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SECURITY

Resetting a user account password on Windows

Have you lost or forgotten the password for a user account on Windows? You’ve come to the right place: I’ll show you how to reset the password for one of your user accounts so that you can access Windows again.

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Here are three methods to reset the password for a local user account on Windows:

  • Method 1: using the Rescatux backup USB key . Rescatux allows you to accomplish various rescue tasks, including erasing the password of a Windows user account.
  • Method 2a and 2b: by exploiting a Windows security flaw that allows you to reset the password of any user account from a USB key of a Linux distribution like Puppy Linux (method n ° 2a) or Windows Recovery Environment (method # 2b).
  • Method 3: using the MediCat backup USB key . MediCat is a backup operating system (live CD type) which provides access to a suite of tools for troubleshooting your computer.
  • Method 4: Using the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor program (also known as chntpw), which allows you to erase or change the passwords of any user account by modifying the SAM data (Security Account Manager), the Windows user account database. chntpw is also able to promote a standard account to an administrator account.

The three methods presented to reset a forgotten or lost password work with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10.

Method 1: with Rescatux

Rescatux is a rescue USB / CD key for GNU / Linux and Windows that allows you to perform various rescue tasks, including erasing the password of a user or administrator account on Windows.

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Download the ISO from Rescatux.
  2. Create a USB key with Rescatux using the Rufus program:
    Create a bootable Linux USB key (Ubuntu, Debian…)
  3. Start your PC from the USB key containing Rescatux.
  4. Select the language , the keyboard layout and then click the Start button .
  5. In the Rescapp program , click on the Blank Windows password button .

    Note that you can also promote a standard user account to an administrator account by clicking on Promote Windows user to Admin .

  6. Click the Run button .
  7. Select the Windows partition and click OK .
  8. Select the user account for which you want to clear the password.
  9. And There you go ! The user account password has been deleted.
  10. All you have to do is restart your PC and log in with your user account.

Congratulations! You have correctly reset the password for a user account on Windows using Rescatux.

 

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Method 2: with utilman.exe

Reset a user’s password thanks to a Windows security flaw …

How it works ?

When Windows starts, an executable file is loaded: utilman.exe. This file provides access to Windows ergonomics options (magnifying glass, visual keyboard, narrator, etc.). It can be started manually by pressing the keys . + U

The technique is to replace the ergonomics options with the command prompt . To do this, we will rename cmd.exe(the command prompt executable file) to utilman.exe. So when we press the keys , it will launch the command prompt instead of the ergonomics options, allowing us to change the password of a Windows user account. + U

Method 2a: via Puppy Linux

Thanks to a USB key / CD from a Linux distribution , we will be able to replace the ergonomic options with the command prompt and reset the password of a user account on Windows.

I advise you to use the Puppy Linux distribution.

It is very light (a few hundred MB) and is more than enough for the manipulations we have to do to reset the password of a Windows user account.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Download the ISO of Puppy Linux (64 bits: bionicpup64-8.0-uefi.iso / 32 bits: bionicpup32-8.0-uefi.iso) then create a USB key of Puppy Linux:
    Create a bootable USB key of Linux
  2. Start your PC from the USB key containing Puppy Linux.
  3. Select Find /grub.cfg then Start xenialpup64 .
  4. Once Puppy Linux is launched, change the country ( fr_FR French, France ) and the keyboard layout ( fr ), then click OK .
  5. A restart of the X server is necessary to validate the changes. Click Restart X .
  6. Now you need to locate the name of the drive where your Windows installation is located. Look at the bottom of the Puppy Linux desktop, you should see a list of readers ( sda1 , sda2 …). Open each of them until you find the one on your Windows partition (the one with the Program Files, Users, Windows… folders).

    In the example above, the Windows partition is located in / mnt / sda4 .

  7. Launch the console application on the desktop of Puppy Linux and enter the following commands to replace utilman.exewith cmd.exe(replace sda4 with the name of the drive where your Windows installation is located):
    cd /mnt/sda4
    cd Windows/System32
    mv Utilman.exe Utilman.exe.bak
    cp cmd.exe Utilman.exe
  8. Restart your PC.
  9. On the Windows login screen, press the keys to launch the command prompt (instead of the ergonomics options). + U
    launch-home-windows-u-prompt-commands
  10. To reset the password for a user account, type the following command (replace nouveau_mot_de_passewith the password you want to assign to the user account):
    net user "nom_compte_utilisateur" nouveau_mot_de_passe
    change-password-windows-user-cmd
  11. Restore the Windows ergonomics options : restart your PC from the USB key of Puppy Linux, open the Terminal (as we did previously) then enter the following commands:
    cd /mnt/sda4
    cd Windows/System32
    rm Utilman.exe
    mv Utilman.exe.bak Utilman.exe

Congratulations! You have correctly reset the password for a user account on Windows using Linux.

Method 2b: via Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE)

Note: if you want to reset the password for an administrator account and this is the only administrator account on your system, this method will not work . Indeed, in this method, we use the command prompt, and to access it, we need… to connect with an administrator account!

This method therefore works only if you know at least the password of one of the administrator accounts of your system. If not, follow method # 2a with Puppy Linux.

  1. Launch the command prompt:
    • With Windows XP , via the Recovery Console: start your PC on a Windows XP installation USB key then press the key Rto launch the Windows Recovery Console.
      repair-installation-cd-windows-xp

      Enter the number corresponding to the location where your Windows XP installation is located (most often it is 1 ) then enter the password for the administrator account. If you are running Windows XP Home Edition, a password may not have been set. If so, just press the button Entréewhen prompted for the administrator account password.

      console-recovery-windows-xp
    • With Windows 7 and Vista , via System Recovery Options: select Repair computer> your Windows installation> Command Prompt.
      command-prompt-cd-installation-windows
    • With Windows 10 and 8 , via Advanced Boot Options: select Troubleshooting> Advanced Options> Command Prompt.
  2. Go to the drive letter where your Windows installation is located. Please note this is not necessarily the letter C:! To find out which letter corresponds to your Windows installation, enter a drive letter (for example E:) then enter the command dirto list its contents. If you find the files specific to Windows (Program Files, Users, Windows, etc.), you have come to the right place!
    e:
    dir
    Le volume dans le lecteur E s’appelle OS
    Le numéro de série du volume est C016-7234
    
    Répertoire de E:
    
    12/04/2018  01:38    DIR          PerfLogs
    13/06/2018  19:35    DIR          Program Files
    12/04/2018  18:19    DIR          Program Files (x86)
    13/06/2018  13:40    DIR          Users
    13/06/2018  22:11    DIR          Windows
  3. Once you are on the drive containing Windows, move to the folder WindowsSystem32:
    cd Windows
    cd System32
    change-windows-system32-prompt-commands
  4. Create a backup of the file utilman.exe, we will restore it when we have reset the password:
    copy Utilman.exe Utilman.exe.bak
    utilman-copy-prompt-commands-windows
  5. Replace the ergonomics options with utilman.exethe command prompt cmd.exe:
    copy cmd.exe Utilman.exe
    replace-cmd-utilman-prompt-commands-windows
  6. Restart your PC.
  7. On the Windows login screen, press the keys to launch the command prompt (instead of the ergonomics options). + U
    launch-home-windows-u-prompt-commands
  8. To reset the password for a user account, type the following command (replace nouveau_mot_de_passewith the password you want to assign to the user account):
    net user "nom_compte_utilisateur" nouveau_mot_de_passe
    change-password-windows-user-cmd
  9. Restore the Windows ergonomics options : restart your PC, access the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), open the command prompt (as we did previously) then enter the following commands:
    cd Windows
    cd System32
    del Utilman.exe
    ren Utilman.exe.bak Utilman.exe
    restore-options-ergonomics-windows-prompt-commands

Congratulations! You have correctly reset the password of a user account on Windows using WinRE.

 

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Method 3: with MediCat USB

MedicatUSB is a backup operating system that installs on a USB key and provides access to various tools for troubleshooting your computer.

To reset a Windows password with MediCat USB, follow this tutorial:

Reset a lost or forgotten Windows password with MediCat USB

Method 4: with Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor is a program for removing or changing the password of a Windows user account.

How it works ?

Windows stores user accounts and passwords in a database called SAM (Security Account Manager). SAM is one of the components of the Windows Registry.

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor allows you to manage the content of SAM, it is thus able to:

  • remove the password from a user account;
  • change the password for a user account;
  • change the type of an account (switch from standard user to administrator);
  • activate / deactivate a user account.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a CD or USB key with Offline NT Password & Registry Editor:
  2. Start your PC from the USB key / CD containing Offline NT Password & Registry Editor.
  3. When Offline NT Password & Registry Editor starts, press the key Entrée.
    boot-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  4. Enter the number corresponding to the partition where your Windows installation is located. Look at the partitions found under Candidate Windows partitions found and trust their size or their label to find the correct one, the one where Windows is located.
    select-disk-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  5. The program asks us what is the path that leads to the Windows Registry. Leave the default choice by pressing Entrée.
    select-registry-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  6. Press again Entrée to load the SAM database, the Windows security account manager.
    password-reset-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  7. Press again  Entrée to change the passwords for user accounts.
    edit-user-data-passwords-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  8. The program now displays all user accounts on the system. For each account, we see its name ( Username ), if it is an administrator account ( Admin ) and if the account is disabled or locked ( dis / lock ). Enter the name of the user account for which you want to delete or change the password, then press Enter. In the example below, I enter the user « The Crab ».
    username-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  9. You have several choices:
    1. Clear the password for the user account .
    2. Set a new password .
    3. Change the type of account: standard user to administrator.
    4. Unblock and activate the user account.
  10. Choose whether you prefer to erase the password or set a new password for your user account by entering the appropriate number. In the example below, I choose to erase the password by entering the number 1 and then doing Entrée.
    user-edit-menu-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  11. Come in ! (the exclamation mark) to exit the menu for editing user accounts. Attention the keyboard is in QWERTY: to enter the exclamation mark, you have to press the keys simultaneously .MAJ (⇧) + &
    quit-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  12. Enter a (as the keyboard is in QWERTY, press the key q) to exit.
    exit-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  13. Confirm the changes you have just made by entering y and pressing Entrée.
    confirm-offline-nt-password-registry-editor
  14. Exit the program permanently by entering n .
  15. All you have to do is restart your computer by pressing the keys and log in with your user account.Ctrl + Alt + Suppr

Congratulations! You have correctly erased or reset the password for a user account on Windows using the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor.

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SECURITY

Back up files to a computer on the network

In this article, we will see how to backup files and folders to a computer on the network.
The backup will be based on Windows file and folder sharing. and will be done during session opening.
The goal is therefore to set up a copy of folders / files to a Backup share on another Windows computer.

The Backup destination folder will contain 5 folders from 1 to 5, it is a rotation of backups that allows you to go back to 5 backups.

backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_12

Create the Windows share

As a reminder, there is a Network and Homegroup Sharing tutorial that explains how to configure Windows computers within a local network to share files and folders.
Here, we are going to make it extremely simple, for it to work, we must:

  • Create the same pair of user / password on both Windows, the source one and the one that will receive the backup.
  • Share the backup folder to make it accessible from the source computer.

To create the users on both Windows, you can follow this tutorial: Windows users operation
To go fast, you can also use the netplwiz utility: netplwiz – create a user quickly

In this tutorial, I will use the user malekalmorte, but you can create a backup user, with a valid password.
The netplwiz utility can even prevent password changes to ensure that it remains consistent between the two computers.

Then create the backup folder, for example C: Backup or in another partition with a larger disk.
Right click then Properties on the Backups folder and Share tab.
In authorization you have everyone, Delete it.

backup_external_network Click Add and enter the username you created on both computers.
Click OK and check Allow on the Modify line to have write rights on the Windows share.
backup_external_network_2 Then go to the Security tab, to do the same.backup_external_network_3 Click Modify then Add.
Enter the username, and check Allow on the Edit line to have write rights.
backup_external_network_4From the source computer, try to list and open the Backup share.
You can go through the menu Network> your computer and normally the Backup share should appear.
It is also possible to type directly in the address bar: \ computername Backup
backup_external_network_5

Reminder, to view the computer name:

  • On Windows XP, Vista and Seven: right click on My Computer then Properties
  • On Windows 8.1 and Windows 10: right-click on the Start menu then System.

The computer name appears in the system properties.

backup_external_network_computer_name

and hop sharing opens.backup_external_network_6

If a username / password is requested, it is very likely that the username / password pair on the two computers is different.
Make sure that two users with the same password exist on both computers.

Prepare for backup

The share to host your backups is ready and running from the source computer.
We will now be able to prepare the scripts that will perform the backups.

  • Create a backup folder in your documents for example.
  • Download this file: Backup_Lan.zip
  • Unzip the contents in the folder.

Two files will be created in this folder.

  • Backup.txt which will contain the list of folders and files that you want to back up.
  • Save.cmd which will contain the backup script. It is this script that will have to be executed for the backups to be carried out with the folders listed in Backupe.txt

Example of Backupe.txt content
Delete and copy / paste the full paths of your folders.

backup_network_windows_script

Then, you have to modify the path in the « set destination » part.
The easiest way is to access the share and copy / paste the full path which is in the address bar.

backup_network_windows_script_2

Save the changes.

From there, if you double-click the Save.cmd file, you should have your folders and files copied to the Backup folder on the remote computer on your local network.

Automate backup

Everything is ready, all that remains is to automate the backup.
Either at a fixed time or when starting the computer.

For this, we are going to use Windows scheduled tasks.

To open scheduled tasks,

  • on your keyboard, press Windows key + R
  • enter taskschd.msc and OK.

Go to the top left on Task Scheduler Library.
Right click on the main window and then click Create a basic task.

scheduled_task_windows_network_ backup Enter the name of the backup.
Click on the Next button.backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_2The trigger must then be configured.
We will choose « when starting the computer« so that the backup runs when Windows starts.
You can also choose every day by entering a fixed time.
backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_3Select the menu « Start a program« then click on the Next button.
backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_4 We must then go and find our Sauve.cmd file
To do this, click on the button Browse.
Navigate through your folders to find the Save and Save.cmd folder

You must also indicate the path of the script in the field Start in
For example, if the script is C: Backup Save.cmd
In the Start in field, you must have C: Backup

Click on following.
backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_5A summary is displayed, check the option at the bottom « Open the properties of this task when I click on Finish« .
Then click on the button Finish.
backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_7 In the properties window of the scheduled task.
Check the option « Executed even if the user is not logged in« .

The User or group button lets you choose the user who will be used to run the scheduled task.
In any case, if you click OK, you will be prompted for a username / password.

It is imperative that the scheduled task is executed with the user that you have configured on the two computers which is used to access the backup share. Otherwise the scheduled task will not have access to the share.

Click on the button if necessary to indicate the correct user and his password.
backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_8

Check backups

It is necessary to check the good functioning of the backups and this from time to time.
On the scheduled tasks side, you can start it manually by right-clicking then Run.

backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_9

This one passes In progress, this may take longer or shorter depending on the volume of data to be copied.
backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_10 Once finished, check that the status is « operation was successful« .backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_11 and especially the Backup folder which is on the destination Windows …
Check the contents of folder 01, the last backup. If it is empty, it means that the backup is not working.
Check the dates of the files too.backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_12

If the files / folders are empty in folder 01, check the properties of the scheduled task
Actions tab and double click on the startup script.
Make sure that in the Start In field, you have correctly indicated the folder where the Sauve.cmd script is located as explained above.

backup_windows_network_scheduled_task_13

Other backups

Other more sophisticated backups exist and are listed on the menu: Windows Backup

In particular, Windows offers a document saving system: Windows 8/10: saving personal documents

backup_windows

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