An administrator password is designed to protect your computer from tampering. If you have kids, it will prevent them from adding programs to your computer without permission, assuming they don’t have access to the administrator password. But when you lose the administrator password, you lose access to your own computer. Even if you have another account on the computer, you cannot update software or add new programs until you recover that lost password.
How to Recover a Windows Administrator Password
It’s possible to recover lost passwords for Windows and you can download programs to do it for free. I know this because I lost my own administrator password for my laptop. When the frustration of not being able to update programs was compounded by not being able to install my new printer, I knew I had to take action. I researched how to recover lost administrative passwords for Windows Vista and discovered Petter Nordall-Hagen’s offline password editor.
Because you cannot add software to your computer without an administrator password, you cannot install this program to your computer. You download it to a CD, then use the CD to regain access your administrator account.
When using the offline password editor, you can delete the administrator account altogether. Then, if you want an administrator account on your computer- if you dare after the experience of losing your administrator password- create a new one. It’s that simple.
This password utility can be used to reset other user accounts as well as the administrator account. So, for example, if a family member died, you can access his password protected account by using this utility.
Login Recovery.com is another password recovery program. It is designed to recover most Windows passwords including Windows XP, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Other password recovery programs that will allow you to regain access after losing the administrator password include Stellar Phoenix, Cain and Abel, PC Login Now, John the Ripper, and EBCD. Not all of these recovery programs work with all operating systems so check their particulars before downloading.
Does Resetting the Administrator Password Compromise Stored Data?
Daniel Petri, whose website provided the information that helped me regain access to my computer after I lost my administrator password, warns that with certain systems, Encrypting File System files can be lost when resetting an administrator password. This is an issue with Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems and you can read more about it here.
Sources: http://www.mydigitallife.info/2007/05/27/forgot-windows-administrator-password-ways-to-recover-and-reset-password-in-vistaxp20032knt/; http://www.petri.co.il/what%27s_efs.htm; http://www.petri.co.il/forgot_administrator_password.htm#.