Windows 2003 Server Admin Password Recovery?

I find myself in the unenviable situation of trying to figure out and take control over a multi-server, brand new Windows 2003 server network that has lost its original administrator – and with it every administrative password to the kingdom. There is no one else who can do more than show me the actual servers and the former admin’s office, which looks like a tornado went through it and provides sparse clues. Nothing was documented, no CDs can be found, and there don’t appear to be any other accounts with admin rights, either.

Before I throw in the towel and resign myself to rebuilding the whole thing from scratch, does anyone here have ANY suggestions of how I might wrestle the admin account password from these servers?  Though other posts of this nature here looked promising, links went nowhere or they addressed earlier OSs and so did not help.

Many thanks for any input you can provide.

Susan K.
SusanPKAsked:
Who is Participating?
 
Christopher McKayConnect With a Mentor Microsoft Network AdministratorCommented:
Oh, and in case you don't want to go back to look for the link to the automatic script.... here it is:
http://www.petri.co.il/software/dc_pass_reset.zip

:o)

Bartender_1
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itcozaCommented:
It is against site policy to post hacking questions.  Please re-read the membership agreement (http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/infoMemberAgreement.jsp)

Experts answering this question can come under administrative review also.
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itcozaCommented:
Use Google with search words: 2003 password recovery
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SusanPKAuthor Commented:
Good grief. So sorry. I realize it's a gray area but it is a desperate (and absolutely legitimate) situation. No offense intended.

I will check Google.
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Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
I don't consider a request for ideas on how to recover a lost password an admission for instructions on how to hack.

I believe it is possible that someone might actually end up in that scenario.

Based off of this believe, I'm posting this link for some ideas to try:
http://www.petri.co.il/forgot_administrator_password.htm

Hope this helps!

:o)

Bartender_1
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Jay_Jay70Commented:
I agree, its not always a malicious reason for wanting those passwords :)

There is a fantastic program available called ERD commander, its big dollars but awesome for situations like this...though saying that, the link above has some ideas that can take you a long way, I purchased ERD commander and its not far off making its money back already
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SusanPKAuthor Commented:
What about something called Windows Password Expert by Atlantis Mind? http://www.atlantisminds.com 
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Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
I've never used it.
However, it does come with an unconditional money back guarantee. So for $17.00 it might be worth it for the peace of mind.

:o)

Bartender_1
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SusanPKAuthor Commented:
OK. We have been battling this all morning now. There is some sort of issue with this server's video drivers that crashes out jsut about every recovery utility we have (turns out a fellow staffer on our team actually has quite a bit of experience retrieving lost passwords). We finally managed to follow these instructions:

http://www.petri.co.il/reset_domain_admin_password_in_windows_server_2003_ad.htm 

However, when the server reboots with the new service installed, it takes a very long time and the new password still does not work. There is an error about a service failed to start, but, of course, we don't know which one. We can only assume it's this one. I'm wondering if anyone else has tried this and, if so, what issues did you have to overcome?

Many thanks again,
Susan K.
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SusanPKAuthor Commented:
PS: This is the Enterprise version of Windows 2003 Server.
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Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
Ok, so you have local admin password?

Did you try following the steps individually, or did you download the script and run it?
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SusanPKAuthor Commented:
Apparently the local admin password is... blank!  (very lucky break!)

No, tried this manually.
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SusanPKAuthor Commented:
I should really think before I submit... one more thing. The domain admin account was renamed. When configuring the service, should we use Administrator or the rename value?
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Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
Use the rename value.
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SusanPKAuthor Commented:
Yep. That's what we did. No luck. Also, local account login is disabled. The only way we can get in with the local admin account is in directory services restore mode.
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Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
If you download the script, and edit the "resetpass.cmd" script to match your account and password, then you should be able to launch the change-admin-passed.cmd script and have it do everything automatically for you.
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Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
"When bees detect the presence of explosives, they simply stick their proboscis out,"

Hmmmmm......
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Christopher McKayMicrosoft Network AdministratorCommented:
Wrong thread... sorry.
this was supposed to go in the lounge.
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SusanPKAuthor Commented:
Thanks bunches Bartender! The script does it a little differently than the manual insturctions, but that made all the difference. I am happy to report that the network once again belongs to its rightful owner -- and the police is on its way to the former admin's home.

Life is fair after all. Good night all and very happy holidays!

Susan K.
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