Resetting Unknown SA Password

New to SQL Server and coming in as the new DBA (w/an Oracle background).  

Previous DBA used Windows authentication in the old office location.  When our office moved to a new location, the Network Admin backed up the image of SQL Server 2000 from an old machine to a new server when we transferred to the new location.  The Network Admin gave me local as well as domain admin rights to login to the new instance of SQL Server on the new server.  Logging in, I was able to register the SQL Services and can access and see some of the databases running on SQL Server, but I am obviously not coming in as a SYSADMIN.  The problem is, I cannot even go to the registry and change my authentication from Windows-based to Mixed mode since I do not know what the SA password is (the previous DBA cannot be reached and nobody here knows what the SA password is).  So, what other options do I have?

Appreciate the expert help ASAP as I need to start managing our databases and I cannot even get in as an "sa" to do my job.

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Duane LawrenceCommented:
When you apply a patch, it will ask for your sa password, just type in what you want it to be.

A word of warning, when you change it, anything that is hard coded to use the old sa password will stop working.  You will have to run around in emergency repair mode for a while.  Not a comfortable situation.  A better way would be to get the source code for everything that uses the db and search for the string 'sa', then read the password.

hapy3sumAuthor Commented:
Hi Duane,

Thanks for your input.  What about reinstalling SQL Server as an option?
Here's another way I have successfully used...

Login to the SQL Server box as the Administrator.
Run Enterprise Manager, right click the server name and choose 'Edit SQL Server Registration properties'.
Choose 'Use Windows authentication' and click OK button, expand a server, expand a Security and click Logins.
Double-click the sa login and specify new password on the General tab.
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Duane LawrenceCommented:
Yes, you can re-install SQL server.  That will allow you to assign the SA password.


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hi there ,

i tested the solution given by jerryscole,

but as soon as i edit the "sqlserver registration properties" to windows authentication

an error comes on screen saying
connection could not be established with reason " Can not generate SSPI ontext"

dear jerryscole can you expalin what exactly is this happening .

thanks in advance

Good question. First thing I would check is to see if the SQL Server "service" is running under the LocalSystem account. If it is running under a domain account, you can get this error. Unless your security policies prohibit it, I would run the service under the LocalSystem account.

You can get more information at this link;en-us;811889
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