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How to Change the Administrator Password on Windows Login if I Forgot the Password

Updated February 21, 2017

The administrator password in a Windows operating system is the most important passwords you'll need for your computer, giving you access to all other accounts on the computer as well as the power to change system and account settings. You should have set up a password as well as a password reminder hint when set up your Windows computer. If you lose the password you can retrieve it.

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  1. Turn the password-protected computer on. When Windows loads, you will be prompted for the password. In Windows XP, you will see a "?" button next to the password entry box. Click that box to receive your password hint. In Windows Vista and Windows 7, the password hint will be displayed under the password entry window after your first failed attempt to log in.

  2. Type the answer to the password hint question you set up previously. You will only be given three chances to answer the question, if you answer incorrectly, you will be locked out of the system.

  3. If your password recovery attempt fails, log in using an administrator account. The main login screen displays all the user accounts on your computer as well as information about the type of account (user or administrator). Look for an administrator account. You will be prompted to enter a password, if you created one. If you do not know the password, follow the steps you used previously to try to recover the user password. If you do not have the administrator password, you will not be able to log in. You will have to reinstall your Windows operating system.

  4. Insert the Windows installation disk and follow the prompts on the screen. Once you start the process, expect to spend two hours or longer reinstalling Windows. This will reset your computer to its factory settings.

  5. Tip

    Back up your important files on disks or a flash drive so that you do not lose them. Write down your Windows password and keep it in a safe place.


    If you reinstall Windows, you will lose all documents and files on your computer. Your computer will be restored to its factory settings.

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Things You'll Need

  • Windows-based computer

About the Author

Nicole Ramage has been writing professionally since 2005. She holds a certification in professional cake decorating and creates and sells custom cakes. She also teaches arts and crafts, specializing in weddings and baking. She earned her ordained ministership in Washington and Oregon in 2009 and an Associate of Applied Science in professional baking from Clark College.

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