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How to Regain Access to Your Administrator Account in Windows Vista using System Restore

This is a guest post by Aseem Kishore, a technology enthusiast and lead blogger for Online-Tech-Tips.

Probably one of the most frustrating things that can happen to you in Windows is not being able to logon to your user account because you changed the password and then forgot it or because you accidentally deleted the account. If you don’t know the password for any other Administrator account, you have a big problem!

Most people immediately begin searching for a way to crack the Administrator account password using some free tools or hacks off forums. However, it’s nearly impossible to crack a password on Windows Vista with the high level of encryption.

Yet there is a way to get back into an account without having to crack the password. It’s by using the System Restore feature built into Windows.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This only works in cases where you changed your password to something new and then forgot it or deleted a user account by accident. In order for this to work, there must be a System Restore point at which a logon was successful for the problem account. Also, this is not a problem if you are in a domain environment because the Domain Administrator can always reset your password.

First Step – Boot to the Windows Vista DVD

The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you have your Windows Vista DVD or a repair disc. Insert the disc and then restart the computer. When asked to “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD”, go ahead and press any key.

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Click Next until you get to the screen that has the option “Repair your computer”, select the operating system you want to repair and then click Next.

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Note: Before reaching this screen, you may have to set preferences for the language to install, time and currency format, and the keyboard or input method.

In the System Recovery Options dialog, choose System Restore from the list and then click Next.

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Now you need to choose the system restore from the list. You want to choose a restore point that will return the computer to a state where the logon was successful and that was using the old password.

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Then click Next to confirm the disks, then Finish to confirm the restore point and finally Yes in the warning window to begin the restore.

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Important Note: After you use the System Restore feature, you have to reinstall any programs or updates that were done on the system after that restore point. You will not lose any personal documents; however, you may have to reinstall programs. You might also have to reset some personal settings.

When the restore is complete, click on Restart to restart the computer. Click Close to confirm that the restore was successful.

You can now try to logon using the older password (in the case where you had reset a password on an user account and then forgot it) or using the normal password (in the case where the account was deleted by accident).

If you have simply forgotten your password, then this method will not work and there are some possible methods you could try to reset your Administrator password, but it’s tough and costly. All the best!

Editor’s Note: Online-Tech-Tips is a great site covering a wide variety of topics, and is well worth subscribing to.

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 05/8/08

Comments (23)

  1. Nelson

    is good to see you as a guest in this great quality blog aseem.. great tip on how to get back onto vista after forgetting the login password. but breaking windows vista password is not as hard as it looks. a few months ago a user in the company I work for had forgotten his password on his windows vista personal computer and he did not have the installation DVD to reinstall the OS. so I play with so many free tools like, ophcrack, offline NT passowrd etc and none of them worked, ophcrack did not work because the password was longer than 14 characters probably. but my colleague and I were determined to break into vista and we came out with trick to blank the password by booting from a special CD that my colleague had. honestly I had already gave up when he came up with the idea, and that worked like a charm. no password on vista. I will post on my blog how to do it, for now this posts is the best option I think there is to gain access to vista again after forgetting the password. I don’t know how SP1 on vista affected the way we blanked out the password, but I’ll make sure it works before posting on my blog.

  2. Mohit

    This is really very nice and helpful. This avoid you to use software or cracking password utilities.

  3. jack7h3r1pp3r

    this is a great article wasn’t sure what is was going to be like when i first seen it but you mad this seem very easy to do. great job keep up the good work ;)

  4. Aseem Kishore

    Nelson, that sounds really interesting. Is there anyway you can let me know when you write that post on your site? I would really like to know how you blanked out the Administrator password!

    Mohit, thanks very much! It doesn’t work if you just forget the password, but great when you change it and then forget it!

    Jack, thanks! Will do!

  5. Jennifer

    I cannot BELIEVE this. I was sitting here wondering how in the world I was going to find that info out, it’s been so long since I signed on as admin, and I just happened to see this. Truly a blessing, I can’t thank you enough!

  6. karen

    Nelson,
    What is your blog address? Your options sounds easier than the one listed above.
    Thanks

  7. ray

    i was locked out of the main user,so i can only access to the guest user.with restriction to download any programme from internet because of the main user.i am alway told to log on password in order to cancel the restriction.

    any help available to assist me,thanks!

  8. Grant

    EBCD will let you change or remove passwords from Windows for free, and it is not very difficult.

  9. Tweakwindows

    Thanks for the useful information

  10. jaw69

    I really NEED this information BUT, for Windows XP home Edition(OEM).
    Please e-mail to me A.S.A.P.,
    thank-you…

  11. Rakib

    thats really good

  12. jaw69

    This doesn’t help me. I still have XP Home Edition(32-bit).

  13. crazybill292000

    thank you for the tip,i was on the right track but didnt insert disk,i knew hitting the ealier restore point would work just didnt know how to get there thanks

  14. Diana

    I do not get the option to boot from the cd or dvd….. the screen goes straight to windows log in wanting my password…. it says below the password sign in…….. Password Hint: and then gives me the hint… I know the answer to this but again I do not have a password recovery disk.. I wish I would have known this was going to happen… vista did not warn me if i did not put it on a disk i would not be able to recover my password… I am frustrated

  15. Diana

    Even when I try to log on as admin it will not let me… it says my account has been disabled and i need to see my system admin… what ever that means… I just want to log on……….. :(

  16. Diana

    I need some help here… I went away for 3 months and did not access my pc and now windows vista will not allow me to log on. I did not store the password on a disk. I have tried to reinstall windows vista but it does not give me the option to boot from a cd or dvd. the dam windows log in screen only appears and ask me to log on………can someone please help me here?

  17. dave

    how do you access the higher level administrator account in XP

  18. chitty chitty bang bang

    HOW SHOULD I KNOW IM TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET INTO AN ADMINISTRATOR ACCOUNT THAT I CREATED BUT I FORGOT THE PASSWORD

  19. Dhananjay

    how to gain access to admin account via guest account ?
    ore network in totally protected by a server

  20. Lucxsan

    Man i dont have the windows 7 disc or any of those disc’s so what do i do HELP!

  21. Emma

    Restoration might be the most direct way to regain access to the locked PC. But I don’t want to lose the data in my PC. SO I searched online and find some useful tips. I first, you can Reset Windows password through System Recovery Options. and you can also Reset Windows password with third party software. And I used Windows Login Recovery which works great. Hope this would help.

  22. Brenna

    My mom made a admin account with the parental controls on it. She forgot to renew the password so now it wont let her on. We cant use the CD software to repair my computer because the parental controls blocks it from downloading. Is there even a way to fix this problem? :(

  23. priya chadha

    I have a laptop running windows vista. I dont have the windows CD/DVD. how do i get administrator access? i dont know the password and i cant install anything coz i need administrator access to do that

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