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

By Lowell Heddings on May 8th, 2008

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
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