How to Reset Forgotten Windows 10 Password with Linux Live CD

As a tech-savvy, you might be asked a couple of times by colleagues, friends or family members on how to reset Windows 10 password when the password was forgotten or lost.

Or How do I recover my windows 10 password?

The scenario is not rated in real life, especially on Windows 10, which asks users to change the password from time to time.

The fact is that resetting Windows 10 password is not rocket science & you can find dozens of solutions online.

However, many of them are a bit tricky & some of them are premium solutions.

But Surprisingly, you can also do this for free with a bootable Linux Live CD.

Let’s see How…

Note:- This method only works for Windows local accounts. For a connected Microsoft account, you can reset the password from here: https://account.live.com/ResetPassword.aspx

Reset Windows 10 Password with Linux Live CD

Follow this step by step tutorial…

There are too many Linux variants and it is hard to tell which one is better for you only after reading text reviews.

It could be a waste of time installing a distro on a hard drive and found out it is not your taste.

But now, this is no longer an issue thanks to Linux Live CD, which is able to boot Linux from a hard drive without installing it on a local drive.

And using this you can easily reset windows 10 passwords without losing data.

So in this tutorial, we will take Ubuntu Linux ISO as its file size is smaller and it is packed with a fancy UI, which is much better than other Linux environments for new users.

But before dig in further.

Please make sure that you have another working PC or Mac in order to create a bootable Linux media.

So let’s get started…

1. Download Ubuntu Linux ISO

Now, go to the Ubuntu official website & download a copy of Desktop Ubuntu. Download Link

Download Ubuntu Linux ISO

If the download speed is slow, then pick up a mirror site near to your GEO location which will boost your download speed.

2. Make a bootable USB / DVD

After downloading Ubuntu ISO, the next step is to make a bootable USB or DVD from it.

But I prefer USB as these days many computers don’t have a DVD drive.

And to create a bootable USB from Linux ISO you need a bootable USB software for that like UNetbootin.

Download and install UNetbootin.

Unetbootin

3. Boot PC from Ubuntu Live CD

Once your bootable USB is ready. Insert it into the locked computer for which you want to reset windows 10 password.

Now Open the Boot menu during startup and choose the inserted USB device from that menu.

And You will see a black screen indicating Ubuntu booting from USB. A minute later, you will see two options like Try Ubuntu & Install Ubuntu on the screen.

Boot PC from Ubuntu Live CD

Here you have to choose Try Ubuntu. And Ubuntu will start.

4. Configure Ubuntu Software Center

Now Open Ubuntu Software Center from the left sidebar or click on the Settings icon & open System settings.

And then Click on Software & Updates. And in the Ubuntu software tab, Check this option “Community-maintained free and open-source software(universe)”.

Configure Ubuntu Software Center

Note:- This allows the machine to install packages from non-official sources. Because to reset windows 10 password we need to download chntpw utility from the non-official source.

Then click on Close and then click on Reload to Update Cache.

Warning:- To download the software you must be connected to the internet.

5. Install chntpw utility

Now Open Terminal app & type the following command to install chntpw utility, an amazing package to edit or reset password on Windows machine.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install chntpw

After installation is completed, close the terminal app.

6. Reset Windows 10 Password

Now Click on the Files icon from the left sidebar or Open Examples folder on the desktop to open file explorer.

Under the Device tab, you will see all the partitions on this machine. Click the Windows partition name to mount it in Ubuntu. Now switch to Terminal app and type the command to go to the partition that has Windows installed.

cd /media/
ls

Locate Windows partition and go to this folder: Windows/System32/config.

The folder contains a file named SAM, which is a registry container to store Windows user name and password.

And by editing the entry, the forgotten windows 10 password associated with that account can be cleared or changed.

Now input the following command to find all user names available on the Windows partition.

chntpw -l SAM

Forgotten windows 10 Password

Select a user account and type the command to load password Options.

chntpw -u martin SAM

From the prompted options, type 1 to clear the password. And confirm the writing operation to Hive file.

Reset Windows 10 Password

After that, eject the USB and boot into Windows. The screen will go to the desktop directly and no password is asked during login.

And if this method still doesn’t work for you then you can contact a technology specialist or an expert. He will help you in fixing this properly without any issue.

Conclusion

Chntpw utility is one of the best tools to reset windows 10 password safely. And also works for Windows XP,7,8,8.1. However, it has some issues with the latest Windows 10 version. In addition, some users might think the Live CD method is too complicated. Hence  I suggest two alternatives for resetting Windows 10 passwords.

Alternative Solution for Windows Password Reset

Ophcrack: Another free utility that uses rainbow tables to crack password hash. It will not remove or reset the password. Instead, it helps you recover the password. However, for complex password, it could take days to find the original password.

Windows 10 Password Reset: A cross-platform GUI program that works on Windows and Mac. It first creates a password reset disk with USB or CD/DVD, which contains a macro to be able to edit SAM file. After the program is being loaded, it lists all user accounts. Then you can reset the password to blank by click the ‘Reset Password’ button. This is more user friendly and much faster than Linux Live CD and Ophcrack.

Stay tuned for the next post…

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