you could tell me how to do it, that would be really handy.
    Thanks

  15. amanda

    for some reason when im done typing the passwords and the hints it keeps saying error?

  16. Jim

    my aunt (73 yrs old) forgot her password to her Compaq Presario (Windows Vista) and does not have a password reset disk, is there anyway to get around this?

  17. Ami

    I uauslly used the cheapest and easy to use tools, especialy free trial: like Windows Password Recovery tool 3.0 to reset Windows XP password.
    Or you can try hacker. O(∩_∩)O ~

  18. vijay dubey

    use erd commander thats very gd tool for reseting password of any windows o.s
    just download it and reset ur admin password from lock smith menu of ERD COMMANDER

  19. sudhir

    I have a brand new system of Pre Installed Windows Vista Business PC But i have Forgetten my use Password I had tried by Password Reset Disk but the Solution dose’nt Came to me ( An error while the wizard was attempting to set the passsowrd for this user account) Kindly Plz……… help me reset my Password because it’s my Offical Computer. If possible kindly send it me as soon as it is possible

  20. Ashish Rajta

    Easiest and best way to recover password. thank you Mr. Geek !! And i love your every article… :)

  21. gurpreet

    ya i knew that how can i make password recovery. but i have one more question? i m unable to login to login to my computer. so can i make it from another vista computer?….

  22. Michelle

    If you’ve already forgotten your Windows Vista password and don’t have a Windows Vista password reset disk, you can still preform Windows Vista password reset with Windows Password Recovery 6.0, It would reset the lost password in any Windows system quickly. In my eyes, It’s worth a try!
    To remove Windows Passwords with Windows Password Recovery 6.0 only needs 3 steps!
    Step 1 . Download and install Windows Password Recovery 6.0
    Step 2 . Burn windows password recovery 6.0 to CD/DVD or USB Flash Drive
    Step 3 . Reset your Windows password

  23. Dan

    I have tried to use this to reset my password, but when I put in the USB drive and select the F: rive from the drop down menu, it returns the follwing error message “File Not Found” “The disk is not a password rest disk”. This is wrong as it IS the passwor reset file and the only file on the flash drive.
    Help!! Please email me with a way to sort this error message.
    I have a Dell machine running on Windows 7

  24. thestickmangeek

    i can`t find the “create a password reset disk” link in windows 7

  25. John

    it takes the mick. i go through all that hassle and at the end it goes an error occured. somone help me out

  26. justin

    What if a forgot to make a password forget disc and then forgot password
    what do i do

  27. Kei Lopez

    Can we also do it on another account .. Because before I forgot my password , I don’t have a password reset disk . And after that, I saved the password reset disk on my USB but I created it on my sister’s account .. So this is my question .. Can we still do it on another account like what happened to me .. Because it goes to an error .. :(

  28. bobby

    your info is good but to create a reset disc you must first be able to get back in the computer. if the password you’ve forgotten is on start up what do you do then?

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