The Background

I recently came across a Windows 7 Starter mini laptop whose owner needed the password reset. She had it in a closet because the power supply failed. By the time she finally got around to getting the power supply fixed, she had forgotten the password.

The Windows 7 install disk should have worked, but when I plugged it in and booted it up, the disk failed to recognize the Starter version of Windows. Next, I created a Windows 7 install disk, but when I booted the computer, the install disk didn’t give the repair your computer step in this tutorial.

Okay, stymied at every turn, what to do next.

I stumbled onto this answer when fixing a EEEPC Asus computer.
The system32 drive is important to recover your password.

The Epiphany

I called the client to give her the bad news.  I wasn’t going to be able to reset her password.

She asked If I could still save her files. Yes, I can do that. I popped out the computer’s hard-drive and set file explorer to the task of accessing her user folder.

The next day, I came back with full access to her files.  Suddenly, I realized that I have access to her system32 folder which was mentioned in the article above.

The Process

For you TLDR readers, this is likely where your start.

What you’ll need:

  1. Another computer with windows on it.
  2. A hard drive enclosure or dock.
You will need another computer and a hard drive enclosure.

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Remove the hard-drive of the computer you’re trying to access.
  2. Place the hard-drive gingerly into an external enclosure or dock                                                                                  – Follow the instructions on the dock to make sure you don’t create a power surge that fries the hard-drive.

3. Connect the dock to another computer and open the drive using file explorer.

4.  Navigate to X:\Windows\system32\utilman.exe (where x:\ is the name of the drive where windows was installed on the hard-drive you are trying to access) and cut utilman.exe (ctrl+x)

5.  Navigate to X:\ and paste it (ctrl+v)

6.  Navigate to X:\Windows\system32\cmd.exe right click and click rename.

7.  Replace “CMD” with “Utilman” without the quotes.

Note: at some point in the process (steps 4 through 7) you’ll probably receive an error message that renaming or copying the item is restricted to TrustedInstaller. You can change those privileges by following this tutorial.

follow these instructions to find your password
finding the password isn't so bad

8.  Pop the drive back into the computer you are trying to access.

9.  Power up the device, then click on the Utility Manager icon, CMD will popup.

10.  Open command prompt and type the following command then hit enter: net user myusername mypassword but replace myusername with the username of the user your trying to log into and replace mypassword with the password you want to use.

Note: If your username has spaces, put double quotes around it when executing net user.

Note 2: You may not know your username type net user into the command prompt to find out what your username is.

11.  Login using your new password.

once the password is reset you are good to go
Jami Schmohe

Jami Schmohe

Founder an CEO of Priority IT Works

Jami has 6+ years of Information Technology experience. He received his degree in Business Economics and has a strong background in the service industry. Jami believes in combining the Information Technology industry and the Service industry in order to make his team’s services more accessible to the client.