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Windows 2003 Server Admin Password Recovery?

Posted on 2006-11-28
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Last Modified: 2009-07-15
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.
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Question by:SusanPK
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20 Comments
 
LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:itcoza
ID: 18033216
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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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:itcoza
ID: 18033222
Use Google with search words: 2003 password recovery
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Author Comment

by:SusanPK
ID: 18033228
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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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Christopher McKay
ID: 18033235
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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LVL 48

Expert Comment

by:Jay_Jay70
ID: 18033260
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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Author Comment

by:SusanPK
ID: 18033284
What about something called Windows Password Expert by Atlantis Mind? http://www.atlantisminds.com 
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Christopher McKay
ID: 18033322
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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LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:gecko_au2003
ID: 18033377
0
 

Author Comment

by:SusanPK
ID: 18039090
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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Author Comment

by:SusanPK
ID: 18039117
PS: This is the Enterprise version of Windows 2003 Server.
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Christopher McKay
ID: 18039143
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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Author Comment

by:SusanPK
ID: 18039201
Apparently the local admin password is... blank!  (very lucky break!)

No, tried this manually.
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Author Comment

by:SusanPK
ID: 18039211
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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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Christopher McKay
ID: 18039408
Use the rename value.
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Author Comment

by:SusanPK
ID: 18039460
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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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Christopher McKay
ID: 18039520
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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LVL 22

Accepted Solution

by:
Christopher McKay earned 2000 total points
ID: 18039531
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
0
 
LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Christopher McKay
ID: 18039553
"When bees detect the presence of explosives, they simply stick their proboscis out,"

Hmmmmm......
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Christopher McKay
ID: 18039557
Wrong thread... sorry.
this was supposed to go in the lounge.
0
 

Author Comment

by:SusanPK
ID: 18041572
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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